You may get unwanted calls or texts from a telemarketer with whom you have no prior relationship. They are trying to sell you something, and it annoys you. They can contact you at inopportune times, taking your attention away from other important things.
Unauthorized telemarketer calls are more than just a bother. They are also illegal under federal law (and possibly under state law).
If you face such calls, consult a California TCPA lawyer to understand your rights and explore legal actions to stop them.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts the ability of telemarketers to make unwanted attempts to contact you. TCPA established the national Do Not Call Registry and restricted the use of automatic dialers. The Federal Communications Commission has issued rules to implement TCPA and clarify what is illegal conduct under the law.
If a telephone solicitor has broken the law and violated your privacy, you do not simply have to ignore the call or delete the text. You can file a lawsuit under TCPA, which gives you a private right of action against those who violate the law. The responsible party may have to pay you compensation for breaking the law.
TCPA litigation is a very busy area these days because companies do not always follow the law. An experienced TCPA attorney can assess your rights to file a lawsuit against the telemarketer who has broken the law. If your case succeeds, you can receive damages for the invasion of privacy that you suffered when the telemarketer contacted you without permission.
TCPA Lawsuit Statistics
Plaintiffs’ attorneys vigorously act to enforce TCPA with more than 1,500 lawsuits every year. However, companies keep breaking the law. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has somewhat cut back on your ability to sue for certain conduct, TCPA cases remain a robust area of the law.
Some of these 1,500 cases are class action lawsuits filed by numerous plaintiffs. Others are individual cases where people seek damages for illegal communications.
The average cost of a TCPA settlement is $6.6 million. These funds get divided between class members who experienced the same conduct. Some cases led to much larger settlements when they demonstrate a widespread pattern of conduct.
When You Can File a Lawsuit for a TCPA Violation
The TCPA prohibits:
- Calling people who have placed their names on a do-not-call registry
- Contacting people between the hours of 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- Calling people through the use of an autodialer that randomly generates phone number
- Sending faxes to people through the use of automated telephone dialing systems
- Making a call with a prerecorded voice with the express written consent of the consumer
Businesses can face severe liability if they break the law. They can be liable for up to $500 per TCPA violation or $ 1,500 if they intentionally break the law. Each phone call or text is its own separate TCPA violation. Companies can find themselves facing hundreds of millions of dollars of potential liability when they face lawsuits.
Know the Rules So You Can Take Legal Action
You can receive compensation when someone breaks the law. First, you need to take legal action against the telemarketer soliciting you.
You must understand the law’s coverage to know when you can receive compensation. If you have received an unwanted call when you are on the Do Not Call registry, and you have no pre-existing business relationship with the caller, chances are that there is something wrong.
You must also be aware when the person making the calls falls under an exception to the TCPA. They can call you when they have a prior business relationship with you or when you have permitted them to call.
You may not have realized, but you might have given permission when you entered a sweepstake asking for your phone number. 501(c)(3) organizations are also not subject to TCPA rules.
Contact an attorney if someone breaks the law. TCPA allows you to take matters into your own hands without waiting for the government to take enforcement action.
Find a Lawyer
Your TCPA lawsuit may seem simple. After all, junk calls you did not ask for – and may have expressly stated that you did not want – might seem like an obvious violation.
Little is straightforward with a TCPA lawsuit. Some responsible parties may try to settle your case quickly because they fear what can happen. Others may come out swinging in litigation, thinking they can beat you in court.
You never quite know what will happen in a TCPA lawsuit and should expect any outcome. Just as there are consumer protection lawyers in California who focus on filing TCPA cases, there are also elite law firms that earn a lot of money to get their clients off the hook to the fullest extent possible.
In addition, the rules and legal precedents under the TCPA are always changing. The Supreme Court and the various Courts of Appeal have decided major cases that have changed your legal rights as a plaintiff.
Your lawyer may need several legal theories under which to try your case. Thus, you want to hire an attorney with experience in TCPA cases.
Your case will begin when you find an attorney to represent you. They will start the legal process, including sending a demand letter to the responsible party or a lawsuit in court.
Document the TCPA Violation
To recover compensation for a TCPA violation, you need to prove that it happened. In most cases, you can prove your case by providing phone records showing that the calls happened. You will need your phone records as evidence of your case.
