Class action lawsuits operate a bit differently from individual litigation. The former generally involve fraud or product defects. Because of the amount of financial exposure involved, they’re often settled outside of court rather than proceeding to trial.
While class action lawsuits often get settled for tens of millions of dollars, individual plaintiffs usually receive a very small amount if they win such a case. It’s not uncommon for individuals to end up with a settlement of fewer than one thousand dollars. Most of the award goes to attorneys’ fees.
Class action lawsuits aren’t for everyone. Generally, you will be included in the class action lawsuit unless you opt out. Being part of this type of mass litigation may make you eligible for whatever compensation the litigants receive. However, it will forever bar you from being able to file a separate lawsuit on your own.
Tax authorities generally view any monetary award that you, as a plaintiff, receive from a class action lawsuit as taxable income. It can take as long as six to nine months to receive your settlement check after the court approves the settlement agreement in your case. If you don’t opt out and file a separate suit or you don’t accept the class action settlement payment, then your proceeds will go to charity.
If you are a potential member of a class-action lawsuit, then you need to consider whether it’s the right type of litigation for you to pursue. Not all individuals in the group suffer equally. Some suffer more or fewer damages than others. You might want to consider opting out of the class action suit and filing a separate lawsuit to increase your chances of being awarded a larger settlement if you suffered more than others.
An experienced class action attorney in Charleston can evaluate your West Virginia case and recommend the best course of action for you to take.