A class action is a type of lawsuit started by one or more people on their own behalf which seeks to include other people who have suffered similar harm or “damages” as a result of another person or entity.

A motion or court application will take place where a court will decide whether 1) the action is “certified” (i.e. the action can precede as a class action) and 2) the definition of the “class” (i.e. who can take part in the action). If the court permits the action to proceed as a class action, those people that fit the definition of the class are automatically included in the class action unless the court gives permission to a member of the class to be excluded. The court will also appoint one or more people to act as a representative for the class and they will instruct the lawyers who commenced the class action on behalf of the class members.

Members of the class are not personally liable to pay the lawyers for prosecuting the common issues in the class action as the lawyer’s fees are paid from any settlement or judgment as approved by the court. Further, if the proposed class action is not certified (i.e. not allowed to proceed as a class action) or if the class action is not successful, members of the class are not personally liable to pay court costs for prosecuting the common issues in the class action.

What Happens When a Class Action Settles?

If you fall into the definition of a class member and a settlement is reached with the wrongdoer, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the extent of the damages you suffered. Typically, a settlement adjudication process is set up once a settlement is reached and approved by the court. In many cases an independent adjusting firm will be contracted to adjudicate that process and set up the steps required to obtain compensation.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Compensation from the Settlement?

You can choose to handle that process on your own or if you find the process too difficult, you can hire a lawyer to assist you. You are not limited to hiring the lawyer or law firm that started the class action. Generally, unless the process is very straightforward, it is always a good idea to first consult with a lawyer experienced in obtaining compensation from class action settlements.

If you choose to hire a lawyer to help you obtain compensation from a class action settlement, it is very important that you understand how legal fees are calculated as it is often quite different from other types of personal injury claims. Legal fees for class actions will vary depending on the complexity involved and also what the court ultimately permits. Because of the time, amount of work, and complexity involved with class actions, many lawyers who commence the class action will seek the maximum fee of 33.3% for prosecuting the common issues of the class action. When a class action settles, the balance of the settlement amount that is left after their fees are deducted will be paid into a fund to be distributed amongst the class members in accordance with their proportion of entitlement. The court approving the settlement will often set out what lawyers can charge to assist potential claimants with applying for compensation from the settlement fund.

Contact Our ICBC Lawyers in Vancouver

If you have a class action claim and would like a free consultation from well-trusted and experienced ICBC lawyers in Vancouver who will help you wade through the complexities of such cases, please feel free to call us today. Select lawyers, case managers, and paralegals at Paine Edmonds LLP have vast experience in handling applications for compensation from various class action settlement claims arising in Canada and the United States, including but not limited to, Hepatitis C tainted blood class actions and residential school abuse class actions. Pay us a visit in the Metro Vancouver area today.