Personal Injury

An Introduction to Class Action Lawsuits

A personal injury class action allows you to participate in a group lawsuit to recover damages for an injury that you may not have pursued on your own. The cost of litigation is shared by the entire group, so it becomes reasonable for an attorney to take the case. Class action lawsuits are particularly effective in forcing large companies to change the way they do business.

Federal and State Cases Use Different Procedures

The rules that govern a personal injury class action depend upon whether the case is filed in federal or state court. Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure controls the creation of class actions filed in federal court. Every state has its own procedural rules that control class actions filed in state courts. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 allows an attorney to use federal class action rules in state court if any of the plaintiffs live in a different state from where the action is filed.

Personal Injury Class Actions Must Be Certified

The court must allow appropriate lawsuits to be turned into a class action. A judge determines if a class action is a fair and efficient way to handle a large number of potential cases. The plaintiff's lawyer must show that the case and the plaintiff are good representations for the injured group. If a judge agrees, he certifies the class and allows the class action to proceed.

Potential Plaintiffs Can Opt Out

If you are part of the group that has been injured, you must opt out of the class action if you want to sue on your own. Opting out tells the court that you do not want the results of the lawsuit to apply to you. If you fail to opt out of the class action, you lose the right to sue on your own behalf.

Mass Injury Cases Are a Special Type of Lawsuit

Mass injury class actions are a more complex type of personal injury group litigation. Mass injuries are typically cases where large groups of people have been injured by a defective drug or product, such as defective breast implants. It can be hard to use a class action to resolve mass torts because individual personal injuries will differ. It can be impossible to determine the size of the settlement needed to compensate plaintiffs who may develop injury symptoms in the future.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding personal injury class actions is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.

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