What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuits are a type of legal claim involving multiple plaintiffs making similar legal claims against the same defendant or defendants. Class action lawsuits are becoming more common in many types of law, including product liability, mass torts, and defective medical device cases.
The benefit of class action lawsuits is that they allow a large group of consumers or individuals to bring a claim against the defendants even if their individual claims are small. One single plaintiff may not have suffered enough damage to justify bringing a lawsuit against the defendant. However, if dozens or hundreds of similarly situated plaintiffs join together, they may be able to bring a claim for damages.
Washington D.C. Class Action Lawsuits
In order to file a class action case in federal court, it first has to be certified. This falls under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Before a class can be certified, the case has to meet certain requirements. One or more plaintiffs may sue a defendant as the representative party, on behalf of the entire group of similarly situated members of the class.
The class must have enough members that having all members join the lawsuit would be impractical. There should be common questions of law or fact shared with the class. The claims or defenses of the representative members should be typical of those of the entire class. And the representative members should fairly be able to protect the interests of the entire class.
Another reason to pursue a class action lawsuit may be to avoid inconsistent judgments. If a number of individuals brought their own individual lawsuits in different states and jurisdictions, the different judges may make a vastly different ruling based on a similar set of circumstances. By bringing the claims together, the plaintiffs will more likely receive similar treatment and standards as the rest of the class members.
If a judge finds that the representative parties meet the qualifications, the case may be certified as a class action. Members of the class may receive benefits of the class action lawsuit or settlement. However, members can also opt-out of the settlement if they want to pursue an individual lawsuit, or if they fear their interests will not be represented by the class members.
Defective Product Class Action
Some of the most common class action lawsuits involve defective products. New products quickly make their way from the drawing board to the manufacturing plant, to consumers and stores across the country. When one of these products is defective, dangerous, or prone to malfunction, thousands of people can be affected at the same time.
If most of the consumers who purchased the product encountered the same problems, then they may be good candidates for a class action lawsuit. If the product defect did not lead to any injury, the class may seek compensation for the value of the product, a repair, or replacement. However, if the defect resulted in serious injuries, the injured victims may seek compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Defective Drug or Medical Device Class Action
Other common class action lawsuits involve defective pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. After a new drug is developed, thousands of patients may begin taking the new medication as prescribed by their doctor. Unfortunately, it may take months or years before patients discover the drug is defective or has dangerous side effects. By the time the defect is linked to the drug, hundreds of people could be injured or killed.
Similarly, defective medical devices are often implanted or used in patients for months or years before a safety recall is issued, or the patient is made aware of the defect. The patient may have to balance the danger of undergoing surgery to repair or replace the defective medical device with the danger of leaving it alone and hoping nothing happens.
Potential plaintiffs in many defective drug and defective medical device claims may be subject to a class action lawsuit. Their claims may be similar, there may be too many patients to each bring an individual case, and the representative members may be able to adequately represent the interests of the class as a whole.
Defective medicine and medical devices are also commonly certified as class action cases. When a new device or medication is put out on the market, the harmful impacts may not be fully realized. In some cases, the manufacturer may play down the dangers. However, when a pattern of injury, damage, or death begins to develop, it may reveal that millions of patients face similar injury.
DC Class Action Attorneys
If you or a loved one suffers an injury, you may not know if it was an isolated incident or if others have suffered a similar injury. Whether your claim is an individual personal injury claim or could be certified as a class action lawsuit, you should talk to an experienced Washington D.C. personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will investigate your case and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian today. We offer a free consultation and will fight for you, to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries.