Bradenton Consumer Protection Lawyer
A number of laws protect consumers in general. But they don’t protect individual consumers and they usually have no private right of action. So, many companies and contractors feel like they can run roughshod over individual consumer rights. To even out this power imbalance, in 1973, state lawmakers enacted the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. This law, which is sometimes called the “little FTC Act,” empowers individuals to take action against unfair consumer practices.
However, the broadest consumer protection law imaginable is only ink on paper unless an experienced Bradenton consumer protection lawyer enforces it. That’s the kind of representation available at the Cahall Law Firm. We routinely handle these matters in Manatee County and nearby jurisdictions. So, we are familiar with all the procedural rules in all local courts. As a result, our professional team knows what it takes to obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.
This law protects consumers, both individuals and organizations, during commercial transactions. “Transactions” include pre-sale activities, like advertising. Furthermore, all kinds of commercial transactions, including renting and leasing, are protected.
As mentioned, not many consumer protection laws include a private right of action. Usually, only the state Attorney General or another official may use these laws. But the FDUTPA is different. Individuals may partner with a Bradenton consumer protection lawyer and take legal action.
Most consumer protection claims have the same basic elements, and FDUTPA claims are no exception. The three essential prongs are:
- Deceptive practice,
- Cause (link between the deceptive practice and damages), and
- Actual damages.
The law is clear that the plaintiff must suffer actual damages. That usually means losing money or not getting decent value for the money spent.
The law intentionally does not define “Unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” It simply states that such practices are unlawful. So, if you feel like you were cheated, legally, you probably have a case.
Your Claim for Damages
Providing proper notice is one of the most important parts and most overlooked parts of a consumer law claim. Many companies, especially those with a history of unfair practices, often change names or have a legal name that’s different from their d/b/a (doing business as) names. A mistake here could either derail your claim or cause a costly delay.
If the defendant willfully engaged in deceptive practices, a civil penalty of up to $10,000 could apply. Furthermore, the defendant must normally pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.
Mediation, before or after a claim is filed, often resolves these disputes. A third-party mediator meets with both sides and tries to forge a settlement agreement. If both sides negotiate in good faith, which basically means they are willing to make compromises if that’s what it takes to reach an agreement, mediation is usually successful.
So, in a consumer law claim, your attorney must be a good negotiator as well as a good litigator. If that’s not the case, you might end up settling your claim for less than it is worth.
Contact an Experienced Manatee County Lawyer
Aggrieved consumers usually have legal options in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced consumer protection lawyer in Bradenton, contact the Cahall Law Firm, PLLC. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.