Frequently Asked Questions

Here is some information to help you understand the world of class action lawsuits, and how you can apply for an award.

What is a class action?
Stages of a class action
What does it mean when a class action is settled?
I think I'm a potential candidate - what should I do?
How do I get my award?

What is a class action?
A class action is the legal process that occurs when numbers of people (the class) believe they have been wronged by the actions of one common person or organization. They are said to have a common claim against the organization (usually a company). One or more law firms will start a class action when they see these common claims.

A class action is intended to be a more efficient method of dealing with common claims. There may be hundreds or thousands of people with the same claim (called claimants). Rather than having numbers of individual actions, they are grouped together in a class action.

Stages of a class action 
There are a number of stages of a class action.

1.  Before a class action even starts a significant amount of analysis is done by a plaintiff firm to determine if there is indeed merit to a claim. Even if there appears to be merit, it has to be proven in court and can be very costly to proceed.  The firm(s) also works to determine how big the class is (i.e. how many potential claimants there are), and determine if a class action is the recommended type of action.

2.  A class action is initiated when one or more law firms file a Statement of Claim with the court.  Statement of Claim identifies the organization the claim is against and identifies the alleged 'wrongs' done and proposed the damages that should be paid to the claimants.

The organization (called the defendant) generally opposes the claim and files a corresponding Statement of Defence..

3. Both sides prepare their information to bring their Claims to the court for examination and a judgement.  The court then examines the Claims and hears evidence by both sides to determine if the claim basically has some merit and if a class action is an appropriate method to deal with this claim.  If the court determines that this to be true, they will certify the action.  The court is only saying at this point that this claim warrants further examination and that a class action is an appropriate method.  After certification, there are notices in newspapers and on the internet that advice the public of this action..

4. The next major step is a trial called the common issues trial where both sides present their evidence and the court (basically a judge) decides if the claim is true.

There are some furthers steps that occur that deal with individual claims.

What does it mean when a class action is settled?
This means that the law firms representing the claimants and the defendant have agreed to terms to settle the claims - documented in a Settlement Agreement.  The terms generally include compensation to be paid to the claimants.  There may be numerous levels of compensation - people with a more significant impact generally get a larger award. This generally happens after Certification and before the Common Issues Trial.

The Settlement Agreement also defines the criteria for exactly what has had to occur to be eligible for a claim. For personal injury/medical action this will normally a medical event (for example a heart attack or stroke) and some criteria for use of a drug or medical device or a healthcare person/facility provided by the defendant.

Claimants must then prove their eligibility with documented evidence. This usually involves medical records from all healthcare providers that documents your usage of the defendant's product or service and medical records confirming the medical event that occurred with you. This documented evidence is put together into a Claim Package.

The Settlement Agreement identifies a Claims Administrator who is an independent company appointed to and responsible to the court to evaluate the Claim Packages submitted and eventually distribute the awards. 

I think I'm a potential candidate - what should I do?
This depends on what stage the action is at. Contact The Optio Group to find out what stage the action is at. We will ask you some questions to determine if you are a potential claimant for the action.

If you are a potential candidate, we do recommend that you do some preparation immediately. Contact us for details on how to start preparing to make a claim.

If the action is at an early stage, the specific criteria for who gets an award is not determined. We may refer you to a law firm in your province that is dealing with this action - as you may need some legal advice.

If the action has settled, we can quite accurately evaluate your eligibility with a phone call. We collect the information required to complete the Claim Package, and identifying the doctors, healthcare facilities, potentially pharmacies that would have the medical records required to confirm medical events and subsequent treatment you received.

Our detailed knowledge of the medical field and the corresponding medical records enables us to complete the Claim Package so it decisively proves your claim. Should there be any issues with your Claim Package, we will work with you to address any deficiencies.

Distribution of awards
The submitted claims are then evaluated by the Claims Administrator. This takes some time (12-24 months or more) as the eventual awards given may be adjusted depending on the number of successful claims.

Once the claims are distributed, awards are forwarded to The Optio Group. We will quickly send you a cheque for your award (minus our 15% plus disburements fee).