The legal world is often confusing and full of nuances. Because of this, private individuals may not understand all of the rights and abilities they are legally entitled to use. One such option is the private right of action, which grants individuals the ability to seek remedy or punitive damages when they have been wronged in certain ways. If someone has done something harmful to you, you may have a private right of action-ven if you have never encountered that term before. Here’s what you need to know.
What Does Private Right of Action Mean?
You can begin to understand this concept by breaking it down into each of its pieces. First, “private” refers to everyday individuals rather than, say, government authorities or organizations.
Next is the term “right.” Anything that is a right is granted to the involved party automatically and is defendable and guaranteed as an action that they can take. Finally, “action” specifically refers to a lawsuit; in other words, it is a “legal action.”
All together, a private right of action means a private person’s ability to legally enforce their rights upon other people or even organizations. Think of it like the inverse of getting in trouble with the police and needing to appear in court; instead, a private person has the right to force the police to go to court for something they did.
Types of Private Rights of Action
There are two types of private rights of action: express and implied. These terms refer to whether the rights that have been violated are (or are not) written and codified somewhere in so many words. For example, the Supreme Court has determined in the past that it is illegal to defraud people and that people who are defrauded have legal recourse. If a company defrauds you, you may use your express private right of action to sue that company; your ability to do so and the rights that the company violated are “expressly” written in previous Supreme Court determinations.
In contrast, implied rights are those that can be inferred from other rights but are not directly spelled out. For example, say that a police officer comes into your home while you are away at work without a warrant and damages some of your belongings during a search. The law does not explicitly say that police officers are forbidden from entering someone’s home and damaging their belongings, but it is known that the officer needs a warrant and that there was no cause for the damaged items. Thus, you may exercise your implied private right of action to seek damages.
The Most Common Legal Moves Seen from Private Right
There are certain scenarios in which the right of a private individual to take action occurs more often than others. Many of these legal actions will only occur in certain states due to specific laws that affect that state only, such as Illinois’ strict biometrics laws or California’s Consumer Protection Act. However, some types of federal codes that apply nationwide are common culprits spurring the use of private right to action.
The Clayton Antitrust Act is one such law. This act prevents certain business behaviors like stopping employees from forming unions or preventing them from going on strike. If a company does this, private citizens may exercise their private right to bring legal action against the business, even if it is a large corporation.
Similarly, some of the most common private right of action cases involve HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Both of these regulations provide strict rules about how private health information can be handled or shared, as well as how public entities like businesses and workplaces must treat individuals with disabilities. If these laws are violated, private citizens have the right to sue the offending entity for its behavior, regardless of that entity’s size.
In other words, private right of action ensures that the “little guy” always gets a chance to make sure that their rights are protected, even when facing a large entity that otherwise may not be responsive to legal action.
Trust the Professionals to Help You Use Your Private Right of Action if Necessary
If your rights have been violated and you believe that you have a claim to take legal action, your next best step is to get in touch with an attorney. The professionals at The Brown Firm can walk you through how private right of action works and help you to construct a case to defend your rights. Reach out to learn more or to schedule a consultation to get started.