How To Find Out If I Am Part Of A Class Action Lawsuit

As more and more power is put into the hands of consumers, class action lawsuits have become a frequent occurrence. 

By filing a suit as a group, class action lawsuits allow wronged consumers to get some compensation or change the business practices of product and service providers.

Since these lawsuits are filed by a few individuals on behalf of a larger group, it’s possible to be a part of these proceedings without knowing you are.

There’s usually a notification process to let everyone know but this isn’t foolproof. If you suspect that you could be part of a class-action lawsuit but you’re not sure, we’ve covered how you can find out right here.

Am I A Part Of A Class Action Lawsuit?

As we said, there’s a process for alerting potential participants of class action lawsuits. This is just one of several steps that a class action suit needs to go through before you can take any action.

Those steps are:

  1. The drafting, filing, and serving of legal complaint
  2. Counter-filing or challenge of the complaint by the defendant
  3. Discovery ensues so that both sides gather evidence
  4. The court will certify or dismiss the class action, depending on where the facts lie
  5. If certified, notice is published in relevant media or directly sent to affected individuals. 
  6. The case goes to court where a decision is made unless the defendant settles during proceedings.

You can see that it’s step 5 that we’re interested in today. Depending on the scope of the case and the status of the defendant being sued, a class action case can achieve ubiquitous news coverage that alerts people across the entire nation.

However, if the defendant is a small local company and you don’t pay attention to the local news media, it’s possible that you’ll miss class action alerts.

Depending on the size of the group that’s eligible as plaintiffs in the class action, the notice period may see a mail or email alert being sent to relevant individuals.

These notices will advise you, as a class member, of your rights in the following proceedings. It’ll also tell you the options available to you, which we go into later.

What If I Haven’t Been Notified?

Whether it’s down to a clerical error or you didn’t notice the alert in your mailbox/inbox, it might fall on you to find the suit that you may be a part of.

If your address is held by the defendant, then that’s likely the information that the attorneys will be working from. What does this mean? It means that if you’ve moved addresses or given incorrect contact information when making your purchase, you’re less likely to get properly notified.

It’s important to check if you suspect you’re involved in a suit because while many class actions work on an opt-out basis, some of them will need you to opt into them, usually when they’re collective action cases.

Great resources for finding potential class actions that you could be involved in are available online. Class Action Database is a good example. To most effectively use these resources, it’s best that you have an idea of the time frame and company that the lawsuit is being levied against.

Otherwise, Google is your friend for finding information about any class actions facing the company or organization that you’re interested in. If you’re already familiar with the case, searching the attorney can help too as they can add you to the class registry.

Named people on class registries will get updates on any pertinent information related to the class suit, such as the settlement amount once the proceedings come to a close.

Not getting a notice doesn’t mean you don’t qualify for a suit, so make sure you check if you fit the collective or class that’s taking legal action.

What Are My Options?

Assuming you have bought a product, service, or any medication that has been recalled or identified as being harmful to consumers, you’ll have a few action options.

Let’s assume you have been notified or you’ve sought out the lawsuit yourself and found that you can be a class member. You should follow any and all instructions on your notice to properly participate in the suit.

If a class-action lawsuit is happening and you do apply as a class member, you don’t have much to lose by joining it since joining is free, while you won’t get any portion of the settlement should you not take part in the suit.

You can join a suit and remain a passive member or, if you think you have important details to add that aren’t being covered by the case, you can have your own lawyer add you to the case as a named plaintiff.

You may need to prove that you’re a part of the class membership. A credit card statement that shows a purchase from the defendant entity is the best qualifying document you can bring to the suit.

If the suit involves a faulty or problematic product, a receipt as proof of ownership will also be required.

What Happens After The Suit?

So, you found out you were part of a suit and joined it, either by opting in or not opting out of it. Whether it was as a named plaintiff or a passive class member, you’re entitled to a portion of any settlement that gets reached as a result of the lawsuit.

Once a case has been settled, you’ll need to send your claim by mail or submit an online claim form. Once you’re already in contact with the attorneys and other legal agencies involved in the suit, they can tell you where to enter these claims.

The class notice you receive, or request upon finding out about the suit, should also walk you through every step of the lawsuit including the collection of settlement.

That should be all of the information you need to find out more about any class action lawsuits you’re a part of.


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