Since a class action involves many plaintiffs, one plaintiff (called the lead plaintiff) usually represents the interests of the other members of the class and act on their behalf. If you happen to be the lead personal injury attorney, you need to know what the position requires of you before the lawsuit process commences. Here are three essential tasks you will be expected to accomplish:
Hiring the Attorney
Your first task as the lead plaintiff is to instigate the lawsuit by hiring an attorney. You need to get the right attorney just as you would when pursuing an individual personal injury case. This means choosing a lawyer with appropriate credentials, experience, reputation, focus, and objectivity. You may have to consult several lawyers before settling on one.
This may not be difficult if you are the only lead plaintiff. However, it may be a bit complicated if the lead plaintiff is actually a small group of people, which sometimes happens if the class size is big (think thousands of plaintiffs). Getting several people to agree on the law firm to hire might require some work.
Consulting With the Attorney
As the lead plaintiff, you represent the members of the class since it's usually not practical to gather all of them every time the attorney needs to consult with the people he or she represents. As such, it is your duty to consult with the class action lawyer, just as you would consult with your attorney in an individual lawsuit.
Some of your consultative tasks include producing the necessary documents, making sworn testimonies, attending hearings, and being involved in court processes. As you can imagine, this is likely to take up a lot of your time.
Agreeing to the Settlement
Lastly, it's also your duty to evaluate the settlement and accept or decline it. This is a difficult task because you are sealing the fate of many people. Members of a class action are usually prohibited from pursuing individual claims or lodging appeals if they are dissatisfied with the courts' decisions.
Therefore, you must look at the interests of the class at large, and not just your interest. For example, it's your duty to reject a settlement that the majority of the class members feel is inadequate, even if you would be satisfied with your share.
As you can see, it's not easy to be a lead member of a class action. That's why you need to choose a lawyer with a personality you can work with; after all, you will be dealing with him or her most of the time on behalf of the other members of the class. It would be best to decline the responsibility if you can't perform it to the satisfaction of the class members.