Illinois Class Action Lawyers
If you have been harmed by a business and you suspect that many other people have suffered similar injuries, you should speak with a class action lawyer at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. When a large group of people experience the same physical or financial injuries because of another corporation’s wrongdoing, then they may be able to join together and file one lawsuit.
A class action lawsuit can ensure everyone hurt by unlawful conduct has the chance to receive justice and some compensation without putting a great deal of time and money into their own suit. However, class action lawsuits are not always appropriate. Specific factors must be present for this type of lawsuit to move forward, and the only way to learn if a class action may be right for your situation is to speak with an experienced attorney.
At The Cates Law Firm, LLC, our Illinois personal injury attorneys have represented many people in class action lawsuits. We are ready to review your situation and investigate whether a class action may be appropriate. If it appears that you have information regarding a potential class action, we will discuss moving forward with the case and what the legal process looks like.
Understanding Class Action Lawsuits
A class action lawsuit is one brought by an individual or group of people who have suffered the same or a very similar type of injury against a defendant on behalf of a much larger group of people who have also suffered the same or similar harm.
- The Class Representative – Also known as the class plaintiff, this is the individual or small group of people who file suit against the defendant on behalf of themselves and others who have been similarly injured.
- The Class – This is the entire group of individuals who have been similarly harmed by the defendant’s actions. A class can be as small as dozens of individuals. It can also be as large as millions. It all depends on how far the defendant’s negligence or wrongful conduct reached.
Depending on the situation, you may be actively involved in a class action lawsuit. This is most likely when you are one of the first people to discover the injury or seek out legal representation. You may even be the class representative who files a class action on behalf of all of those who have been injured in your state or the U.S.
However, you can also be part of a class action lawsuit with no involvement. You may receive a letter or email describing a case in which the attorneys believe you are part of the class. You are then given the opportunity to opt in or out of the action.
If you opt-in, then you may receive a small portion of a settlement or jury award in the future, and you typically lose your right to file your own lawsuit against the defendant. If you opt out, then you will not receive any benefit from the lawsuit, even if it is resolved in favor of the plaintiff. However, you retain your right to file your own lawsuit. When making this decision, you should seek the advice of an experienced class action lawyer who can explain your legal options.
In contrast, there are also lawsuits referred to as mass tort claims, which are similar and often confused with class actions. However, these are not single lawsuits filed on behalf of a group. Rather, mass torts describe several law suits, filed independently with similar facts, injuries, and legal issues.
The Process of Bringing a Class Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits require going through a specific legal process. They can be filed in either state or federal court, though most class actions are brought at the federal level because there are class members throughout the country.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 23, provides instructions for bringing class actions in federal court. Illinois’ Code of Civil Procedure in regard to class actions, 735 ILCS 5/2-801 through 2/807, outlines rules similar to the federal process, though they are not exactly the same. Depending on whether you want or need to file a federal or Illinois class action case, you must work with an experienced class action attorney who is well-versed in the appropriate civil procedure.
Class Certification and Scope
Once you file a federal class action, the next step is to certify the class. You must show all of the injured individuals’ situations involve the same or similar facts and the same or similar industry. You must also show that it would be impractical for every injured individual to file suit themselves. All of the specific elements you must establish are outlined in the federal or Illinois civil procedure rules.
If the class receives certification, then the judge also defines its scope. In other words, the judge determines who is and is not part of the class. If the judge does not certify the class, you must speak with your attorney about filing your own individual lawsuit.
After a class is certified and defined, every potential class member must be notified of the lawsuit. How a class must be notified depends on the circumstances. This may include letters, emails, commercials on TV, or other publication options. For individuals who fall within the definition of the class, you are automatically included in the lawsuit. The notice you receive enables you to opt out.
The case then proceeds like any other lawsuit until there is a resolution. The attorneys for the class must have a plan for how individual class members will receive their portion of a settlement or award. The judge must approve the plan, as well as any settlement agreed upon by the parties.
Legal Claims That Commonly Lead to Class Action Lawsuits
A class action lawsuit can develop based on any type of conduct that causes widespread injury. However, this type of lawsuit is most common for certain legal claims, such as:
- Civil rights violations
- Consumer fraud
- Dangerous pharmaceutical drugs or medical devices
- Defective vehicles or auto parts
- Environmental regulation violations
- Misclassification of employees and independent contractors
- Predatory lending practices
- Securities fraud
- Sexual harassment claims
- Unfair/deceptive business practices
- Unlawful debt collection practices
- Unlawful employment practices
- Wage and hour/overtime violations
Most class action claims focus on financial injuries that can easily be remedied by compensation. However, there are some class actions that involve physical and psychological harm.
Contact us today
Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with class action lawsuits in Illinois and throughout the United States. We are familiar with the laws that will enable you to recover compensation for your losses. We will help you understand the law and what kind of claim may benefit you most.Contact us today at 618-277-3644 to let us begin working for you.
The Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit
All of the individuals within the class must have suffered the same or similar kind of injury. However, very often, each individual’s injury is relatively minor. For instance, an unfair business practice could have caused you and thousands of other customers to be over-charged for a product or service. However, the money you would be owed by the business, even with interest, may be less than $1,000 each. At such a small amount, it would be impractical for you and every other injured person to file a lawsuit against the defendant. Your potential recovery would be less than the cost of the lawsuit. However, when banded together, all of the individual’s minor injuries demonstrate the defendant caused significant and widespread harm. As a class, you and other injured people can hold the defendant responsible without each incurring the significant cost of litigation.
If you are involved in bringing a class action lawsuit, there are other benefits. You and any other person acting as a class representative can pool your resources. You can work with one legal team, instead of each of you having to pay for your own attorneys. Additionally, class action lawsuits prevent every injured individual from having to separately prove their case. One legal team can work on gathering evidence instead of multiple attorneys doing the same work.
Who Pays for a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuits are typically paid for out of the settlement or jury award the class receives. Law firms often pay for the class action expenses upfront and are not paid unless they obtain a settlement or jury award. Once a class action lawsuit is resolved, all of the legal fees and attorneys’ fees are deducted, though there are also situations in which the defendant is required to cover the attorneys’ fees. The remaining amount is distributed to each individual class member.
In some cases, each class member receives the same amount. However, in many cases, the percentage of the recovery an individual receives depends on the extent of their harm. Certain members of the class may have suffered more serious injuries than others, in which case, they may receive a greater amount of the settlement or award.
Let the Illinois Class Action Lawyers of The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help
Whether or not your legal claim is the basis for a class action lawsuit is a complicated question. It can take a great deal of time and research to determine if what happened to you also happened to hundreds or thousands of other people in Illinois or around the country.
Once our attorneys have information supporting a potential class action lawsuit, we must gather enough evidence to increase the likelihood of a class being certified. If you are unlikely to win class certification, then we will discuss your option of pursuing your legal claim individually. However, if we have a great deal of evidence that supports class certification, we will discuss with you moving forward as a representative plaintiff for all of the other people out there who have been injured like you.
To learn more about your legal rights and options, as well as whether you may be part of a future class action lawsuit, call our Illinois class action lawyers at 618-277-3644 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.