The Difference Between Class-Action And Private Lawsuits

Private lawsuits and class-action lawsuits are similar in some ways, but they differ in how the lawsuit is brought against the other party. A private lawsuit involves one individual filing a lawsuit against another individual or entity because of an injury or loss. Class action lawsuits involve a group of people filing a lawsuit against an individual or entity that has harmed that group in some way. Class action lawsuits are appropriate in some circumstances and not appropriate in others. An experienced lawyer can help you determine which approach is best in your situation.

Some Reasons Why Class-Action Lawsuits Are Filed

Below are just a few of the reasons why class-action lawsuits are sometimes filed:

  • Hazardous Consumer Products
  • Pharmaceutical Liability
  • Negligence Resulting in Injuries or Death
  • Predatory Lending Practices
  • Illegal Debt Collection Methods
  • Unpaid Worker Overtime
  • Disclosure of Credit Card Data

Advantages of a Class-Action Lawsuit

There are a number of advantages when you're filing a class-action lawsuit versus a private lawsuit. For instance, if a large financing company has been illegally overcharging its customers, a single individual filing a lawsuit against them may not have much of an impact on them. But if a large group of their customers get together and file a class-action lawsuit, the amount of money involved is much more likely to get their attention. Class-action lawsuits are also more likely to be settled than a private lawsuit, since the entity involved will be reluctant to take the risk of losing in court. Another advantage provided by class-action lawsuits is that they help keep the courts from being clogged with hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits related to the same matter.

Out-Of-Court Settlements

As mentioned above, most class-action lawsuits are settled out of court and never go to trial. Of course, this varies a bit depending on the scale of the lawsuit and how quickly a settlement is reached. Both private lawsuits and class-action lawsuits can end up being settled in a few months, or they can drag on for many years before a settlement is finally reached.

Disadvantages of a Class-Action Lawsuit

One of the main disadvantages when filing a class-action lawsuit is that you as an individual part of this overall group will have very little control over how the lawsuit is conducted or what the final settlement will be. In some instances (such as when the injury you have suffered is different or more severe, or when you have had greater expenses than others in the group), it might be best for you to choose a private lawsuit rather than joining in a class-action lawsuit.

If you're not sure which type of lawsuit you should pursue, talking with a person injury attorney can help you make the best decision for your situation.