Deceptive Trade Practices
What Is The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act?
The major consumer protection law in Texas is the Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act (DTPA), which was passed in 1973.
The act protects consumers against companies that engage in misleading, false or deceptive business practices. It also covers breaches of warranty. The legal definition of a consumer is anyone who buys or leases goods or services.
What Are Some of the Practices the DTPA Prohibits?
The DTPA prohibits a number of different practices, including:
- Breach of Warranty – any breach of a written or verbal warranty.
- Unconscionable Acts – a business that exploits a consumer’s lack of knowledge, ability or capacity to a grossly unfair degree.
- False/Misleading/Deceptive Act – any act that is to the consumer’s detriment. There are many acts that fall under this category. However, an example includes a company passing off goods or services as those of another. Another example is when a company passes off goods as new when they are actually old or reconditioned. Yet another one is when a company presents goods or services as being of a high standard or quality, when it knows that they are not. A company that misleads or makes false claims about the goods and services of another company also falls into these category. Finally, another common example is a company that advertises a sale by falsely claiming it is going out of business.
What Is the Process of Filing a DTPA Lawsuit?
When you file a DTPA claim against another party, you must first abide by some prerequisites, which include:
- 60-Day Notice – you must give a written notice to the defendant a minimum of 60 days prior to filing your claim. The written notice must detail your complaint. It must also include the actual damages as well as damages you are seeking for pain and suffering and lawyer fees. What happens if you don’t receive a response to your letter? Or, what happens if the complaint is not addressed and compensated for? In those cases, you can then proceed with the claim.
- Defendant Options – once you have filed a lawsuit, the defendant can pay the damages you requested, ignore your request, propose a settlement and give it to your lawyer within 60 days of receiving the lawsuit notice, or propose mediation to arrive at a compromise.
It is also important to know that during a trial, the court may award additional damages that are in excess of the damages that you requested. This occurs if the court finds that the defendant acted knowingly or intentionally in their deceptive trade practice against you.
The court can award a maximum of three times your economic damages if it finds that the defendant knowingly committed deceptive practices.
Hiring a Lawyer To Protect Your Rights As a Consumer
Although the DTPA gives consumers broad parameters to file a claim against a third party, you still need an experienced consumer protection lawyer to help you negotiate a settlement, provide you with advice during a mediation, or pursue a jury trial against a company that refuses to settle.
Experience is the foundation of David K. Wilson & Associates, and our track record in these cases offers you the best chance to achieve a just outcome. Please call us today at (903) 870-9050 for a free legal consultation.