What is the difference between a lawsuit and a class action?

August 18, 2023

By: Karen Hulan

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An individual personal injury lawsuit is started by an injured person and/or their family members. The individual and family members receive advice from their personal injury lawyer about decisions to be made in the lawsuit and the settlement amount of their claims.

A class action is a lawsuit brought by one or more representative plaintiffs on behalf of a class (or group) of people who have similar claims. The representative plaintiff makes decisions with his or her lawyer about the proceeding and settlements.

Class actions can be an effective way of achieving compensation for people whose claims are smaller. It may also be suitable for individuals who do not wish to be involved in the decision-making of their case.

The terms of settlement of a class action apply to all class members unless a person has removed him or herself from the class action. This is referred to as “opting not”. A person may wish to opt out of a class action and begin an individual lawsuit.

When might you want to opt out of a class action?

Perhaps where your claims for compensation are different than the rest of the members of the class. Class actions are not always appropriate in personal injury cases where the extent of injury varies from one person to another. With individual lawsuits, compensation is based on the assessment of evidence in each individual case. The recovery from a lawsuit can be higher in an individual lawsuit.

How do you opt out of a class action?

There is one opportunity for individuals to opt out of a class action and the window of time to do so is limited. The opt out procedure is included in the Notice of Certification. If you are considering opting-out of a class action and prefer to commence an individual lawsuit, contact us for more information.

Published on August 18, 2023

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