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Who is Responsible for Legal Fees in a Class Action Lawsuit?

 When you are injured by the acts of a person or entity and the injury was a result of their negligence, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages that you’ve suffered. But when you are one of many people who have suffered the same or similar injuries as a result of the same person or entity, you may be able to join in what is known as a class action lawsuit.  A class action lawsuit puts together the claims of a group. Sometimes these types of suits are filed because there are so many people who have suffered the same injury that it is simply easier for the courts to address a single case where all of the facts are roughly the same then it is to hear each case individually.  Class actions also provide individual plaintiffs who have suffered damages with a way to gain better leverage against big companies that have extensive resources. Some people who are considering joining a class action lawsuit are hesitant because they are afraid that they are not sure who is responsible for legal fees in a class action lawsuit, but that’s not the way things work. The attorneys who represent the case are paid out of the money that the defendant is required to pay in damages.

In a class action lawsuit, the award, whether settlement or jury award – is referred to as a “common fund”. The fees that the attorneys get for winning this money must be approved by the court, but it is usually a simple calculation of a percentage of the award.  The court will make the decision as to whether the award is reasonable or not, but one way or another the person who has suffered the injury never has to pay their attorney out of their pocket. There have been instances when attorneys representing a class action have been accused of earning an unreasonable amount of money for their representation, but this is often simply a matter of the total common fund being so large, or of the award or damages that the case succeeds in achieving is for a nontangible benefit rather than a cash benefit that can be divided between the different participants in the class action.

The members of class action lawsuits have several benefits over plaintiffs who file individual lawsuits. They generally only need to sign off on papers and then do not have to appear in court, or even provide testimony. Unfortunately, they also generally do not get the same kind of awards or settlements that result from individual suits. If you would like to speak to an experienced attorney about your involvement in a class action lawsuit, contact the firm of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today.


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