In most class actions, you need not do anything to join the lawsuit. Most class actions are opt-out lawsuits. This means that class members (those whose legal interests are represented by the suit) are automatically included in the lawsuit unless they choose to opt-out, or decline to participate, in the case.
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At A Glance
In general, you don't need to do anything to "join" a class action.
If your legal rights are affected by a class action, you usually will only need to get involved once the case settles. In most cases, you will need to submit a claim, either online or through the mail, to receive your portion of the settlement or judgment. Information on how to do so will be found in the class notice that you will receive in the mail.
Some class actions that deal with wage and hour violations may be "opt-in" cases. This means you must affirmatively elect to participate in the lawsuit. Information on how to do so will be found in the class notice.
Although defective medical devices or prescription drugs affect large numbers of people, lawsuits involving drugs or medical devices are usually not handled as class actions. Instead, each person harmed by the drug or medical device will need to file an individual lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages he or she has suffered.
How Will I Know If I'm Covered by a Class Action?
If a class action has already been filed, you may receive a class action notice in the mail stating that your legal rights may be affected by a lawsuit. You should carefully read the class action notice. Some class actions only cover residents of certain states or individuals who suffered a particular type of physical or financial harm.
How Much Does It Cost to Join a Class Action?
It does not cost anything to be part of a class action. In most class actions, the lawyers handling the case only receive a fee if they obtain a favorable result. In general, any legal fees will be deducted from the settlements or court award.
When Would I Need to Take Action?
When a Case Settles
When the lawsuit settles, you may be required to submit a form either online or through the mail to receive compensation from the settlement. In most cases, you will receive notice of the settlement via e-mail or regular mail.
If the Case Is a Mass Tort
It is important to remember that class actions are different from mass tort lawsuits. In a mass tort case, each injured victim needs to file his or her own lawsuit to receive compensation. Mass tort cases often involve dangerous pharmaceutical products or defective medical devices, such as hip implants or surgical mesh inserts.
If the Suit Is an Opt-In Class Action
Some class actions are "opt-in" lawsuits. This means that potential class members are not automatically included in the lawsuit. Opt-in class actions usually involve allegations of illegal employment practices, such as failure to pay required overtime or workplace discrimination. If the case is an opt-in lawsuit, the class action notice will provide information on how to "opt-in" and join the lawsuit.