You must also prepare for the defendant to argue that you consented to the communications. They may claim that you filled out a form that stated they can call you in the future. They may argue that you entered some sweepstakes or signed up for a promotion, stating the telemarketer had your permission to contact you.
Calculate Your Damages
TCPA’s damages formula also seems straightforward. The defendant might have to pay up to $500 for each TCPA violation. Unlike other federal laws, the defendant pays this penalty for each call or unwanted text that they send to you. Thus, the damages can add up quickly. The penalties can grow to $1,500 for each violation if the defendant knowingly violated the TCPA.
Since you already documented your claim using your phone records, you will have a strong idea of the damages you deserve. Your attorney will seek these damages in a demand letter or lawsuit.
In practice, you will probably receive less than the amount of the total damages that you have claimed. If the company has made dozens of unwanted calls to you, they have likely also made these calls to many other people. It is not a stretch to imagine that a large company can face billions of dollars of liability for a large-scale violation of the law. Nonetheless, you can still receive significant financial compensation for a successful lawsuit.
Determine Whether to File Individually or as a Class Action
You can determine whether you want to file your TCPA lawsuit as your case or a class action lawsuit.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a class of plaintiffs to join together to file one lawsuit if they meet four requirements:
- Numerous people must have suffered the same damages (an informal rule is that there must be 40 or more plaintiffs.
- There are common questions of law and fact among the entire group.
- The claims of the representative parties must represent similar claims in the class.
- The named plaintiff will adequately represent the interests of the class.
The court must certify the class for the lawsuit to proceed. The defendant will try to do everything within their power to defeat the class certification because it will make it much more difficult for you to sue.
Theoretically, you can recover compensation as an individual or part of a class, but a class action lawsuit offers a more efficient path to compensation.
Find the Court with Jurisdiction Over Your Case
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, you can file a TCPA lawsuit in federal or state court. Both can hear a complaint that someone violated the TCPA.
You will also need to file the proper federal court in which to sue. They must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. You should file in a court where the conduct occurred or the defendant is. Your attorney can identify the proper court for your lawsuit.
Overcome Any Defenses to Your Lawsuit
Depending on the circumstances, the company may try to defend itself against your lawsuit.
Here are some common defenses that defendants might raise in TCPA cases:
- The most common defense that that defendants successfully use in TCPA cases is that the plaintiff gave consent to be contacted by the company when they opted into communications (such as giving their contact information to enter a sweepstakes)
- Asserting that the particular technology that is at issue is not an automated telephone dialing system
- Attempting to defeat the class certification by arguing that there was not a common harm suffered – if the defendant can defeat class certification, they can head off the entire lawsuit because it will not be practical for thousands of plaintiffs to sue individually. The defendant may try to find individual issues that they can elevate to defeat class certification.
Settle Your Case or Try It in Court
Defendants often take different approaches to TCPA cases. Some may try to settle the case as soon as possible and avoid trial. They fear the potential liability, especially when they know they will likely be found liable for their conduct. Some defendants dread TCPA lawsuits. They know they broke the law and must now pay the price. For them, it is about minimizing their liability instead of fighting back.
Your attorney will negotiate a settlement agreement with the defendant in this event. This settlement can be global and resolve all the individual cases related to the same conduct.
Some defendants may fight to trial. They may believe that they have a viable defense to defeat your claim. Everything depends on the facts of your case and the legal advice the defendant is getting from their attorneys. They may have a motivation to fight you every step of the way.
A TCPA Lawyer Works for You on a Contingency Basis
You do not have to worry about cost when looking for a TCPA lawyer. You do not have to pay anything out of pocket to get legal help. Your TCPA lawyer receives legal fees if and when you win your case. They receive compensation from the proceeds of your settlement or award.
Instead of worrying about money, the contingency fee system allows you to find the best lawyer in terms of experience. Money should not get in your way when looking for an attorney.
TCPA lawsuits are no easy task. Having the right attorney leading your case dramatically improves your chance of success.
Stand up for your rights under the law. This often requires an experienced legal professional assessing your options and identifying the best course of action.
You have nothing to lose by consulting a TCPA attorney in California about your TCPA claim. Set up a free consultation with a trusted law firm near you.