Why Do We Need Class Action Lawsuits?
We hear a lot on the news about class action lawsuits. People often complain about the seemingly large damage awards in class action lawsuits and about how it often seems like the damage awards are extraordinary and perhaps, unfair to defendants.
But what are class action lawsuits, why do we need them, and are the damages awarded really unfair?
One big problem in any kind of lawsuit, is that the damages sustained by a victim, whether a victim of an accident who has suffered an injury, or whether a victim of an economic loss, like someone who has been defrauded, is that often the damages sustained by the victim have to be significant enough to make it worth a lawsuit.
Knowing this, a company or a Defendant could conceivably, injure or defraud a lot of people “just a little bit.” Nobody, individually, would bother to file a lawsuit, after having suffered so little of a loss. In the meantime, the Defendant may have profited a lot, wrongfully, by injuring or defrauding a lot of people, just a little bit each.
For example, a bank could steal a dollar from every single person’s bank account. Who would sue for $1? Probably nobody. Yet, the bank, having stolen $1 from millions of customers, has made millions illegally, and nobody will do anything about it.
Ganging Up Together
Class actions change all that. Class actions let all victims “gang up,” and add their collective damages together, to stop wrongdoing. By collectivizing their cases and damages, the total value of the case is now increased, and thus, there is motivation and incentive to pursue the claim, and stop someone from doing wrong.
Inconsistency and Number of Cases
Class actions also avoid inconsistent verdicts. Imagine a defective drug that causes people illness or injury. There could be millions of people who took that drug. Yet, the same case, tried with the same evidence, could yield different verdicts in every case. That certainly isn’t fair; victims deserve some uniformity—and so do Defendants.
It would also make it unfair to victims who sue later. That’s because by the time you get to the 10th, 100th or 1000th of the same case, with the same facts and the same evidence, Defendants are better prepared. The 1000th victim to bring his or her case against a drug manufacturer is at a disadvantage as compared to the very first victim. That also is unfair.
How Much Money?
It is sometimes said that victims get little money in class action lawsuits. This is a false misconception, but like anything else, the amount depends on the case.
Certainly, if someone was defrauded out of $10, and filed a class action lawsuit, the victims would receive $10 (if they won the case), even if the total amount of damages for all victims added together were in the millions. But if the class were made up of people who contracted cancer because of a toxic chemical in a product, the individuals would get a significant amount more.
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. for help to see if you can get compensation for your injuries after an accident.