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Ask the Attorney: Can the Average Person Sue a Big Corporation and Win?

By Greg Kohn

Billion-dollar companies face lawsuits frequently, and anyone can sue for any amount. There are pre-settlement loans that make it easier for individuals to obtain litigation funding. Many personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee, so the average person does not need any money to begin a lawsuit. However, winning a case against a big corporation is harder. Our New Jersey business litigation attorney answers questions about business litigation, arbitration, and trials involving big corporations. 

Class Action Lawsuits Against Big Corporations

Corporations are often named in class action lawsuits for defective products or other wrongful acts that injure and harm many individuals. A class action lawsuit involves a single individual or small group of people suing a corporation representing the interests of a “class” of people who have suffered the same wrong. 

Settlements and verdicts in class action lawsuits can total hundreds of millions of dollars. The outcome of a class action lawsuit binds all parties of the class to that outcome, even if a person was not aware they were a member of the class or that the lawsuit was pending. 

Do New York or New Jersey Courts Tend to Favor “the Little Guy”? 

There is a misconception that the law favors corporations over “the Little Guy” when people take big companies to court. However, that is not the case. The misconception lies in the difficulty of suing a big corporation. Challenges a person faces when they take on a large corporation include, but are not limited to:

  • Companies have massive resources to defend and fight claims
  • Suing a large company involves a lot of time and paperwork
  • Expert witnesses are often required in cases involving big corporations 
  • The legal theories may be more complicated to prove
  • The organization’s structure can make it difficult to hold individual parties liable for damages

Sometimes, a customer agreement or contract requires that disputes be settled through arbitration or mediation. Therefore, you cannot sue the corporation. Instead, your dispute is handled through an alternative dispute resolution process.

Even though it might be challenging to sue a big company, it is not impossible with the help of an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney. 

If a Big Corporation Settles a Case, Does It Admit Wrongdoing and Pay Long-Term Damages? 

When a big corporation settles a claim, it does not admit wrongdoing. The settlement agreement states the parties agree to resolve the matter without admitting fault. Excluding admissions of fault prevents the settlement agreement from being used against the company in future cases as an admission of wrongdoing.

The settlement agreement ends the claim. Victims cannot sue the company or demand more money in the future. However, settlement agreements can include compensation for long-term damages when the injured party sustains a permanent impairment or disability. For example, the settlement could include compensation for ongoing medical treatment, long-term personal/nursing care, and reductions in earning capacity. 

Is There a Cap on the Amount a Company Can Be Sued for in New Jersey? 

Some states have caps on how much money a person can receive for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes, the cap applies in all cases. In other states, the cap applies to specific cases, like medical malpractice or government tort claims. 

New Jersey does not limit compensatory damages. You can sue a company for the total of your economic and non-economic damages. There is no limit on the amount a jury can award for these damages. However, punitive damages are capped at $350,000 or five times the compensatory damages award, whichever is greater. Punitive damages “punish” a defendant for specific conduct, but punitive damages are rare. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation With a New Jersey Litigation Lawyer

Our attorneys at Nagel Rice take on big corporations and win. We fight for the rights of injured victims and their families. Call now for a free case evaluation with a New Jersey business litigation attorney.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.