Personal injury lawsuits involving injury from defective products may include claims for violations of state or federal deceptive trade practices laws. A trade practice is a policy or practice that a business employs to gain an advantage over its competitors. Anytime a company engages in a commercial activity that is likely to deceive the public, it has committed a deceptive trade practice. Federal legislation such as the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits engaging in deceptive trade practices, and every state has adopted some form of the Act to regulate deceptive trade practices in the state.
When a company selling a consumer product engages in one or more of these deceptive trade practices, it may cause the consumer to be injured when using the product. For example, if a company that manufactures food products falsely advertises that its products are safe for consumption, consumers who eat or drink the products will be harmed. As a Las Vegas, NV product liability lawyer can explain, those customers can file a personal injury lawsuit alleging, among other things, that the company engaged in deceptive trade practices and caused their injuries.
There are several ways a business can employ deceptive trade practices, including through false or misleading advertising and commercial misrepresentation.
False or Misleading Advertising
Deceptive advertising occurs when a company misrepresents the nature, quality, characteristics, or origin of goods or services. Deceptive advertising can range from making false statements about a product to leaving out details that are necessary to make an advertisement not misleading. False advertising may come in the form of false statements about a product’s quality or effectiveness, false endorsements, false testimonials, and fake photos of the product.
For example, if a supplement manufacturer advertises its product as producing certain health benefits that the product does not have, consumers have a claim for false advertising against the manufacturer. If a company has knowingly advertised misleading, deceptive, or false statements about a product or service, it will be liable for any personal injuries that consumers suffer as a result of that deceptive advertising.
Commercial misrepresentation involves making false or misleading statements to induce a consumer to buy a product or to enter into a contract. For example, suppose a car dealer represents to a buyer that a car has no accident history, which induces the buyer to purchase the car. But in fact, the car is prone to rolling over and has been involved in several accidents in the past. The buyer has a claim for commercial misrepresentation against the seller for making a false statement of fact when selling the car. A defendant will be liable for commercial misrepresentation even if they did not know the statement was false, as long as they should have known it was false due to their training or expertise.
Remedies for Deceptive Trade Practices
Consumers who have been injured due to deceptive trade practices can sue for monetary damages and equitable relief. A plaintiff who has suffered actual harm from the product or service can recover compensatory damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some jurisdictions, punitive damages are also available. The court can also issue an injunction requiring the company to cease certain trade practices or comply with new ones.
Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight on deceptive trade practices lawsuits.