What Is a Class Action?

A legal procedure where a plaintiff or a small group of plaintiffs act on behalf of a larger group or class of plaintiffs who have all suffered similar injuries or damages. A class action must have a common defendant or defendants. Class actions can arise from injuries that are physical or financial in nature (and less commonly, certain types of nuisances). These plaintiffs work together against the defendant(s) as a class in order to seek remedy for the entire group through a class-action lawsuit or a settlement resulting from negotiation prior to entering the courts. The final awarded compensation or settlement is then divided between the members of the class based on various criteria agreed upon by the class at large. Class actions are commonly utilized in product liability claims, defective vehicle claims and toxic torts.