Have you been injured financially or physically by a person or company? If so, you might be able to sue them for the injury!
If your suffering is worth less than a few thousand dollars, it may not be worth it. This is because getting a lawyer and going to court can end up being quite expensive.
Class action lawsuits are designed for when corporations wrong a large group of individuals. Generally, this is when monetary losses are minimal. They are filed by one person or a small group of people representing people who were harmed in the same way as they were. They may also be the only way in which people can get legal relief on the matter.
Because class action lawsuits can go for a lot of money from a corporation—the Polo lawsuit is worth about $4 million—they’re set up to help prevent corporations from taking advantage of people.
Class actions level the playing field between individuals (hundreds or thousands of people) and corporations, because corporations almost certainly have more funds in the bank than their employees or other victims do.
Because class action lawsuits are typically on the behalf of a large amount of people, it simplifies the court processes by paring down from hundreds of lawsuits to a single case.
Consumers can band together against corporations to get a certain amount of damages each. If the typical individual’s damages equal $100, then it might not be worth it for them to go through the court system. However, 1,000 people with $100 in damages (say, a faulty wireless router that set fire to a home) makes a bigger impact. There’s no sense in filing separate lawsuits for all 1,000 of those people when their cases will be nearly identical. Why make the courtroom process more complicated than it already is?
If the case is settled in favor of the people who initiated the lawsuit (class members), then the class members will be notified of the settlement. Then, a settlement website is launched in order to help class members complete their claims forms so they can get their portion of the funds released by the corporation that was sued.
What happens if money is left over, though? These funds might end up going to a charity or other non-profit organization that is relevant in subject matter to the lawsuit in question. In the case of the Ralph Lauren class action lawsuit, if money was left over from the $4 million, then the remaining funds might go to an organization for protecting the rights of workers.