Class Action Lawsuit: How are Damages Determined

Most people assume that class action settlement monies are divided evenly amongst the class members. They figure it doesn’t matter how serious one plaintiff’s injuries were compared to another. However, this isn’t how it really works. Class action lawsuits are quite different from regular personal injury cases.

When it comes to class action lawsuits, there are different types of relief. And, for those cases involving a financial settlement, the settlement monies are distributed based on several factors. Here, we will discuss what these factors are. We will also describe the different types of relief the court may order. Finally, we will explain how the attorneys who handled the case are paid.

If you believe you have rights under a current class action lawsuit, call our office right away. You don’t want to miss your chance to collect damages. Nor do you want to accidentally opt out of a class and waive your rights to recovery. You can contact our office and schedule your free, initial consultation. Find out how a class action lawsuit works and see if it’s worth your time to hope for a class action settlement.

There are Different Types of Class Action Settlements

In a typical personal injury case, the only type of damages are financial damages. Your attorney will normally demand that you receive the following:

  • Medical bills and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

However, when it comes to a class action lawsuit, it works a bit differently. The type of settlement reached is dependent on the type of injury the defendant caused. For example, if a group of consumers are angry because they were all overcharged for a certain product or service, they would want to be paid the amount they were overcharged. However, since this is a class action lawsuit, the judge may deem some other sort of damages warranted.

Some of the other types of settlement that you may see with a class action lawsuit include:

  • Injunctive relief – This is a court order prohibiting the defendant from behaving in a certain way in the future. For example, imagine that a children’s toy manufacturer had not put warning labels on their packages indicating that a certain toy was only meant for children over the age of 5. There may not have been anybody injured. However, to prevent future harm, the court may order them to start using warning labels in the future.
  • “Common Fund” money damages – This is ordered when the judge believe the plaintiffs deserve money damages, but the identity of all the plaintiffs has not yet been completed.
  • “Limited Fund” money damages – This is similar to the common fund relief. However, in this case, the plaintiffs are known, and they will each receive a pro rata share of the settlement. It all depends on the facts of their individual cases.

Your class action lawsuit attorney will have the duty of calculating how much each plaintiff deserves. It depends on several factors. These factors will be explained below.

What Factors Can Impact the Distribution of the Class Action Settlement?

When it comes time to parse out the settlement proceeds, many factors come into play. These are similar to the factors that determine how much an individual plaintiff would be entitled to had they filed their own personal injury lawsuit.

The factors include the following:

  • The injuries suffered by the different plaintiffs will play a role in their portion of the damages. In class action lawsuits there is one plaintiff designated as the “lead plaintiff.” This person is the one who suffered the most serious injuries and losses. Their damages are calculated before the rest of the class.
  • The age of the plaintiffs. The reason this is a factor is that many class action lawsuits involve victims who can no longer work. Therefore, the number of working years they have left would impact their share of the settlement. If a person is older or is already retired, they would have fewer years left before they retired.
  • The income of the individual plaintiffs.
  • The level of pain and suffering each plaintiff can prove.
  • The evidence submitted by the various parties. Certain plaintiffs will have strong evidence linking their injuries to the defendant while others have very little. With class action lawsuits, it is harder to determine the extent by which each plaintiff was damaged.

It’s Important to Remember that the Class Action Lawsuit Attorney Must Be Paid as Well

As with any other personal injury case, the attorneys handling the case must be paid before any of the plaintiffs are paid. In a normal personal injury case, the attorney and their client agree on a certain contingency percentage. It usually ranges anywhere from 33% to 40%.

With a class action lawsuit, the judge is the one who decides what percentage the attorney receives. They typically order the attorneys be paid 25-33%. The lawyers cannot demand more than the judge ordered.

Our Class Action Lawsuit Experts Can Answer Any Questions You May Have

If you’re a member of a current class action lawsuit, you must be wondering when it’ll end. And, when it is finally over, how will you be paid? These are reasonable questions and the same kind of concerns our clients have when we first meet with them. While there’s no guarantee that the lawsuit will be successful, our attorney will keep you updated on the progress of the case. We will also let you know when a settlement is on the horizon.

Call our office and schedule your free, initial consultation. Take the time to meet with someone who has handled more than their fair share of class action lawsuits. You may have no idea what kind of settlement you could be looking at. It’s a good idea to know ahead of time how the case will proceed. Since the initial consultation is free, you have nothing to lose.