In Texas, victims of another’s negligence may file a personal injury claim individually, or they may pursue a single legal action called a class-action lawsuit if they were all victims of the same defendant. It all starts with the filing of the initial complaint.

This complaint will list the plaintiffs, but not everyone needs to be listed at this stage. These initial plaintiffs are called the “representative plaintiffs.” The complaint also identifies the “class,” or the other individuals or entities that have suffered from the defendant’s actions. It ends with the “prayer for relief” that the court will recognize the legal action as a class action.

The case must meet several requirements for class certification. For example, the injuries suffered by the representative plaintiffs should be the same as those suffered by the class. The class should be so well-defined as to make it possible to identify others who are potentially of that class. The potential class members’ injuries must also be similar to those of the rest so that their absence would not hinder the case.

Another requirement is that the class be so numerous as to necessitate a class-action lawsuit. If the judge certifies the class action, a notice will go out to all potential class members, giving them the choice to join in the action.

After certification is when settlement negotiations can usually begin. Those who join personal injury class actions or who intend to start one may benefit from legal assistance since the process can be complicated. If the judge dismisses the case, then an individual may still be able to file the complaint again, this time as a non-class-action complaint. A lawyer may handle all negotiations, and if a reasonable settlement cannot be agreed upon, then the lawyer might proceed to litigation.