Consumer Protection Lawyer – Legal Help In Colorado
Consumer Protection Law
The Colorado Consumer Protection Act protects you against unfair or deceptive business practices. Legal Help In Colorado may be able to help if you have suffered an injury as a result of those practices and are in need of a product injury attorney.
Consumer fraud may be defined as an illicit activity that involves deceit or trickery made against an individual purchaser or group of customers, resulting in financial loss or physical harm. When we fall victim to consumer fraud, we are under the impression that we are participating in a legal and valid business transaction, whereas we are actually being defrauded.
Consumer fraud can take many forms. It typically occurs when a person suffers from a financial or personal loss caused by deceptive, unfair, misleading, or false business practices. Although certain categories of consumers, such as senior citizens, may be more susceptible to such practices, the reality is that all of us consumers are at risk. While consumer fraud is an issue in general, it becomes even more complicated when you suffer an injury as a result of dishonest business practices.
As scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud consumers, government and state agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Trade Commission, and the Colorado Attorney General, have joined forces to protect consumers. Likewise, there are a number of federal and state laws in place for the protection of consumers against unfair or deceptive business practices. If you have been hurt by a product as a result of such activity, speaking to a personal injury attorney may be in your best interest.
In Colorado, the main State law dealing with this matter is the Colorado Consumer Protection Act . This is a kind of so-called lemon law—a statutory scheme intended to deter and punish businesses that engage in unfair or deceptive trade practices with the public. The Act provides for both public and private rights. The protection it offers may allow individual consumers as well as public entities such as the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to bring actions for its enforcement. Like many other similar laws, its purpose is to address deceptive and unfair business practices, prevent the development of monopolies, and provide consumers who have suffered a financial or personal loss with legal recourse for their injuries, including provisions for the payment of compensation.
If you have incurred damages, especially those involving physical harm, due to unfair or deceptive practices, you may be able to obtain compensation. However, certain conditions must be met: you will first have to determine whether your individual claim is actually protected under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, in addition to observing certain procedural requirements.
In practice, and even though the law does grant you substantial rights as a consumer, such cases are very intricate. For that reason, you should employ the assistance of a professional who is familiar with the complexity of the issues involved. A standard consumer protection case typically only involved monetary losses, however, if you are injured by the product the case then becomes two-fold. Our legal team at Legal Help In Colorado has experience in pursuing such claims when they cause physical injury, so we encourage you to get in touch and allow us to offer you our guidance in navigating these complex issues.
Liability under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act
There are essentially five fundamental requirements that you will need to consider in order to determine if your private claim falls under the scope of protection offered by the Colorado Consumer Protection Act:
- You will need to establish that the defendant engaged in a deceptive or unfair trade practice under the respective meanings of such practices set out in the Act.
- The deceptive or unfair trade practice must have occurred in the course of the defendant’s business, vocation, or occupation.
- It does not suffice that the said deceptive or unfair trade practice leads to a purely private wrong. Instead, it must be shown that it significantly impacts the public as actual or potential consumers of the defendant’s goods, services, or property.
- The practice in question must have led to an injury against one of your legally protected interests.
- It has to be shown that it has caused actual damages or losses.
Definitions and Determinations
The very first thing you will need to establish is whether your situation actually falls within the description of a deceptive or unfair trade practice under the Act—which is a rather challenging task in and by itself, and one best left to experienced professionals.
The Colorado Consumer Protection Act does not, in fact, provide a specific definition. Instead, it lists over 50 examples of what may constitute such practices. Some indicative examples of a business or person engaging in deceptive or unfair trade practices under the Act include the following:
- Someone who knowingly passes off goods, services, or property as those of another.
- Knowingly makes a false representation as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods, services, or property.
- Knowingly makes a false representation as to the affiliation, connection, or association with or certification by another.
- Knowingly makes a false representation as to the characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, alterations, or quantities of goods, food, services, or property or false representation as to the sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection of a person therewith.
- Represents that goods are original or new but already knows—or should know—that they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand.
- Makes false or misleading statements of fact concerning the price or price reductions of goods, services, or property.
- Employs “bait and switch” advertising, which is advertising accompanied by an effort to sell goods, services, or property other than those advertised or on different terms to those advertised.
- Contrives, prepares, sets up, operates, publicizes by means of advertisements, or promotes any pyramid promotional scheme.
