Class Action Lawsuits: Should You Go That Far?

Not a day seems to go by without a mention of a class action lawsuit filing, verdict, or payout, but when are class actions a good idea? What advantage might someone have in filing a huge class action suit that could take years to deal with instead of an individual suit that might get a faster response? The answer lies in how many people had a problem and whether an individual suit would have succeeded in the first place.

Banding Together

When you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people standing behind a lawsuit, courts will take notice. Many class action suits involve damages that seem very small or hard to prove individually. However, having large groups of people band together, who have all dealt with some effect from the product or company involved, can show how widespread a problem is. Some class action suits can be huge and deal with severe problems, such as the chromium 6 contamination in Hinkley, California, popularized in the movie "Erin Brockovich," or the potential spread of cancer caused by morcellation. But many involve more minor injuries or simple deceptive advertising. These smaller cases might not be worth the trouble for one person to file, but if many people have had the same problem, then the case gets some legs.

Legal Fee Relief

Class actions also help people avoid having to shell out a lot of legal fees up front. Class actions often pay legal fees out of settlements or awards, so the plaintiffs are not placed under financial stress just to get the case filed.

Psychological Relief

Another reason to file a class action suit is the psychological relief it can bring to those who thought they would just have to live with something that happened, and those who thought they might be overreacting but couldn't shake the thought that they weren't. It can be very empowering and a relief to find out you were not the only one who had a problem with a product or service and that you can possibly get some sort of legal or financial vindication.

Financial Relief

If the problem at the center of the lawsuit was one that cost you money, particularly if it cost you a lot of money over time, like finding more and more wrong with a car, the suit can bring you financial relief through an award or a settlement. Lemon laws cover only so much, and you can easily have a frustrating time with a product that breaks down more and more in different ways. But if lots of people are having the same problem, you can get a class action suit going and get reimbursed for your troubles.

Talk to a lawyer about whether your case would qualify for class action status. The lawyer can help you track down others who might have been struggling with the same issue. You can also visit websites like