James T. Nyeste Attorney at Law CoverageLaw.com
Individuals who feel that they have suffered undue hardship due to an insurance or indemnity company's decision to deny or rescind health coverage, or any other breach of insurance contract that has been made in bad faith, may consider pressing charges against the company and seeking compensatory damages plus penalties or punitive damages where available. Consumers have the option to create a mass action, or in some situations a class action, to collectively bring their claims arising from the insurance company’s activity. In a “mass” action, each individual is separately named as a plaintiff in the case. In a “class” action, the case is brought by a named representative on behalf of a described class of persons who do not individually join the suit.
The first step in creating a collective lawsuit against an insurance company is to determine whether there are other individuals who would have similar claims. Each individual must have suffered damages as a direct result of the insurance company’s bad faith denial, coverage rescission or other breach of contract. For a collective action to proceed as a class case, the potential claimants must be so numerous as to make individual joinder impracticable.
Individuals who attempt to start a collective lawsuit can use a variety of resources to identify potential members of their action. Scouring message boards on the Internet is a great way to create a network of citizens who have been harmed by a particular insurance company's misconduct.
After a pool of claimants has been identified, it is time to establish the grounds on which the collective lawsuit will be based. Members of the group must have a common factual or legal ground on which their claims are based, meaning that each member must have a legitimate claim that directly involves the same charges that will be brought against the insurance company. In a class action, the questions of law or fact common to members of the class must predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.
In a “mass” action where every claimant is individually a named plaintiff, there is no formal representative among the claimants, but in a “class” action there is a named representative who personifies the group as a whole. The class representative must be willing and able to serve as the intermediary between the group and the court.
A class representative should possess strong communication skills, a desire for justice, logical expectations and an adequate amount of time and resources to effectively represent the group. The representative will be responsible for speaking on behalf of the group, dealing with the class attorneys, and many other duties associated with bringing charges against the insurance company.
The final step in starting a collective lawsuit, whether a “mass” or “class” action, is to hire a Chicago insurance coverage attorney to provide counsel for the group. Hiring an experienced lawyer can be the difference between winning and losing a case. Hiring a Chicago insurance coverage attorney can be the most important decision a group has to make, due to the fact that an attorney who is experienced in practice areas such as insurance, class actions and collective lawsuits, has the knowledge and experience to successfully represent large groups seeking damages against large insurance companies.