FRAUD LAWYER IN TEXAS – DO I HAVE A FRAUD CLAIM?
WHAT IS FRAUD UNDER TEXAS LAW?
Committing an act of Fraud is illegal and can be both a civil violation and a crime. A civil violation means that you have a legal remedy in court against the perpetrator of the fraud but are entitled only to damages. If you are looking to get jail time for the offender, you need to refer the matter over to the local state district attorney.
HOW DO YOU PROVE FRAUD UNDER TEXAS LAW?
The elements of fraud – the points your lawyer needs to prove – are as follow:
- False representation of fact made by another
- The party had knowledge the representation was false when it was made
- The party intended to induce the plaintiff to act or avoid acting because of the false information
- The plaintiff suffered damage as a result of relying on the false information
The points are typically referred to as “prima facie elements” and can be generally thought of as a recipe. You need ALL of the ingredients to make a dish – and the same for a lawsuit. If you leave out an element, you lose as a chef and a client!
As a lawyer of 36 years, I have run into fraud cases repeatedly and it is a large part of the work we perform at the Moster Craft law firm and its 8 offices across Texas. Although we encounter Fraud cases in many areas, we see it frequently when it comes to the installation of solar systems and home construction.
In the typical fraud solar panel case, the elements are easy to prove. Here is an illustration and how it relates to the “prima facie” elements for fraud:
- Solar installer falsely promises that solar system will save money on electric bill and customer will get a rebate. These representations are false as customer will not save money and not receive a rebate. Element 1 is proven.
- The installer as an expert in the area of solar power had knowledge that the representations were false. Second element proven.
- The installer induced the customer to rely on the false representation as the goal was to get a signed contract and payment for the false solar services. Third element proven.
- The customer paid the money and is stuck. The customer signed on the dotted line and paid the money. Fourth element proven.
HOW DO LAWYERS HANDLE FRAUD CASES IN TEXAS?
It varies based on the law firm approach and lawyer you select. Typically, a lawyer will send out a demand letter to the party who committed the fraud in an effort to (1) state the severity of the violation of law, (2) threaten a lawsuit if not resolved, and (3) make an offer to resolve the claim. Although a demand letter is a necessary first step, it does not always result in a resolution. If that occurs, a lawsuit will be necessary to obtain a recovery for the client.
SHOULD THE CLIENT CONSULT AN ATTORNEY?
That is a good idea as a lawyer can assess whether you have a valid claim for recovery based on the existence of fraud under Texas law. There are some defenses to fraud claims including the statute of limitations which a lawyer can explain. The strength of your case depends on the specific facts.
At Moster Craft, we are here to help. Feel free to give us a call for a free consultation which also includes a complimentary review of any document.