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Federal class action lawsuits represent a judicial remedy in situations where an individual may have suffered harm through consumer fraud, but the amount of harm is insufficient to warrant bringing a personal injury lawsuit. A federal judge must certify claimants as a class before the class action can commence.

Are Federal Class Action Lawsuits an Effective Legal Remedy?

Legal claims that are instigated by one individual or a small group of individuals on behalf of a larger group of individuals are called class action lawsuits. Class actions suits can be a useful means of exerting pressure on negligent third parties in instances when filing a personal injury claim might be impractical. For example, if a manufacturer knowingly sold you a defective product, it might not be worth your while to pursue a legal claim since the expenses involved are likely to be far more than any amount you might recover. If you join a larger group of consumers in securing a judicial remedy, however, you may have more of an advantage. Consumer fraud constitutes one of the largest categories of class action lawsuits. In addition to defective products, class action suits have been initiated over false or misleading advertising, credit card fraud and insurance fraud.

Federal Class Action Guidelines

Federal class action suits must follow the guidelines set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Every individual who joins the suit must have a complaint that is similar enough to issues raised by other individuals so that he or she can be considered a member of a claimant class. The class of claimants must be sufficiently large to make hearing their complaints on an individual basis impractical, and the class must be certified by a judge before the case can proceed. Individuals who participate in class actions also give up their right to file individual lawsuits in most instances.

There Is a Place for Class Actions

Still, class actions may benefit consumers so long as consumers understand from the start that any compensation is likely to be minimal. Class actions typically require less involvement on the part of participating claimants, so they are not as stressful as other types of civil litigation. If you think you might want to join a federal class action claim, speaking with experienced injury lawyers may help you explore the advantages and disadvantages of this course of action more thoroughly.