Class action lawsuits are massive cases where a group of people sue an organization, such as a private company or Government body, for compensation for damages that the group has suffered.
The question that arises for most people is, how do you join a class action lawsuit? Answering this question depends on the many factors that might impact the type of class action, and it’s side effects.
Opt-in to a Class Action
Some class actions are “opt-in” lawsuits, which means you must affirmatively elect to participate in the lawsuit. As such, you have to file a suit for the claim, providing information that you were indeed affected by the organization’s action.
Opt-in class actions usually involve a select group or minority that has been directly affected by the organization.
Take, for example, a case against wage and hour violations. As this is exclusively for one set of employees, only those employed can file a claim for lost income. Furthermore, if you are one of those individuals, you will have to prove that you were affected by a loss of hours, highlighting how it impacted you with documentation, forms and accounts.
Another prime example could be the RCMP class action lawsuit, where women who were sexually assaulted or harassed during their time with Canada’s leading law enforcement can get compensation. Although wider in scope, as it includes both current, past and contractual candidates, victims still have to opt-in by actively filing a claim through the lead counsel, follow procedures and show proof of harassment.
Understanding the type of class action, such as employment, security, consumer, products liability or personal injury, can determine if you qualify for it or not.
Meeting the Criteria to Opt-in
You can’t just file a simple form and be involved in a class action lawsuit. You have to meet the criteria of that class, which can include a specific timeframe in which the crime was committed, ages of defendants, types of products or brands and so forth. Only by meeting these criteria do you qualify.
However, due to the fact that the lead attorneys fail to identify every single potential class member that can be involved in the litigation, you may never receive notification of the class action litigation to which you may qualify.
Therefore, it is imperative that you conduct your own research to see whether you qualify and meet the criteria. If you do, you are technically entitled to any compensatory damages or other terms resulting from the litigation. You must notify the lead counsel about your confirmation.
The Lawsuit Has Already Happened
You may discover that the lawsuit you know you qualify for might have already been settled or received a judgment. That doesn’t mean that you miss out on compensation, as you can still collect on any monetary disbursements as long as you qualify as a class member.
You will have to speak directly to the leading counsel in charge of the plaintiffs and the case.
Finding the Lead Counsel
Most class action lawsuits have a lead law firm or two that is in charge of the proceedings. You have to contact them directly, provide information that you were indeed affected by the organization so they can let you participate in the litigation.
The attorney will undertake their own investigation of your situation and determine whether your injury and situation are similar to the other class members.
To find who is in charge of a particular lawsuit, you can check local law associations, the media or simply conduct your own online research.
Opt-out of the Class Action
If you decide that you do not want to participate in the case, you can take action to “opt-out”, which means you no longer are part of the lawsuit.
You can do this if you prefer not to get involved in the case or if you would rather bring your own lawsuit. Information on how to do so will be found in the class notice and your lawyer.