What Is a Class Action Lawsuit and What Are Its Benefits?

Class action lawsuits are commonly heard on television and radio commercials. They often involve defective products or predatory lending schemes. They provide several benefits to litigants by allowing them to join together for a common goal.

Determining Whether a Class Action Can Be Pursued

Not every form of litigation is appropriate for class actions. There are several characteristics that a lawsuit must have in order for it to be appropriate to litigate as a class action, including the following:


The claims need to be similar, though not identical, so that it is more practical for one lawsuit to resolve them than numerous lawsuits.

Similar Facts or Questions of Law

Additionally, the claims should be similar in nature, meaning that they should involve similar sets of facts or be asking the court to resolve similar questions of law. This way, the claims can all be handled together. It should not be necessary for the jury to have to hear each individual claim in order to weed out differences among them. This concept is referred to as commonality.


Certain plaintiffs will be named as class representatives. These individuals should be able to adequately represent the interests of the entire class in a fair manner. One plaintiff should not be able to use the lawsuit in a way that detrimentally takes advantage of other plaintiffs or that uses them to front the expense of the lawsuit.

Common Claims

A class action lawsuit may emerge due to a defective drug that causes harmful side effects. If thousands of people took the drug and suffered, the numerosity factor would be satisfied. If the people suffered from similar injuries, the commonality factor will be satisfied. If the class representatives adequately represent the interests of the entire group, all of the requirements for the group have been satisfied to certify them as a group.


There are a number of benefits for plaintiffs who wish to pursue a class action rather than litigate their claims separately. Here are a few advantages:

Lower Costs to Litigate

The costs to litigate the claims will be spread across many plaintiffs, so it is more feasible for them to be able to afford to litigate the case. Many class actions are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning that the plaintiffs do not pay for legal fees unless they win the case.

Opportunity to Litigate

Even if each individual claim is not for that much money, a class action lawsuit allows plaintiffs to pursue a worthy cause. For example, a telecommunications company may be adding hidden fees to consumer bills. While it may not be worth thousands of dollars in legal fees for one plaintiff to pursue a claim for a few hundred dollars, a class action allows such litigants to seek justice.

A Greater Degree of Uniformity

For plaintiffs, class action lawsuits allow similarly-situated plaintiffs to recover in a similar manner. Additionally, defendants benefit from class action lawsuits in that they know that many similar claims have been resolved at the end of a trial or settlement.

Higher Likelihood of Financial Recovery

Another advantage to a class action lawsuit is that a judgment against the defendant may mean that the plaintiffs will actually see the money that they are awarded. If many plaintiffs sue the defendant around the same time, the earlier plaintiffs may be the only ones who receive damages if the defendant or business goes bankrupt. Class actions help ensure that damages are spread amongst plaintiffs.

More Experienced Legal Representation

It is no small feat for a lawyer to take on a class action lawsuit. The case may involve thousands of pages of documents, expensive expert witness fees and years of time to develop the case. Class action lawsuits may be handled by more experienced and competent lawyers who have gone through similar cases in the past. This allows plaintiffs to be able to have such representation that they may not have had if they pursued the claim on their own.

Greater Efficiency

Class actions also benefit the judicial system. The case is determined by one judge in one court, so inconsistent verdicts do not become an issue. One claim will generally take less time than many similar claims tried at different times. The alternative would be to clog up court schedules, making it harder for other individuals to receive their day in court.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case.

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