How to File a Class Action Lawsuit

By | January 21, 2011

As someone who’s been wronged, you might feel that the world out there feels bigger during tough times. When you’re just one person who’s trying to restore justice to a small group of people, it might appear like an overwhelming task. But one tool at your disposal – the class action lawsuit – is often an effective way to put the legal system back on your side and make things “right” when you might not have been make them right through any other means available to you.

Let’s define a class action lawsuit before we go any further. A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit that is filed not only for one party, but for a group of people or even group of businesses. Essentially, a class action lawsuit is one that a group of people undertake, even though they may have their own individual grievances with the defendant.

A class action lawsuit combines all of the problems and potential rewards of these individual cases into one large case, meaning that there is a lot of – well, work to do. If it seems overwhelming to you, that’s probably because it is. But in this brief guide to class action lawsuits, you’ll start to make sense of it all, find a little guidance in the haze and, most importantly, you’ll understand what steps to take from here. Here is how you file a class action lawsuit.

Step 1. First, you’ll want to be aware of what class actions lawsuits typically represent and try to discern whether or not you’ve got a case. If you already have a lot of people on your side who also believe you have a case, then you’re already moving forward with said case, but it will take some serious legal knowledge to understand whether you’re right about the case. The best way to go about learning these details is to consult a lawyer – especially a lawyer experienced in handling class action lawsuits.

Will any specific lawyer do? Well, lawyers are students of the law, but you’d be surprised just how much specialization in experience can impact the quality of your lawyer’s advice. For example, a tax attorney is not going to make ideal representation for your class action lawsuit. There are a lot of laws on the books in the country and in each individual state: it’s the lawyers with direct experience in a certain type of case that really understand the finer details of what makes a strong case.

And that’s exactly who you want giving you advice: someone who’s been there before, who understands these laws to the level that they’ve developed instincts around them. If you’re not sure about your case, you need to talk to someone who can be sure about your case – or be sure if you haven’t got a good case for a class action lawsuit.

Step 2. Keep communication lines open with all of the people in your class action lawsuit as you select a lawyer for representation. At this stage, we’re assuming that your lawyer did tell you that you have a case and that you’re ready to move forward. With this in mind, you have to start moving forward, even if it means taking a leadership role in your class action lawsuit and doing much of the work of talking to a lawyer yourself.

It’s important to make sure everyone’s on board, because soon your lawyer will be able to get you to sign papers ensuring that they’re your representation. You’ll also have to think about the money you’ll have to pay this lawyer, typically through a retainer, and this is a subject you’ll need to bring up with the other parties in your class action lawsuit.

Step 3. Trust your lawyer’s experience and cooperate. From here, it’s the lawyer’s job to handle filings and to make sure your case proceeds as the legal system deems is the proper way for it to proceed. There’s not a lot you can do at this point except trust your lawyer and to cooperate with them in order to make things easy on them. If your case is important and your lawyer is a good one, you can trust that they’re working hard for you. And with the fees and filings attached to filing a lawsuit being as complicated as they can be, it’s simply easier on you if you trust your lawyer to do their job.

It will be your lawyer’s task, after all, to keep you informed of everything that you will need to handle in a class action lawsuit. So listen to them. Can you do your own research and work? Sure, but you don’t want to believe that you’re that capable of suddenly eclipsing your lawyer’s real-world knowledge and experience. That’s why it’s so important to find a lawyer who knows what they’re doing!

Step 4. Follow the case closely and support your lawyer in whatever ways possible. If your lawyer needs you to stop bugging them and distracting them, do that. If your lawyer needs your help in contacting parties in the class action lawsuit, be that conduit for communication. Just support your lawyer in whatever ways you can because your lawyer’s going to be the one who determines the quality of your legal strategies.

You want them to perform well on your behalf, so be there to help them whenever you can. And if they don’t need your help, give them the time and trust to handle the work on their own.

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