How Are Damages Divided in a Class Action Lawsuit?

One of the most common questions clients ask our class action lawyers is how much their case is worth. There’s nothing wrong with this question. It’s no secret that the reason you join a class action lawsuit is because you believe you’re entitled to compensation.

Here, we’ll explain how these cases work and how the damages in a class action lawsuit are divided. If you still have questions, feel free to contact our office directly.

Class Action Lawsuits Are Quite Different from Regular Lawsuits

It’s important to understand that class action lawsuits are a lot different from regular lawsuits. For example, if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, you’ll sue the other driver for damages. Your attorney will negotiate a settlement with the defendant’s insurance carrier, and you’ll be made whole. If you’re interested in learning more about the difference between a Mass Tort Case and a Class Action Lawsuit, visit this page.

With a class action lawsuit, there is more than one plaintiff. There may even be more than one defendant. Your class action lawyer could be representing several people at one time.

Instead of trying to get one person damages, a class action lawyer is often pursuing damages on behalf of any number of people.

There Could Be an Unlimited Number of Plaintiffs

When it comes to a class action lawsuit, there’s no telling how many plaintiffs there will be. In some cases, the court makes the defendant pay monies to a “common fund” in case there are plaintiffs that haven’t sued yet.

You don’t see this sort of thing in an ordinary personal injury case. Our class action lawyers could sign a new client and add them to a class action lawsuit at any time.

One of the reasons this is important is that you may have to share damages with dozens, or even hundreds of people. This can make it hard for your class action lawyer to know exactly how much money you’ll be awarded.

You Will Have to Share Damages or Settlement Money with All the Other Plaintiffs

One thing that’s hard to explain to some clients is that they’ll have to share damages with the rest of the class. Unless you’re the lead plaintiff, your damages will be decided along with the rest of the plaintiffs.

This can be frustrating for some plaintiffs. It’s normal to wonder what your own case is worth. The last thing you want to do is worry about a stranger’s case. However, this is the nature of a class action lawsuit.

Your Class Action Lawyer Will Need to Consider Several Factors

There are a lot of factors that will help determine how much compensation you’ll receive. These factors are pretty standard for any class action lawsuit.

class action lawyers discussing damages

Some of the factors your class action lawyers will need to consider include the following:

  • Your age – The younger you are, the more working years you’ll have ahead of you. If your injuries are serious, you may never be able to work again. At a minimum, you may not be able to do the same kind of work that you did before your injury.
  • Income – If you’re entitled to damages for lost wages and lost future income, then your salary matters. Somebody who earns $100,000 per year will be entitled to more money than someone who earns $30,000 per year.
  • The severity of your injuries – In almost any class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs with the worst injuries will receive more in damages. For example, if you suffered 10% hearing loss from a defective ear plug while another person is totally deaf, the deaf plaintiff will receive more money.
  • Evidence – Even if someone else has fewer injuries than you, they could receive more money than you. If the evidence in your case isn’t very strong, your class action lawyers won’t be able to justify significant damages.

You need to remember that your class action lawyers won’t know how much your case is worth upfront. Not only do they need to thoroughly evaluate your claim, but they also need to see what kind of settlement is negotiated.

The Court Will Identify a Lead Plaintiff

In a class action lawsuit, the court will identify one plaintiff as the lead plaintiff. This is the person who suffered the worst injuries out of all the class. Their case will be tried, and their damages will be determined by the judge.

Once this worst-case plaintiff’s damages are calculated, the rest of the plaintiffs will be measured against this case. The amount of money you receive will correlate with the amount paid to the lead plaintiff.

Of Course, Your Class Action Lawyer Is Paid Before Anybody Else

Whatever the settlement amount is, your class action lawyer will be paid first. They’ll receive anywhere from 25-33%, depending on what the judge decides. When the settlement is paid, they will receive their fee right off the top.

Once all the other legal fees and costs are reimbursed to the firm, the rest of the settlement money will be divided. Your class action lawyer will let you know how much you can expect to receive.

The Judge Will Have to Approve the Damages Awarded to Each Plaintiff

One interesting thing about a class action lawsuit is that the judge must approve the settlement. If they don’t think the settlement is sufficient to take care of all the plaintiffs in the class, they may not approve it.

Once the settlement is approved, the class action lawyers will have to submit a table of damages for the members of the class. The judge will have to approve this as well.

Once all of this is completed, you’ll have a much better idea of how much you can expect to receive.

The Best Thing to Do Is Speak with an Experienced Class Action Lawyer Right Away

When people are injured using a certain product or get sick from a dangerous drug, they don’t know where to turn. Our class action lawyers at Rueb Stoller Daniel have helped hundreds, if not thousands of people get compensation for their injuries.

Class action lawsuits can be confusing. Only certain people can handle being class action lawyers. If you have any questions about how the process works, you should contact our office right away.

We do offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to see if you want to proceed with legal action. It also helps our lawyers decide if you qualify to join a class action lawsuit.