A personal injury case is a result of a car accident, a slip or a fall from dangerous building installations, and a sudden or recurring illness from the use of defective products. It can also come as a consequence of negligent behavior, medical malpractice, and as a form of nursing home abuse. In any of these scenarios, an individual may seek compensation for any sustained physical wounds and emotional grievances.
But what if you’re not the only one with injuries? How do you proceed when other claimants arise to show there are not only hundreds but probably thousands who share the same plight? How can the court try all these cases and issue compensation for so many injured parties?
Personal Injury Class Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits serve to round up similar personal injury claims into a single case. It’s a practical solution that provides representation for related cases and awards damages for all injured individuals or their surviving family members.
In a sense, a class action lawsuit is an escalated form of a personal injury case to provide relief for an incapacitated multitude. Such legal action can be pursued for injuries derived from premises liability, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, product liability, human rights violation, sexual abuse, and sports litigation.
Requisites For A Class Action Lawsuit
A class-action lawsuit needs to satisfy several requirements, including the following:
- Definition of a class member: a class must be able to demonstrate that individuals suffered the same harm or sustained similar injuries to become part of the lawsuit.
- Required number: class action requires at least 21 similar cases. Legal experts, however, recommend 40 cases and above. You can learn more about how class action lawsuits via a class action lawsuit attorney.
- Class Certification: a judge needs to issue a class certification that the case is viable for litigation. This decision is based on common facts that point to the cause of injury and to the apparent value of the class action as the most effective way to resolve the claims.
Obtaining class certification allows the case to progress towards trial. At the onset of the proceedings, class members are notified through a ‘Notice of Class Action’. This informs them that court hearings are in progress. The law firm that handles the class action serves as the representative of all the claimants. If a settlement or verdict is reached, a fund is made available to compensate members.
Classic personal injury class actions serve to combine seemingly small injury claims into one compound lawsuit. This is beneficial to individuals who don’t have the means to pursue the claim on their own. It’s also convenient for class members since they don’t need to testify or need to find a separate attorney for their claims.
A class suit also increases the probability of compensation for all individuals and serves as a single defense against a larger, more powerful defendant like corporations or multinational companies.
While a class action is beneficial for all class members, some injured individuals may opt not to join in the class suit for several reasons. These could range from having more severe injuries than others, incurring greater financial costs, and desiring more control over the lawsuit.
Those who opt-out of the class action are no longer entitled to whatever settlement or damages that the court decides.
Other Forms of Personal Injury Class Action Lawsuits
Those who opt-out have different injuries compared to members of a class-action lawsuit. They desire better compensation based on the extent of their injuries. Their claims are legitimate and can be pursued through mass tort litigation. This is applicable for cases that result in numerous individuals significantly injured by a defective product or a potentially dangerous drug. They can choose to file on their own and have their own lawyers. The majority of the individual lawsuits are then handled by one or a set of attorneys who collaborate to gather necessary pieces of evidence for their clients.
Personal injury class action can also occur in different areas that make hearings impractical. Courts remedy this situation by transferring personal injury claims into a specific Federal District Court. They assign a single judge to hear the case as a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Claimants that file for MDL hire their own lawyers to undertake research to strengthen their case.
In summary, personal injury cases can extend as class action lawsuits when several individuals are involved. Personal injury class action forms such as classic, mass tort, or multi-district litigation allow injured individuals to harness the power of one–one case, one court, one judge, one verdict–for fair compensation and impartial justice.