Why Do We Need Class Action Lawsuits?
We often hear in the news about class action lawsuits, especially when they result in what appears to be extraordinarily large jury verdicts. Many in the media are critical of class actions, but those same people are often not aware of the role and purpose of a class action lawsuit.
What is a Class Action?
A class action lawsuit is simply a group of people who have been injured, physically or financially, in the same way, by the same Defendant, all joining in the same lawsuit.
A class action lawsuit allows people who are injured, to join together, to hold a liable Defendant responsible for its actions.
Let’s imagine that a drug maker made a defective medicine that was making people gain weight. Although unwanted for the victims, the weight gain is not an injury that would normally yield a very large jury verdict, nor is it particularly dangerous.
As a result, the people who were afflicted by the defective medicine, would not be able to sue. Legally, they could sue—it’s just that it may be hard finding an injury attorney who would think it is worth taking on such a case, with such a minimal injury.
As a result, since attorneys won’t take the case, the drug manufacturer can continue getting away with its behavior, and making huge profits off of a medicine that may be defective.
But now imagine that all of the people who gained weight from the medicine, all joined together in one lawsuit. Now, although each individual case may have a moderate value, together the value of the class action—that is, the amount that the victims, together, are all suing for—is much more significant.
Now, a competent and skilled attorney can be found, and the Defendant now has an incentive to settle the case, and more importantly, to take the medicine off the shelves, or at least, to put a more comprehensive warning label on the medication.
Class actions thus allow people who have lost a moderate amount, whether through financial injury or through a “smaller” type of injury, to bring their case to court, have their case heard, and hopefully, to get compensation for their losses or injuries.
Getting Class Approval
A judge must approve a case being brought as a class action. Often, aggrieved victims must show the judge that their case is appropriate to be a class action.
Class actions have to have some similarity. In our example above, everybody who joins the class must have taken the same medication, and suffered some common symptoms, injuries, or effects.
There also must be enough people to justify making a class. Three or four people can just bring their own lawsuits, but when 100,000 people have taken a defective medicine and suffered undisclosed and potentially dangerous side effects, now, the number is large enough to justify a class action.
Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help if you are suffering because of injuries after an accident.