The Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA guarantees many consumer rights for Americans just like you. If a credit bureau or other reporting agency violates those rights, you could have grounds for a successful lawsuit.
But just what might you receive from a successful lawsuit settlement? After all, most civil lawsuits of any type end in a settlement instead of a court verdict. Let's break down what to expect from an FCRA lawsuit settlement in detail.
A lawsuit settlement, put simply, is an out-of-court settlement between two disagreeing parties. When one party sues another – for example, when you sue a credit bureau, credit furnisher, or other organization for violating your consumer rights under the FCRA – both parties don’t have to take things to court all the way.
In fact, the majority of civil cases that don’t deal with outright criminal behavior end in settlement. Settlement occurs when one party, usually the defending party, offers to settle things with the plaintiff out of court. Most of the time, this means a monetary settlement.
For instance, say that you wish to sue a consumer reporting agency for failing to correct any wrong information on your credit report. The consumer reporting agency knows that it has violated your rights severely, so any case that goes to court will not likely go in its favor.
With that in mind, the CRA decides to offer you a settlement of a certain monetary amount. The hope is that you will accept a settlement and things won’t proceed to court, where the plaintiff may have to pay even more money.
In some cases, lawsuit settlements can be strategically smart. In others, it may be better to ignore a settlement offer and push for a court trial. When you work with knowledgeable consumer rights attorneys, they’ll be able to advise you one way or the other.
Under the terms of the FCRA, violators of consumer rights must pay up to $1000 in statutory damages for each individual violation in a given case.
Say that you sue a credit bureau for violating your rights. Your attorneys prove that the credit bureau in question violated your rights three times. That means, in terms of statutory damages, you could recover up to $3000 just for those violations, in addition to potentially other damages like punitive damages, attorney fees, etc.
The difference between likely statutory damages and settlement amounts may help you determine whether it’s wise to accept a settlement in any given case.
That depends on the details of your case. For example, if you have a lot of evidence in your favor, the plaintiff in your case could decide to offer you a very attractive, high monetary amount settlement offer. The goal is to get you to accept a settlement and pay you early because the plaintiff believes they will have to pay more if the case goes to court.
If your case doesn’t have a lot of evidence in your favor, however, and your attorney tells you this, you could receive a very low settlement offer. Even in cases such as this, settlements may be wise to accept. If you take your case to court, it will take more time and cost more in terms of legal fees.
What about specifics? Individual lawsuits generally see smaller FCRA lawsuit settlement amounts compared to class-action or group lawsuits.
Individual lawsuits are those levied by a single individual, like you or some other person, against an at-fault party, like a credit bureau, credit furnisher, etc. Most individual lawsuits don't deal with very high sums of money.
As a result, you could see an FCRA lawsuit settlement amount ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It all depends on how many alleged violations the plaintiff committed in terms of your rights.
Class action lawsuits usually see much larger lawsuit settlement amounts. That’s because class action lawsuits include many individuals filing a lawsuit together as a joint party. For instance, if several dozen people get together and decide to file a lawsuit against a credit furnisher together due to FCRA violations, they could see a lawsuit settlement amount in the tens of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Note, of course, that each individual in this group does not get to keep that amount of money. Instead, it’s divided up between the individuals filing the lawsuit and their different legal teams (or the legal team that represents everyone in the class action lawsuit). Regardless, many class action lawsuit settlement amounts end up being similar to what a single individual could expect.
Until you work with attorneys and break down the details of your case, there's no way to fully predict what lawsuit settlement amounts you may be offered or if you will be offered a settlement in the first place.
However, you should never work with an attorney that guarantees a certain settlement amount or a certain case outcome in a specific amount of time. Even the best, most experienced attorneys can't fully predict the behavior of other people or organizations, like credit bureaus and reporting agencies.
Thus, an attorney that claims they can guarantee you a certain settlement amount in a week is lying and should be skipped over in favor of a better, more trustworthy law firm.
As you can see, the actual settlement amount you can expect from a successful FCRA lawsuit can vary heavily depending on case specifics and your legal representation. One thing is absolutely clear: the legal team you work with can make or break your FCRA legal case.
That’s why you should contact Fair Credit today. Our experienced, specialized attorneys can help you develop the most effective FCRA lawsuit case and maximize your chances of getting a financially satisfying settlement. Contact us today to learn more.