- Disburses funds in connection with a real estate transaction in violation of the applicable rules.
- Violates the legal provisions regarding requirements for automobile rental contracts.
- Fails to comply with the provisions of the law in connection with the issuing, making, providing, selling, or offering to sell a motor vehicle service contract.
- Engages in any commercial telephone solicitation that constitutes an unlawful telemarketing practice.
- Intentionally violates any provision pertaining to rental-purchase agreements for personal property.
- Falsely represents to any person that they have won or are eligible to win any award, prize, or thing of value as the result of a contest, promotion, sweepstakes, or drawing.
- Violates the provisions pertaining to motor vehicle repairs.
- Violates the provisions pertaining to sweepstakes and contests.
From the above, it is clear that various instances of misrepresentation, false advertising, deceptive marketing, product tampering, the sale of products with false certification, tied selling, false free prize or gift offers, deceptive pricing, noncompliance with manufacturing standards, “get rich quick” schemes, identity fraud, and bogus business employment opportunities—to name but a few—may give rise to a consumer fraud claim.
The Act offers protection against deceptive or unfair business dealings to the public and individual persons in their capacity as existing or potential consumers. As a result, the prospective defendant engaging in such misleading practices must have done so in the course of their business, vocation, or occupation.
Moreover, one of the key requirements under the Act for a successful private action is that the matter in question cannot be purely private in nature and scope, as the purpose of the Act is to address practices that have a significant impact on the public rather than address purely private wrongs. This “public impact” requirement often poses challenges in terms of proof and needs to be considered very carefully. There is no hard and fast rule on how to meet this requirement, hence a number of factors may be taken into account for establishing whether a certain trade practice is deemed to have a considerable effect on the public. These include considerations relating to the number of consumers directly affected by the said practice, a track record of other injuries as a result of their actions, their bargaining power, and whether this practice has adversely affected consumers in the past or is likely to do so in the future, and so on.
Whereas public actions, typically brought by law enforcement agencies, commonly seek to contain deceptive business practices and can include criminal sanctions, those brought by consumers focus more on obtaining compensation. In this respect, if you are considering pursuing a private action for consumer fraud, you will need to convince the court that you have suffered an actual injury and that this injury was caused by the unfair or deceptive trade practice in question. In other words, to receive compensation, it is pivotal that you can show both damage in fact, as well as a causal link between this and the alleged unfair or deceptive business practice.
Statute of Limitations (SOL)
The Colorado Consumer Protection Act statute of limitations stipulates that claims must be brought within 3 years after the consumer discovered or reasonably should have discovered the occurrence of the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice . If the injury occurred after the statute of limitations has passed, there is little legal recourse that can be brought against the liable party.
The Act also places a cap on the amount of compensation that may be claimed where a person or business prevails in a claim . Depending on the circumstances of each individual claim, you may be entitled to damages:
- Equal to the greater of $500 (i.e. successful plaintiffs are to be awarded a minimum of $500).
- The actual damages incurred, should they exceed the minimum award of $500. This is often the case with injuries sustained from a product, as the cost of medical treatment tends to surpass the $500 minimum.
- Three times the amount of actual damages incurred if it is shown that the defendant acted in bad faith.
Further to the damages set out above, if your action is successful you may also be entitled to costs and attorneys’ fees for litigating your case, at the court’s discretion.
Consumer Protection vs. Product Liability: Do You Need an Injury Attorney?
The question of do you need an attorney is one that often comes to mind. The answer is different in every situation, but understanding what type of case you have makes a difficult decision a bit clearer. Consumer Protection and Product Liability are often thought of as interchangeable terms, but in reality, are separate matters that occasionally overlap. For example, say a refurbished device such as a smartphone was presented as new and ends up causing burns to a user after failing. This could be both a consumer protection and product liability case. This is because the faulty device caused an injury when being utilized in a normal manner, but also because the device was sold using fraudulent methods. To learn more about what qualifies as a product liability case please click here.
Rely on Legal Help In Colorado
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of consumer fraud arising from unfair or deceptive business practices, contact Legal Help in Colorado today for a free initial consultation or call now (303) 351-2567 to discuss your case in absolute confidence. Our experienced legal team will examine your specific situation and offer you specialized advice on available options.
Need help understanding your rights to seek compensation?
We’re here to help. Contact us to get started.