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What is a Class Action?

A class action is a legal claim against an organisation that’s made on behalf of a group of people. It’s sometimes known as a “group claim.” A set of circumstances has affected the group in the same or similar way, leading to an injury or loss. For example:

  • Contaminated water affects a group of people who then take legal action against a mining company.
  • A group of employees may start a class action against their former employer for payment of their entitlements.
  • Or a group of people who developed severe health issues after faulty medical implants may take a class action because they have significant medical bills and can no longer work.

Suffering an injury can be a terrible ordeal. But if the same circumstances cause harm to other people, it’s understandable that you may feel angry and shocked. You may also need to work out your options.

Class actions are a powerful way to hold large organisations accountable for the harm that they have caused. That’s where we can help.

What can I claim in a class action lawsuit?

Like most other personal injury claims, what you can claim in a class action lawsuit will vary from person to person. The claim will depend on the extent and seriousness of the injury, your medical expenses and whether your injury or loss has affected other aspects of your life.

Class action lawsuits may have different categories of compensation, depending on the seriousness and long-term impact of the injuries or loss. The level of compensation is determined by which category applies to you.

This is a complex process and requires consideration of medical reports and other evidence. If categories apply to your class action, we will assess your situation to work out the best one for you.

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What will it cost me to participate in a class action lawsuit?

An advantage of being part of a class action is sharing the legal costs among all the claimants, meaning that class actions are often more cost-effective than individual legal claims.

Before commencing any class action, we carefully consider whether the action will have a reasonable chance of achieving a settlement payment for the claimants.

We only proceed with class actions where we’re confident that there are reasonable chances of success.

We usually run class actions on a no win no fee basis.

How long will it take to resolve the class action?

Some class actions are resolved in months, while others may take years. The amount of time depends on many things. These include:

  • How long it takes for injuries to stabilise (meaning that they aren’t likely to get better or worse).
  • How willing the organisation is to negotiate a settlement of each claim.
  • Whether the long-term effects of the organisation’s action or negligence are known.

Like other personal injury claims, there may be time limits on taking a class action. If the claim relates to personal injury, the time limit is 3 years.

If you think you have a personal injury claim, regardless of whether it may be a class action, you need to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after being injured.

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Frequently asked questions

When many people suffer because of an organisation’s wrongdoing, it’s only fair to hold it accountable. This can also ensure that the organisation changes its operations and attitudes.

Taking private legal action often isn’t an option because it’s a significant financial risk, especially if you’re unsure whether your claim will be successful. Class actions may provide a more cost-effective legal solution and a quicker resolution.

Yes, there are some differences. People involved in class action lawsuits under federal laws must “opt-out” of the action if they want to take their own legal action against the organisation. Whether your claim falls under federal or State laws will depend on the type of claim. For example, State laws usually apply to claims for injuries.

When we know your circumstances, we can advise whether federal or State laws apply, and what this means for your claim.

Once a class action commences, federal laws say that any person who may have the same or a similar claim from the same circumstances must be part of the class of people.

This is regardless of whether they have made a legal claim. If they do make a claim (and there’s no requirement for them to do so), they’re included in the class. If they don’t want to be involved in the class action, they must “opt-out,” meaning that they must tell the Court that they don’t want to be included. If you choose not to opt-out of a class action, any Court judgement will apply to you. We can give you advice about whether opting-out is right for you and we can opt-out on your behalf if you wish.

Under federal laws, a class action commences if there are at least seven people making claims arising from the same or similar circumstances, and there is an important legal issue or fact linking the claims.

South Australian class action rules say that there must be a group of people with a common interest. There’s no minimum number of people required to bring the action.

We will discuss the commencement of a class action with you, including tailoring a strategy that best suits your needs, whether to claim in a State or federal court, and how we will locate other potential claimants.

You don’t need to find other people to join the class action. We can do this for you.

However, it’s useful for us to get as much information as possible from you, as this can help us search for other claimants.

While class actions can be cost and time effective for claimants, it’s true that there are some disadvantages.

For example, any settlement or court judgement won’t be tailored to your unique needs.

Most likely, you’ll be assessed as falling into a category (based on the extent of your injuries or loss), and payment of the judgement or settlement will be according to the allocated amount in that category. In some cases, it’s possible that the amount that you receive will be less than if you claimed on your own. On the other hand, because your legal fees are significantly less in a class action, you may not be any more out-of-pocket than if you opted to go it alone.

Other disadvantages include your lawyers having less time to spend considering your individual needs as they are acting on behalf of the group, and you may have less say in the conduct of the case because you are part of a group.

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of joining a class action at your obligation free first interview with us

Yes, you can. If you can’t get to one of our office locations in the Adelaide metropolitan area, we can arrange to meet with you via Skype or telephone call.

If there is a group of people in the same regional area, we will often make the trip to visit all of you at once for face-to-face meetings.

Why choose DBH as your class action law firm?

With extensive experience in running class action lawsuits in a range of legal areas, we’re accustomed to the precision needed to act on behalf of many claimants.

We understand the significant level of organisation required to collect and collate evidence, including medical reports and witness statements. We know that litigation is stressful and we’ll handle your claim with sensitivity and respect. We understand how important it is for you to understand what’s going on at every stage of the process.

Our team has experience in running class actions against large institutions including governments and churches. And with extensive personal injury experience, we’re well-versed in medical conditions and terms.

Our class action experience includes:

  • Action against Dow Corning for faulty breast implants.
  • Physical abuse claims against Goodwood Orphanage.
  • Spin Dragon collapse at the Royal Adelaide Show.
  • Cases of salmonella poisoning.
  • Sexual abuse actions involving one perpetrator and many victims.
  • Sexual abuse actions involving one institution and many victims.
  • Shareholder claim against South Australian retailer Harris Scarfe.
  • DePuy faulty hip and knee replacements.
  • Actions against property developers for failed developments.
  • Actions on behalf of Port Lincoln bush fire victims.

We’ve helped thousands of South Australians, and we can help you too.

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Class Actions team

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