Frequently Asked Questions

What is “consumer protection” law about?

Consumer protection laws, both federally and on a state level, are a means to protect consumers from fraudulent or unfair business practices, defective goods and services, and ensure individuals have adequate protections from major institutions. Consumer protection legal work can cover everything from product warranties, banking and credit, the purchasing of a car, or almost any other consumer interaction we participate in on a daily basis. Generally speaking, consumer litigation relies on the law as a way for individuals to fight back against abusive business practices and assure them compensation for the harm they have suffered.

If I want to make a complaint about a business’s practices, who can I go to?

As a consumer protection firm, we are always ready to assess if you may have a legal claim for a business’s practices. However, litigation is not the only route at your disposal. If your concern relates to the financial sector, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a federal agency that deals with consumer complaints and offers resources on unfair business practices. (https://www.consumerfinance.gov/). More broadly, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection also offers various resources for consumers to report unfair practices and to educate them about their rights under the law (https://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/bureaus-offices/bureau-consumer-protection). As well, your specific state may similarly have its own consumer protection agency which can assist you in addressing any consumer complaint.

How do I pay for legal services if I don’t have the financial resources?

Often, consumer protection lawyers are familiar with clients who may not have the means to stand up against a major corporation in litigation. This is why many firms, including Marcus Zelman, may choose to proceed with a client on a “contingency fee” basis. A “contingency fee” is a form of payment to a lawyer for their legal services. In contrast to a fixed hourly fee, in a contingent fee arrangement lawyers receive a percentage of the monetary amount that their client receives when they win or settle the case. This means that, generally, the lawyer only receives compensation if the lawyer has successfully represented the client. Contingency fee agreements have the effect of: (1) improving access for indigent clients by enabling people who could not otherwise afford counsel to assert their claims; (2) providing incentive for attorneys to seek client success; and (3) enabling clients to shift risk of losing to the lawyer.
All contingency fee agreements with Marcus Zelman will explain the nature of how the payment will be calculated, what you can expect out of your recovery, and any other concerns you may have about covering the costs of bringing your lawsuit.

What is a class action and why might I want to bring my claim that way?

A class-action lawsuit is a civil lawsuit brought on behalf of a group of people or business entities who have suffered common injuries as a result of the defendants’ conduct, with at least one individual or entity acting as a representative of that group. While the issues of a class action can vary, the issues in dispute are common to all class members. Class actions can be brought in state or federal court. One advantage of class actions is that many individual cases do not have enough damages to justify the time and expense to bring the cases separately. As an example, a bank might be charging illegal fees of $20 to $100 dollars to millions of customers. Because the damages are so small, it simply wouldn’t be worth the time and expense for a lawyer to bring a $100 lawsuit for each and every customer. One class-action case claiming several hundred million dollars on behalf of millions of clients is worth the time of the class members. One recovery also means all the victims get a fair distribution of the damages. A class action can also be a favorable approach by consumer plaintiffs in that it can afford them much greater bargaining power against a large corporation than they would otherwise have as an individual claim.

How do I know if I should bring a lawsuit?

That question is at the forefront of what we at Marcus Zelman do. Our team of experienced attorneys can help consult with you and assess whether you may have a viable claim for the harm you may have suffered. With a wide arrange of practice areas and factual scenarios, we afford our clients a FREE consultation in order to assess their situation before entering into a formal client-lawyer relationship. This gives you the chance to speak to our team before deciding whether to choose us or proceed any further with your claim.

How long does litigation take?

It’s hard to be concrete here. First off, bringing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean it will get to a judge or a jury. In reality, roughly 97% of civil lawsuits are resolved before going to trial. This is because many parties like to settle before trial, as this determines the outcome and doesn’t leave the decision to the courts. If the parties begin discussing resolution early on and ultimately reach an agreement, then the subsequent settlement of the case ends the matter. If negotiations are swift, then it could begin and end within a few weeks or months. However, settlement discussions can begin at any time, whether at the outset of the case or at a much later date and continue on through various phases of litigation. Trial dates are typically set for 12 months after the suit is filed, and various factors can lead to extensions of that date. Some cases can even take multiple years. Needless to say, there are many factors that can play into how long it may take to litigate your case.

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