A class action lawsuit is a way for a group of people in New York who have been collectively wronged by an entity to seek compensation. Class actions deal with a number of issues, such as defective products, personal data breaches, mail or wire fraud, or illegal phone solicitation, all of which can harm a large number of people. If successful, a class action suit awards damages to all members of the affected class.

To participate in a class action suit, it is crucial to understand the concepts of opting in and opting out of a class. It is possible to miss out on compensation if you do not proactively join a class. Conversely, not everyone who is similarly wronged by a company or party may wish to participate in a class action suit.

Opting In

The class representative, through his or her legal counsel, will make reasonable efforts to notify members of a particular class that they can join in the class action suit. These advertisements may be run on television, newspapers, magazines or the internet. Once notified, a prospective class member has the chance to join the class, also known as opting in. Kiplinger points out that in many cases, individuals are automatically considered part of a class, and opting in provides a way for a class member to receive compensation.

Opting Out

Just as people choose to join a class to become part of a class action suit, individuals can proactively exclude themselves from a class, called opting out. People may opt out because they are automatically considered part of a class and want to make it known that they are not part of a class action suit. FindLaw explains that one reason individuals opt out is so they can retain the right to file their own individual suit.

Generally, people opt out of a class action suit because they believe they have suffered greater injury than the rest of the class and want to personally litigate for compensation. Sometimes individuals fear that the class action suit may fail and that they will lose the right to file their own suits. However, sometimes opting out is not possible, making the outcome of the class action suit the definitive outcome.

Should I Join a Class Action Suit?

People have varying reasons to join a class or exclude themselves from one. Class action suits have their advantages, but they are not for everyone. People who are conflicted over the issue can discuss the issue with an attorney to understand the best way forward for their particular case.