With numerous factors at play, settling a class action lawsuit can take anywhere from several months to several years.
Here, we’ll explore the various factors that impact the timeline for settling a class action lawsuit and provide you with an understanding of what to expect throughout the process.
What Kind of Lawyers Handle Class Action Lawsuits?
The lawyers who represent the plaintiffs in class actions are typically compensated on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if the case is successful.
The amount of their fee is usually a percentage of the total recovery, so their financial interests are aligned with those of the class members.
When deciding whether to pursue a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs must consider several factors, including:
- The strength of their case: To succeed, a class action must have merit – there must be some legal basis for the claims being made. Plaintiffs also need to show that they have suffered an injury or loss as a result of the defendant’s actions.
- Whether similar cases have been filed: If other lawsuits making similar allegations have already been filed, it may make sense to join forces in a single class action. This can help avoid duplicative efforts and conflicting rulings from different courts.
- The size of the potential recovery: If damages are significant, it may be wise to align with other class action attorneys and pool both knowledge and resources.
How Does the Settlement Process Work for Class Action Lawsuits?
At the end of the day, most class action lawsuits are settled either before or during trial. Typically, once the lead plaintiff, or main plaintiff, presents their case, the defendants may be willing to discuss a settlement.
The class action lawsuit settlement process can vary depending on the specific case, but there are some general steps that are typically followed.
First, the attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants will meet to discuss the possibility of settling the case. If they can reach an agreement, they will then present the proposed settlement to the judge overseeing the case.
The judge will review the terms of the settlement and decide whether to approve it. If the judge approves the settlement, a notice will be sent to all the individuals who are part of the class action lawsuit letting them know about the terms of the settlement.
Each person will then have an opportunity to object to or opt out of the settlement if they choose.
Once any objections or opt-outs have been resolved, a final approval hearing will be held and, if everything is in order, payments will be made to those who are part of the class action lawsuit.
What Are the Benefits of Settling a Class Action Lawsuit?
The decision of whether to settle a class action lawsuit or take it to trial is one that should be made after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced class action attorney.
Some factors that may influence your decision include:
- The strength of your case
- The amount of money you are seeking
- The likelihood of success at trial
- The cost and time associated with taking the case to trial
Settling your class action lawsuit has some distinct advantages. First, it allows you to avoid the risk of losing at trial and receiving nothing for your efforts.
Second, settling typically results in a quicker resolution than going to trial, which can save on costs associated with litigation.
When you settle you have the opportunity to negotiate the terms of the settlement, which may be more favorable than what you would receive if the case went to trial, and you were ordered to pay damages by a judge or jury.
There Are Also Risks to Settling a Class Action Lawsuit
Of course, there are also some risks associated with settling your class action lawsuit. First, you may end up accepting less money than you would have if you had gone to trial and won.
Second, by settling you give up your right to have a judge or jury hear your case and decide whether the defendants are liable for damages.
Once you settle a case it is typically over and cannot be reopened even if new evidence arises that could have changed the outcome.
Factors That Affect the Length of a Class Action Lawsuit Settlement
The average length of time to settle a class action lawsuit is about two years, but this can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the number of plaintiffs involved.
Some factors that can affect the length of a settlement include:
- The number of plaintiffs: The more people involved in the lawsuit, the longer it will take to reach a settlement. This is because each person must be contacted and given a chance to opt in or out of the lawsuit.
- The amount of money at stake: If there is a lot of money at stake, the defendants will likely want to drag out the case in hopes that the plaintiffs will give up or accept a lower settlement.
- The jurisdiction: Some states have laws that allow for quicker settlements in class action lawsuits.
- The complexity of the case: If the case involves complicated legal issues, it will take longer to reach a settlement. The parties will need to hire experts to testify and submit reports, which can add months or even years to the process.
How Long Does It Takes to Settle a Class Action Lawsuit, On Average?
The average amount of time it takes to settle a class action lawsuit varies greatly depending on the complexity of the case. Class action lawsuits can take months or even years to resolve.
In some cases, class action lawsuits are settled before they ever go to trial. In other cases, class action lawsuits are not settled until after a trial has been held.
Common Challenges That Delay Settling a Class Action Lawsuit
The vast majority of class action lawsuits are settled before they go to trial. However, there are a number of factors that can delay the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
One common challenge is finding all of the potential plaintiffs. In many cases, the defendant will have records of the people who were affected by their actions. However, these records may be incomplete or inaccurate.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers will need to track down potential plaintiffs and notify them of the lawsuit. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if the potential plaintiffs are spread out across the country.
Another common challenge is negotiating a fair settlement with the defendant. The plaintiff’s lawyers will need to evaluate the strength of their case and negotiate a settlement that compensates the victims fairly.
This can be difficult if the defendant is unwilling to cooperate or does not have enough money to pay a fair settlement.
Some courts require that class action settlements be approved by a judge before they can be finalized. This approval process can take months or even years, depending on how busy the court is.
Tips for Speeding Up the Settlement Process
There are a few things that class action attorneys can do to help speed up the settlement process in a class action lawsuit.
First, plaintiffs should make sure that they have gathered all the necessary documents and evidence to support their claim.
Second, plaintiffs should keep track of deadlines and make sure that they submit any required paperwork on time.
Third, plaintiffs should be responsive to requests for information from the defendant or from the court. Plaintiffs should try to reach an agreement with the defendant outside of court if possible.
What Happens if Your Class Action Attorney Can’t Negotiate a Settlement?
If your class action attorney is unable to negotiate a settlement with the defendant, your case may go to trial. This could take months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.
If you win at trial, you may be awarded damages. If you lose, you may have to pay the defendant’s costs.
If You Have Any Questions, Contact One of Our Class Action Attorneys Today
If you have any questions about your legal rights or options in a class action lawsuit, it’s important to speak with an experienced class action attorney. Class action lawsuits can be complex, and the process can take months or even years to resolve.
An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and options and can represent you throughout the litigation process. You should call today and schedule your free, initial consultation.