How to Join a Harmful Drug Class Action Lawsuit

Three Methods:Responding to a NoticeConducting a SearchStarting Your Own Suit

Often new drugs are released without a full understanding of their potential side effects, and people become seriously ill as a result. Through class action lawsuits, a large group of people with the same or similar injuries come together to sue the drug company for compensation for the harm they've suffered. If you were injured by the harmful side effects of a prescription or over-the-counter drug, you may not be alone. To get the drug company to pay you for your losses, you may be able to join a harmful drug class action lawsuit already in progress, or start one yourself.[1][2]

Method 1
Responding to a Notice

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    Read any notice you receive. Particularly if you were harmed by a prescription drug, you may receive a notice regarding any existing class action lawsuit.[3]
    • If you receive a notice, it means you've been identified as a potential member of the class.
    • For example, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs may have received a list of patients who were prescribed the drug by their doctors.
    • Since information about purchasers is more difficult to find, it's unlikely you'll receive a notice if you were harmed by an over-the-counter medication.
    • The notice itself may contain very little information about the lawsuit itself or the harms suffered by the plaintiffs. However, it typically will list a website you can visit or phone number you can call for more information.
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    Assess your options. You may have several options available, depending on how far along the litigation has progressed.[4]
    • If you've received a notice informing you that a judge has certified the class, you may have the ability of opting out, being included in the class, or even participating as a named plaintiff.
    • You may want to consider participating as a named plaintiff if you suffered a serious injury or spent a lot of money on treatment as a result of the harm caused by the drug's side effects.
    • However, if the notice you receive is a notice of settlement, typically your only options are either to accept the settlement or opt out.
    • If your injuries are significant, you may want to opt out and sue the company on your own if you don't believe your share of settlement proceeds would adequately cover your losses.
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    Decide what you want to do. In most cases a notice is sent to inform you that you have automatically been included in a class, but you still may need to contact an attorney.[5]
    • For example, if you've decided you'd like to participate in the lawsuit as a named plaintiff, you typically will need your own attorney.
    • You can contact the attorneys listed on the notice to find out more about what you should do if you want to join the harmful drug class action lawsuit.
    • However, you also may want to talk to an attorney near you who has experience with harmful drug class actions. That attorney can evaluate your case and give you advice on whether you should join the class action lawsuit, file a lawsuit yourself, or do something else.
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    Follow the instructions on the notice. The notice should provide details on how to communicate your decision regarding the lawsuit.[6]
    • The notice typically will have contact information for the attorneys or law firm representing the plaintiffs. Depending on the scope of the lawsuit, there may be different attorneys in charge of plaintiffs in different regions of the country.
    • The notice also may have a phone number you can call, or a website you can visit, if you want to opt out of the class and any settlement. If you were automatically put on the class's registry, you must act to have your name removed.
    • If you decide you want to pursue your own lawsuit, make sure your name is removed from the class's registry before the deadline listed on the notice. Otherwise you'll lose your right to file your own lawsuit.

