How to Join a Class Action Lawsuit

If you’ve ever received a mass email about a data breach, or seen an advertisement about mesothelioma, you may have wondered how exactly class action lawsuits work, and if you could be a potential member yourself.

Class action lawsuits cover a huge range of cases with thousands or millions of members — from environmental damage to workplace discrimination to royalty underpayment — so it’s likely that some of these cases will apply to you over your lifetime. Here is everything you need to know about how to join a class action lawsuit.

Opt-In vs. Opt-Out Class Action Lawsuits

Class action membership is either “opt-in” or “opt-out”. Determining who is a member and how to join a class action lawsuit depends on which type of class action suit it is.

  1. Opt-out class action lawsuits. In an opt-out suit, all class members are included by default. In the U.S., most modern class action suits are “opt-out.” This means that everyone who meets the class member criteria is included by default, and class members have to manually opt-out if they do not wish to be included. Examples of opt-out class actions are those that involve everyone whose data was leaked in a data breach, everyone who was a customer of a specific company during a specific period of time, or everyone who used a specific prescription medication.
  2. Opt-in class action lawsuits. In an opt-in suit, only class members who have chosen to join are included. For these types of class actions, potential class members have to manually take action in order to join the suit. An opt-in suit often involves only people who had specific damages relevant to the case. Examples of opt-in class actions are those that involve everyone who was a victim of employment discrimination, everyone who contracted a specific disease after exposure, or everyone who was injured by a defective product.

How Will I Know If I’m Covered by a Class Action?

If you are included in an “opt-out” class action, you will be contacted by a law firm or class action administrator with information and instructions. Because an opt-out class action applies to large classes of individuals, it can be easier to use a large database of relevant contact information and reach out to all the potential class members.

For “opt-in” class action suits, it can be more difficult to identify and contact potential class members. Law firms may use advertisements and publicity to try to identify people who have been damaged and may be eligible to join the class action. If you think you may be included in a class action lawsuit, you can check a current list of lawsuits at

Do I Need to Prove Eligibility to Join a Class Action?

For many opt-out lawsuits, you do not need to provide proof of eligibility. An attorney will communicate with you with more information, and, unless you want to opt out, you can simply wait to see how the case is settled.

In some cases, you may need to provide proof that you are an eligible member of the class. You may need to provide proof of purchase, proof of your damages, or other kinds of documentation.

How Much Does It Cost to Join a Class Action?

It costs nothing to join a class action lawsuit. However, in some cases, a person may opt-out of a class action because they feel they can recover more of their damages if they file an individual case. If you have a claim against a big company and aren’t sure whether filing/joining a class action or an individual lawsuit is the right choice for you, it is important to consult with an experienced class action attorney.

When Do I Need to Take Action to Join a Class Action?

If you are included in an opt-out class action lawsuit, you often need to take no action at all. If a response or proof of eligibility is required, the relevant time frame will be communicated to you by the attorney. At the end of the lawsuit, you will be given instructions and a deadline by which to submit your claim.

If you think you may be eligible to be a member of an opt-in lawsuit, it is a good idea to contact the relevant attorney as soon as possible. Although these cases can take years to progress through the court system, it is better to understand your role and your rights earlier than later.

How Can Nix Patterson Help?

If you think you have a claim against a big business, or that you may be a member of a class action lawsuit, contact Nix Patterson. We have recovered billions in verdicts and settlements for our clients, and we take on challenging and complex cases. Call us today at 512-328-5333 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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