What Happens to Unclaimed Class Action Settlement Money?

We’ve talked about this a lot: When a class action lawsuit settles, the court develops a plan to distribute the amount between the attorneys, lead plaintiff(s) and class members. Next, the court contacts each person so that class members can claim their money. However, in some cases, attorneys don’t have the contact information of potential class members who could claim part of a financial settlement. That’s why sometimes not all class members claim their money. In other words, class action lawsuits are a large and growing source of unclaimed funds.


Wondering what happens to the unclaimed class action settlement money? Well, in fact, the attorneys for both sides reach an agreement during settlement negotiations regarding who should receive the unclaimed settlement funds. In general, here’s what usually happens to the unclaimed class action settlement money.

Returned to the Defendant

In some cases, the unclaimed settlement goes right back to the defendant. No worries! The company doesn’t gain any income from the refund. The court can order the defendant to reduce the price it charges for its products in proportion to this refund.

Donated to Charity

Sometimes the court donates some of the unclaimed money in the fund to a charity, non-profit organization or a university. This is certainly one of the best ways to prevent the settlement money from reverting back to the defendant.

Distributed to Known Class Members

In some settlements, unclaimed funds are distributed evenly among the known class members. What a great surprise for class members who had previously received payment from the class action settlement! Yes, it feels so good to receive extra money, doesn’t it?

Wrapping Things Up

If you have received a notice stating that your legal rights may be affected by a class action lawsuit, read the document carefully. There may be a deadline for you to submit a claim. Otherwise, the court will distribute the unclaimed class action settlement money in one of the given three ways.

Also, remember that you can always check the websites below to review the current list of open class action lawsuits or settlements.

The lists are updated daily and cover all class action lawsuits filed in courts across the country. These websites make searching for class action lawsuits easier and faster.

And one more thing: Dial (818) 553-1000 to discuss your class action claim with one of our talented lawyers at the Margarian Law Firm. Initial consultations are always FREE, so you have nothing to lose by giving us a call.

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