The Lemon Law Process
How to Recover Compensation for a Defective Vehicle
If your vehicle or commercial goods have been repaired a reasonable number of times but they still don’t meet the requirements stated in your manufacturer’s warranty, then your vehicle is a lemon, and you are deserving of a replacement or refund.
If your vehicle or good doesn’t fall within the specifications of lemon law, then you may be able to receive cash reimbursement due to the diminishing value of your vehicle or good. In California, the lemon law applies to new or used vehicles that fall within the warranty.
How Long Does the Lemon Law Process Take?
Normally, lemon law proceedings take three to six months, and they’re rarely resolved within 30 days. Manufacturers are supposed to act forthwith to replace or repair your vehicle or consumer good, but unfortunately, most of them don’t. If the manufacturer refuses to repair or replace your vehicle or product, then it will take even longer, because they’ll have to be ordered to do so through litigation.
Does the Manufacturer Need to Pay My Legal Fees?
California Lemon Law doesn’t specifically state that your manufacturer has to pay your legal fees, but your warranty may include legal fees. California Lemon Law states that “other official fees” should be included in the repayment, and this may include your legal fees. If you have any questions, you can consult a legal professional to help you review your manufacturer’s warranty and case.
Does My Vehicle Qualify for Lemon Law?
The Song-Beverly Act set a presumptive guideline to determining how an automobile purchase is defined as a lemon.
If your vehicle meets one of the following criteria within 18 months of delivery to you (the buyer or lessee) or 18,000 miles on the vehicle’s odometer, then you may be entitled to a lemon law buyback:
- The manufacturer has made more than one attempt to repair a warranty problem that could cause serious injury or death when then the vehicle is driven (for example, brake failure).
- The manufacturer has made more than three attempts to repair the same warranty issue. Owner’s manuals and manufacturer agreements can specify that an owner notifies them, in writing, about the problem. Be sure to check your original documentation to ensure that you’re in compliance with the rules outlined in your warranty (for example, paint is chipping and crumbling away).
- Your vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days because of repairs to multiple warranty issues. The 30 days don’t have to be consecutive. The problems must be covered by the warranty and reduce your vehicle’s value, safety, or use, and are not caused by your own abuse of the vehicle.
Your vehicle does not fall within the criteria of lemon law if it is sold “as is.” Your vehicle also is outside the statutes of lemon law if it is not covered in the manufacturer’s warranty, or your warranty has expired. Even if your vehicle is not considered a lemon, you still may be entitled to cash compensation. Consult an expert legal professional about the ramifications of your warranty and how to approach the intricacies of your particular case.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Deal With My Lemon Law Case?
It’s not absolutely necessary to hire an attorney to help you arbitrate or litigate your lemon law case. However, hiring a legal expert with experience in lemon law cases will help you ensure that you get all that you can. Even though you can represent yourself, going to trial without the legal backing of an attorney may prevent you from getting the compensation that you desire.
Hiring an attorney will reduce the amount of runaround you face. An attorney will be able to communicate with your manufacturer’s lawyers on your behalf and reduce the amount of time that you may have to wait for your buyback or replacement vehicle. If your manufacturer’s warranty covers your legal fees, it would behoove you to work with a reliable and credible lemon law attorney.
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