We often hear the term “class action” on intense television crime shows, but very few of us know just how useful and relevant class actions are in the real life criminal justice system.
What exactly is a class action lawsuit?
Class actions are suits brought in federal or state courts by one individual or a small group of individuals on behalf of a larger group of people in a similar legal situation. Famous class actions you’ve probably heard of include Investors vs. the Enron company, Erin Brockovich vs. Pacific Gas and Electric, and Facebook users vs. Facebook after the Beacon scandal.
Okay that’s great, but how does that apply to me?
We’ll be honest, it might not. However, if any of the following situations apply to you, class arbitration might be appropriate:
-Your civil rights were violated
-You were part of the one third of black Americans who faced some form of discrimination last year
-You suffered personal injury at the hands of a motorcycle, car, or truck
-You were irresponsibly exposed to poor air quality or toxic pollution
-You have been the victim of medical malpractice
-You have been the victim of corporate theft or fraud
-Someone has tried to pass off your work as their own
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you would be surprised how many people struggle with these problems, not knowing that there could be dozens or even hundreds of others out there suffering from the same injustices.
Say one of those situations sounds like something I’m going through. How do I get the process started?
The best thing you can do during these early stages is to do some searching and see if there’s not a lawyer out there who specializes in class action suits willing to offer you a free consultation. That might sound too good to be true, but free consultations are more common than you might think. (Those mesothelioma and Yaz commercials on public access television come immediately to mind as examples). At the very least, this consultation will help you figure out where you stand and shed some light on the legal process. Who knows? You could be the next Erin Brockovich.