A majority of people don’t know that class action lawsuit attorneys are not paid unless they win the cases through settlements or verdicts. This is because; the attorney in a class action lawsuit is paid through the money that is recovered on behalf of class members. The money the attorney is paid is referred to as the attorney’s fees.
However, this fee must go through the review and approval of the court. The judge will either approve or reject the fees, depending on the amount of work the attorney has done for the case, total judgment value, and a reasonable amount of money for class members to recover. Despite the fact that all cases are different, the court approves the attorney’s fees within a range of 25-35 percent of the total settlement fund.
What Happens When Class Members Don’t Get Compensation From the Judgment or Settlement?
There are cases where the settlement will not provide monetary awards even if the ruling is in favor of the class members. In such cases, the defendant will take on the responsibility of paying the plaintiffs’ attorney fees. However, there are other cases where the plaintiffs will be required to meet the expense of their legal fees. Therefore, before you consider filing a class action lawsuit, ensure you are aware of how the attorney who will represent you will get paid.
Can the Court Reject the Proposed Attorney’s Fees?
Although there are several reasons that may lead a judge to reject the proposed attorney’s fees, the biggest reason might be if it is determined that the settlement is unfair. In such cases, the judge might reject the fees with claims that it does not adequately represent the work put in the case by the plaintiffs’ lawyer. Additionally, the judge may reject the proposed fees if it appears disproportionate to the benefits for the class members. However, in such cases, the judge will always communicate to both parties about the concerns and advise them to revise the terms of their agreement accordingly.
What If you don’t agree With the Proposed Attorney’s Fees?
As a member in a class lawsuit, if you have concerns about the attorney’s fees, there is an option for you to file an objection to the settlement. However, there are instructions to follow while filing the objections and you must ensure to follow the directions carefully. You must also file all the necessary paperwork within the deadline.
What Can You Win In Class Action Lawsuit?
A majority of class action lawsuit settle before going to trial. However, in case the settlement is not obtained before going to trial, the case might end with a judgment or verdict that favors either the plaintiff or the defendant. Also, there are chances that the case might be dismissed, therefore, making it a loss for the plaintiff. If you have opted in, which means you are part of the class, you qualify to receive the benefits of any recovery, according to the case. In most cases, the obvious recovery is in the form of cash, although there are also non-monetary recoveries too.
Settlement without Trial
When you opt for a settlement that does not get to trial, the terms of the settlement agreement is agreed and negotiated by both the plaintiffs’ lawyer and the defendant. However, before the lawyers get to an agreement, they must obtain a legal court approval for the settlement. In such case, the details of the settlement and how it’s allocated among members and their requirements to qualify for the recovery are specified in the agreement. For a monetary settlement, the agreement may specify the amount of money for each claimant. In most cases, the settlement agreement only mentions the lump sum to be divided among all the claimants. At this point, the number of cases filed will determine how much each member receives. Additionally, each member gets compensated depending on individual loses.
Non-monetary recoveries, however, might include future purchase discounts or similar vouchers or coupons goods for free merchandise. Although the recovery can forego financial awards for members, the defendant might be mandated to take certain actions such as enhance customer protection or even change their business practice. However, if the case proceeds to trial and ends with judgment in favor for the plaintiff, the class is awarded an aggregate sum of damages. The damages are, therefore, distributed among class members under the court observation through non-adversarial administrative claims.
Additionally, if you opted out as a member and the case proceeds and is ruled in favor for the rest of the plaintiffs, you cannot claim legal settlement as the others who opted in. However, your recovery will solidly depend on the mercies of the class members. In such cases, if the case does not proceed to trial, there is a probability that you may not be compensated, unless the recovery is non-monetary.
How Long Does a Class Action Lawsuit Take?
The duration that a class lawsuit can take ranges between cases. A number of them will go for 1-3 years. Such processes might even take much longer or less than a year on rare occasions. As you determine how long the class action lawsuit will take, every case must go through numerous formal stages. Some of the stages include:
- The original complaint filed
- Court petition from plaintiffs to certify the case as a class action
- Certification order issued
- Notification for eligible class members
- Both plaintiffs and defendant lawyers interview witnesses, gather and share evidence and build their cases
- Negotiations for settlement take place. When a settlement is not obtained, the case takes the next stage for trials
- In case settlement negotiations bear fruits, the judge provides preliminary settlement approval or orders modifications.
- When obtaining a preliminary settlement, a public hearing is held on the fairness of the settlement. At this point, a class member can effect changes to the preliminary settlement by either supporting or opposing it.
