Everyone knows that a day in court can prove to be an expensive proposition. Lawyer fees are very high, and they tend to bill by the hour. Most of the time the average individual cannot afford to stand up for him or herself within our legal system, in matters pertaining to private circumstances (that is, where no crime has been committed).
What this means for the individual is that in most cases, wrongs by large organizations go unlooked at, and unaddressed. Big companies, and governments as well at times, are aware that legal problems will crop up from time to time, and they retain lawyers in order to address these issues. Even if an individual decides to go through with a grievance, often they cannot afford a legal team the size of the company in question, and may lose the case due to insufficient funds.
The class action lawsuit is one way for individuals to have their voices heard and wrongs corrected, even against the power a large body wields. It basically pools the resources of several individuals, or a lawyer or team of lawyers may take the case on pro bono (without fees) but with the understanding that if the case ends in a victory, they will receive a certain portion of the compensation. This can work out very well for all parties; the individuals have the means to proceed and the lawyers have a shot at a large payout if they win (a great incentive).
So how do I become a part of a class action lawsuit?
Joining a class action lawsuit is easy, if you are a defendant. All you have to do is be in charge of a large body that may accidentally or purposefully endorse shady business practices, and eventually you will become embroiled in a lawsuit.
In other cases, joining a class action lawsuit is a bit more complex, because no one will likely go out of their way to inform you that one is in process. You will have to hear about it from a friend, relative, in the news, or other word of mouth.
After you hear about the class action lawsuit, your eligibility to join will depend on the conditions laid down by the court. The lawsuit may be restricted to individuals according to certain dates, gender, the nature of the offence, and so on. For example, the recent settlement of the Hepatitis C class action lawsuit in Canada only applied to individuals who received blood transfusions between certain dates. A large class action lawsuit filed against Wal Mart in the United States a few years ago was open only to any female employee of Wal Mart, past or present.
The time you join the class action lawsuit, as well, may or may not determine if you are part of the settlement. In most cases you can join even after the settlement has been awarded, and the law firm that handled the case is required to pay out your share.
Once you do find out about the class action and any limitations, it's pretty straightforward to join. All you have to do is contact the firm in charge of the case; in very large class actions there will often be a hotline set up and you will be screened to see if you meet the requirements.
There are a few drawbacks to class action lawsuits, but the fact is that they do work and receiving a portion of something, plus having the issues addressed, is better than receiving nothing and having the problems occur to someone else.
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/law-articles/becoming-a-part-of-a-class-action-lawsuit-287744.html