Method 2
Conducting a Search

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    Search online for class actions. Even if you hear about a class action through a news story or advertisement, you should seek out more information about the harms suffered by the plaintiffs in the class.
    • You often can find information about class action lawsuits by typing "class action" and the name of the drug that caused you problems into a general web search engine.
    • You can narrow your search by including a description of the side effects you suffered or the medical condition that the drug worsened. This can be particularly helpful if there are multiple class action lawsuits involving the same drug.
    • There also are several websites that serve as online databases of class action lawsuits. Most of them have a category devoted to dangerous drugs.
    • is one such website entirely devoted to harmful drugs. The site not only has a searchable index of class action lawsuits, but also other drug information such as FDA recalls.[7]
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    Analyze the information you find. Use court documents or statements made by the attorneys to evaluate the case, rather than news reports or advertisements.[8]
    • The attorney representing the plaintiffs may have created a website devoted specifically to that particular case. These websites can be treasure-troves of information about the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs in the class and the status of the case.
    • Stick to primary sources such as posts created by the plaintiff's attorneys or actual court documents. Other information may be inaccurate or include incorrect interpretations of the lawsuit's claims.
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    Determine if your problem is similar. You can only join the class if the injuries you suffered asa result of taking the drug are identical or similar to those suffered by the plaintiffs.[9]
    • The lead plaintiff represents the class as a whole, so you should compare your injuries to those he or she suffered.
    • You also must compare the cause of your injuries. Typically it's not a problem if your particular injuries were different, as long as they were caused by the same side effect from the same drug.
    • For example, suppose an undisclosed side effect of a drug you were prescribed exacerbated your diabetes. You still may fit in the class even if the plaintiff suffered different injuries – provided they were caused by the same undisclosed side effect.
    • However, you may not fit into the class if the lawsuit is about a different side effect that you didn't experience – even if your injuries were similar.
    • If the cause of both your injuries and the lead plaintiff's injuries was the same, but your injuries were substantially greater, you might want to consider either starting your own lawsuit or become a named plaintiff in the class action already underway.
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    Contact the attorney listed. The attorney representing the plaintiffs can include you in the class's registry.[10]
    • Even if you're on the class registry, the attorney must have your name and address if you want regular updates on the progress of the case and want to receive your share of any eventual award or settlement proceeds.
    • You also may want to provide the attorney with any information you have that you think might be helpful to the case, such as medical records related to your injury.
    • If you were prescribed the drug for a different reason than the named plaintiffs, call the attorney and let him or her know. If they were unaware of the fact that people who were prescribed the drug to treat something else experienced similar injuries from the same side effect, this could open up a whole new group of plaintiffs to add to the class.

Method 3
Starting Your Own Suit

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    Analyze your case. Some preliminary research can help you determine whether your situation was an isolated incident or there are others who had similar problems taking the drug.[11][12]
    • Begin your research by conducting an online search for the drug and the side effect that caused your injuries.
    • Pay attention to social media or blog accounts, and check out reviews. This will give you a good idea of whether other people experienced issues similar to yours.
    • Keep in mind that both the cause and the effect must be the same for everyone in the class. In other words, you all must have suffered similar injuries as a result of taking the same drug and experiencing the same side effect.
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    Talk to an attorney. Class action attorneys typically offer a free consultation to evaluate your case and determine whether a class action is feasible.[13]
    • Class action attorneys take cases on contingency, meaning they don't expect any payment up front. Instead, they receive a portion of your settlement, or of the award if your case goes to trial and you win.
    • Look for an attorney who has specific experience litigating class actions, not just individual personal injury or product liability lawsuits. Class actions come with a lot of technical requirements, and the attorney must have significant resources since cases typically don't result in a quick recovery.
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    Connect to others who took the same drug. Once you've found an attorney, you must find enough other people who were similarly harmed by the drug so a judge will certify the class.[14][15]
    • To get your class certified, you and your attorney must be able to prove that your injuries are representative of similar injuries suffered by a large number of people.
    • The law requires you to make reasonable efforts to contact all potential members of the class. Typically this involves advertisements on television, in print media, and on the internet.
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    Understand your responsibilities as lead plaintiff. While you may get more money than other members of the class, the case will consume a lot of your time and effort.[16][17]
    • You will have decision-making authority regarding litigation strategy and whether to accept any settlement offered, which means you can expect to hear from your attorney frequently.
    • In return for your time and effort, you typically will receive more money than you would if you were just another member of the class.
    • As lead plaintiff, however, you should be focused on having the larger wrong remedied, not just your own recovery. In other words, you should have the welfare of the entire class at heart as you make any decisions regarding the class.
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    Work with your attorney. Throughout litigation, as lead plaintiff you must continue to provide information, coordinate communication with class members, and help with settlement negotiations.[18][19]
    • Class action lawsuits mean people can pool their resources, but it also means there is a lot more information to go through than there would be if there was only one plaintiff.
    • Other plaintiffs in the class also may have their own attorneys, so you may have to work with them as well.
    • Expect your attorney to consult you frequently to decide what to do next in the case and how to react to any settlement offers. You also may be called on for interviews or depositions.

Article Info

Categories: Civil Litigation