A few years ago, I received a notice about a class-action lawsuit against the company that manufactured my car.
It told me to fill out an online form to be part of the suit, so I did, but I figured nothing would come from it. But a year later, I got a check in the mail for $350. Taking a few minutes to fill out a simple form netted me a decent windfall. It was the easiest money I’ve ever made.
My experience isn’t uncommon. At any given time, there are hundreds of class-action lawsuits going on. Chances are you could have a claim in one or more of them and get some extra cash.
What is a class-action lawsuit?
Anyone can file a lawsuit against a company, but it’s expensive and time-consuming. A class-action lawsuit can be an easier and cheaper approach.
In a class-action lawsuit, a group of people with similar injuries or damages caused by the same product or company sue the business as a group. Class-action lawsuits happen across all kinds of industries, from food and pharmaceuticals to automobiles and apps.
According to Paul H. Cannon, a personal injury and products liability attorney with Simmons and Fletcher, the value of each lawsuit can differ.
“Class actions vary widely,” said Cannon. “Some of them may result in the claimants receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, while others result in a rebate or coupon. There are many going on that a person could qualify for and never even realize it.”
How to take part in a class-action lawsuit
Through class-action lawsuits, you could get anywhere from a few cents to a few thousand dollars. The hardest part is finding out about the current lawsuits.
If a class-action lawsuit occurs, you should receive a notification through the mail. If your address changed, you can also find lawsuits through sites such as Consumer Action, ClassAction.org, and Top Class Actions, along with instructions on how to submit a claim. It’s a good idea to check regularly, as new lawsuits are filed all the time.
“When a class action begins, the court requires the company to send out notices to all of the potential class members,” said Cannon. “The company will then identify all of the people it did business with during the time their product contained the defect that initiated the class action.”
The notice form will tell you what you need to do to file a claim. Often, you’re automatically submitted. Others require you to submit more information to proceed, such as the year, make, and model of your car in an automobile manufacturing lawsuit. You might also have to submit documentation proving your purchase, such as a receipt.
Not all lawsuits require proof. Some need you to sign a sworn statement stating that your claim is legitimate. Before submitting a claim for every lawsuit, keep in mind that lying is considered perjury and is a serious crime with significant consequences.
If the suit is settled, or the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, you’ll receive a check in the mail.
3 things you should know about class-action lawsuits
Although a class-action lawsuit can be a way to earn extra cash, there are some things you should know before proceeding.
1. You likely won’t make thousands
Lawsuits can range in value. Depending on the suit, the product involved, and how many claimants are part of the suit, your portion of the settlement could be a few thousand dollars or just a few cents.
For example, if you purchased Flaxmilk, you could be eligible to receive up to $32.50 because of deceptive marketing practices. Although that’s nice extra money, it’s certainly not a huge windfall. You can’t count on this money to pay off your student loans or establish a retirement fund.
2. You won’t see results for months (or even years)
Don’t make plans to spend your lawsuit settlement before you get a check. According to ClassAction.org, most class-action lawsuits take between two and three years to resolve. Some can take much longer.
3. You lose out on the ability to sue on your own
The most important thing to keep in mind is that participating in a class-action lawsuit — and not specifically opting out — means that you give up the right to sue on your own. In some cases, it can be a worthwhile decision, but it’s dependent on the severity of your case.
“Whether or not a class action is beneficial to you depends upon the extent of the harm done,” said Cannon. “One of the big benefits of class actions is that many small-value claims that would cost too much to bring on their own can be brought together and the costs get disbursed across the cases.”
A class-action lawsuit allows you to bring a case forward that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive on your own. But in more serious cases, such as in the case of serious physical injury or even death, it might be worth hiring your own attorney.
Finding legal help
If you need help deciding whether a class-action lawsuit is right for you, consult an attorney. If you need help but can’t afford to hire an attorney, learn about four ways to pay for legal aid.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
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Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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|2.49% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
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|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
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