The legal system in the U.S. is designed to help make things right when the law gets broken. However, the complicated process and high expense of hiring a lawyer discourage many people from seeking the legal reparations they are entitled to. Thankfully, class action lawsuits provide an easier way for individuals to share settlements from legal proceedings against companies.
But what are class action lawsuits? How do they work?
What are Class Action Lawsuits?
A class-action lawsuit, also known as a class suit or representative action, is a type of lawsuit where one party is a group of people represented by a member of that group. In short, it’s a way for large groups of people to take legal action against a company or individual. Here’s the basic process of a class action suit:
- An individual files a lawsuit against a company or individual, claiming wrongdoing
- The individual represents a larger group of consumers who were harmed or mislead in the same way
- Other individuals who are eligible under the terms of the suit can join the suit by filling out a claim form
- If the lawsuit is settled, the settlement funds will be divided amongst all the eligible participants
- In most cases, claimants can get a class action rebate consisting of cash (mailed in a check) or a coupon for free products
The main benefit of a class action suit is that participants don’t need to hire a lawyer or even show up to court. Most of the time, eligible individuals can join a class action suit by filling out a claim form online. For the most part, class action lawsuits are taken up against companies and large corporations. They are often the result of illegal or misleading actions by the company, such as improper labeling, unsafe products, or false advertising.
Class Action Lawsuit Example
For the sake of example, let’s assume that ABC Company makes and distributes olive oil. It comes to light that ABC Company has been labeling their olive oil as “imported from Italy,” when in fact it’s grown and produced domestically in the U.S. This would be considered false advertising, and individuals would be free to bring lawsuits against ABC Company. However, the average person probably wouldn’t want to go through the effort. This is where class action suits come into play.
A single individual could hire legal counsel and form a class action suit against ABC Company. Then, other individuals that purchased ABC Company products could join that suit, without having to hire lawyers or go to court.
Class Action Rebates from Open Settlements
When a class action suit is settled, there is usually a period of time following the settlement where the suit is considered “open”. This means that the case is already complete, and the settlement agreed upon, but it’s still possible for eligible individuals to join in the settlement. You can find open class action settlements easily, and if you are eligible, you can get a class action rebate for very little effort. Usually, you will just need to fill in a simple online form, and then wait to receive your class action rebate in the mail!
What Determines Eligibility for Class Action Rebates?
Each lawsuit is different, but all suits require that each participant meets certain eligibility requirements. Usually, this means you must have been mislead or harmed in some way by the defendant or their products/services. In most cases, this means you purchased a mislabeled, falsely advertised or harmful product from a company that has now settled a class action suit relating to that product.
There are typically two types of eligibility for open class action rebates:
- No proof required: These rebates do not require a proof of purchase, and largely rely on the honor system. These are easier to qualify for, but generally, the settlement amount will be lower (because more people will qualify).
- Proof required: These rebates require you to prove that you purchased a specific product or service that is involved in the lawsuit. Usually, this means showing a sales receipt or product UPC code, or both. These are obviously harder to qualify for, as most people don’t keep receipts for long. Generally, the settlement amount will be higher for these class action rebates that require proof of purchase.
Additionally, some class action rebates are only available to residents of certain areas. There may be other eligibility factors, as well. It’s important to read and understand the eligibility requirements of a suit before applying for an open class action rebate. Do not apply for a rebate that you don’t qualify for!
How to Claim Class Action Rebates
Now that you know more about how class action rebates work, let’s look at how to actually claim them!
- Browse open class action rebates
- Look for products or services you purchased
- Check the details to ensure you are eligible
- Fill out an online form to file the claim
- Wait to receive your check or coupon settlement (usually takes two to six plus months)
It really can be that easy! Of course, some claims are more worthwhile than others. Check the settlement prize pool and the expected payout if there is one to determine if filing for a class action rebate is worth your time.
Open Class Action Rebates
- Hansen’s Juices & Hubert Lemonades Natural Beverages Class Action Settlement – File a claim to receive a $15 full refund with proof of purchase or up to $5 without proof of purchase. Claim Form Deadline: 10/12/18.
Chippewa Footwear “Made in the USA” Class Action Settlement – Class members who file valid claims may receive a $25 cash or a $50 class action rebate. Claim Form Deadline 9/7/18.
- Bertolli Oil Class Action Settlement – File a claim to receive a rebate of $8.75 per product. Claim Form Deadline: 9/8/18 (this date is subject to change based on a variety of factors).
- Flushmate Class Action Settlement – The amount of money any one class member will receive is not known at this time. Claim Form Deadline: 09/18/2018.
Things to Keep in Mind
Now you know the basics of class action rebates and settlements. There are some other things to keep in mind, though:
- Class action rebate amounts often depend on how many people make claims. You won’t always know how much you’ll receive from the claim.
- Sometimes there is a choice between a cash payout and a product voucher/coupon. Usually, the voucher offers a higher value.
- Participating in a class action suit usually waives your right to sue on your own. If you were seriously harmed by a particular product or service, you should speak with a lawyer before filing a class action claim.
- Do not file for a claim you are not eligible for. Class action claims are submitted under penalty of perjury – it’s not worth it to take the risk on a claim you know you are not eligible for.
If you’ve read through this entire guide, you now know all the basics of class action lawsuits and rebates – and how you can earn money from them. Feel free to explore the rest of our site to learn more, and to find rebates you are eligible to claim!