- Settlement is finally approved after the public hearing
- Members are notified of the settlement, processing of claims, recoveries are calculated and finally, funds for settlement are distributed among class members.
With all these steps and procedures to follow, the case might take more time that you would expect. Whether you feel your class action lawsuit is simple or does not require a lot of procedures for you to get the settlement, all the above steps must be followed to the later to ensure fairness in the ruling. If the case is more complex, the length of time it will take before attaining its settlement will also vary.
Another thing that might determine how long the case will take depends on the period the case is filed, the availability of class members, and other technical issues touching on plaintiffs and defendants. Also, if the case proceeds to trial, the availability of the judge and the courtroom is another factor that can either speed or slow the settlement. If the case obtains settlement before the trial period, it will take a short time before getting to the ruling, which will save time for both parties.
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuit is a legal action where a group of people with similar injuries that are caused by the same action or product sue the defendant as a group. In other words, a lawsuit that is brought by several people suffering the same losses or similar harm can be referred to as multi-district litigation (MDL) or mass tort litigation.
If, by any chance, you have an injury that resulted from using a particular product and you feel like there are other people suffering the same harm like you, then you qualify to file a class action lawsuit. In such situation, you can seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who specializes in representing classes of injured people in various lawsuits.
There are several examples of class action lawsuits. It may consist of a group of patients who received a prescribed drug and suffered from its injurious side effects. Employees who are subjected to racial discrimination may also file such a suit. Consumers who purchase defective products or live in a neighborhood and who experience the same injury from toxic spills are also classic examples. It can even include co-operating investors who suffer fraud in the sale or purchase of stock and other securities.
What Is The Purpose Of Class Action Lawsuit?
The purpose of class action lawsuit is to ensure class members gets justice for the injuries caused by the defendant. Although some of the injuries are minor and may not qualify individual members to file individual lawsuits in pursuit of justice, when the injuries are placed together, the value of claims adds up. Therefore, suing as a class means consolidating the defendants, witnesses, attorneys, evidence and several other aspects of the litigation. When the number of people affected by the conduct or product is high, it becomes impossible or impractical to file individual lawsuits. This leads to a class action lawsuit with a representative plaintiff called lead plaintiff or named plaintiff.
Benefits of Class Action
The class-action lawsuit simplifies the work of the judge. It disposes and brings together thousands of claims at one time. This makes the process easy and efficient for all parties involved. The judge takes on the duty to decide who wins based the evidence provided and claims at hand. If the ruling is in favor of the defendant, the lawsuit is dismissed and individual group members prohibited from filing the same case against the same defendant in different cases. However, if the plaintiff wins, the court finds the defendant liable for the injuries, which results in compensation. Another benefit of the class action is that it ensures each member receives payment even if it does not cover all their damages in case the defendant is not able to pay the full amount.
How to Join Class Action Lawsuit?
Some class action lawsuits do not require you to do anything to join. Most of them are opt-out, which means class members are automatically included unless they decline to participate or opt-out in the case. However, if your legal rights are affected, you will only be required to be involved once the case settles. In other cases, for you to join the class action, you will be required to submit a claim by email or online for you to receive the portion of the settlement.
However, some class actions that directly deal with hour violation or wages may be opt-in cases. In other words, for you to be a member of the class action, you will have to affirmatively elect participation in the lawsuit. Prescription drug or defective medical devices medical devices affect a large number of people, but lawsuits involving such cases are not always handled as class actions. In other words, individual members will be required to file individual lawsuits to demand compensation for the injuries or damages suffered.
What Is the Cost of Joining a Class Action?
Joining a class action or becoming part of the class should not cost you anything. The lawyers involved in the case receive the attorneys’ fees after obtaining favorable results on behalf of their clients. Therefore, if there are any legal fees to be settled, they will all be deducted from the court award or settlement.
How to Determine Whether the Class Action Covers You
In case the class action has been filed, there are chances that you will receive notifications in your email with details about the class action. This notice will also indicate that your legal rights can be affected by the lawsuit. Therefore, you must be very vigilant while reading the notification and ensure that the specified injuries affect you directly. This will help you to determine whether you are covered in the claims or not.
Opt-In Class Action
An opt-in class action means that all potential members are not covered in the lawsuit. Therefore, individual members will have to opt-in with the help of the notice that will provide detailed information about the process. Such class action lawsuits involve allegations of employment practices as workplace discrimination or failure to pay required overtime.