Five Steps to Establishing a Lemon Law Claim
1. Confirm that the mechanical problem is covered by warranty.
The lemon law gives consumers a practical means of enforcing product warranties. In the case of automobiles, the law requires manufacturers (through their authorized dealerships) to fix mechanical problems as soon as the owner brings the issue to their attention. If the dealership takes too long, or if the repairs are not made correctly, the vehicle owner can demand a refund or a replacement vehicle.
Notice that these rights all hinge on the warranty. If a mechanical problem is not covered, the manufacturer is under no obligation to fix it and the lemon law does not apply. Thus, the first step to establishing a claim is to confirm valid warranty coverage. Extended service contracts and the like are not sufficient – it must be a factory warranty issued by the manufacturer.
2. Take the vehicle to the dealership for repair.
California has one of the most consumer-friendly lemon laws in the nation. At the same time, the law requires vehicle owners to be proactive. When a defect becomes apparent, it is crucial to take the vehicle to the dealership for repair immediately. The date of this first repair attempt will often become a key fact in the case, because it will demonstrate that the dealership did not comply with the law by completing the repairs promptly.
3. Allow the dealership at least one additional repair attempt.
People in Orange County like to drive. With more than 40 miles of gorgeous coastline to experience, who can blame them? Most drivers also grow quite attached to their vehicles. Before giving up on a vehicle that is experiencing mechanical problems, it makes sense to give the dealership a reasonable opportunity to make the repairs, and that is exactly what the lemon law requires.
The tricky part is figuring out how many chances the dealership should get. For passenger vehicles with less than 18 months/18,000 miles, the law gives the following guidance:
|If the mechanical problem is:||The dealership is allowed:|
|Likely to cause serious injury/death||At least two (2) repair attempts|
|Unlikely to cause serious injury/death||At least four (4) repair attempts|
The lemon law provides one exception. If the vehicle has been at the dealership’s repair department for 30 days or more, the owner does not need to give the dealer any additional chances to make the repairs.
4. Gather and preserve documentation.
As far as the lemon law is concerned, if there is no paperwork to prove that a customer took a vehicle to the dealership for repair, it never happened. Dealerships keep track of the work they perform, of course, but do you really want to rely on their records? This step of the lemon law claims process is easy – just be sure to get a copy of the work order each time you take the vehicle in for repairs (regardless of whether the dealership actually works on the vehicle during that visit).
5. Hire a California attorney.
The final step to establishing a lemon law claim is choosing an attorney to prepare, submit, negotiate, and litigate the claim. Not just any attorney will do – lemon law is a niche practice area and you want a lawyer with proven success in this field. Yorba Linda residents choose Neale & Fhima based on our firm’s:
- 40+ years of combined litigation experience
- Favorable outcomes in 99 percent of cases
- Willingness to take on any car manufacturer doing business in California
- Track record of satisfied clients
- Local presence – our home office is a short drive away, in Dana Point.
Our fees are covered by the manufacturer. We use a statutory fee-shifting provision to make the car company pay your legal bill.
Yorba Linda Lemon Law Lawyers
Did you know there are currently 213 miles of streets and 49 traffic signals within the city limits of Yorba Linda? A lot has changed in this community over the years. But, regardless of what the future brings, car owners can always count on Neale & Fhima to protect their rights when the need arises. Call (888) 506-0899 or use the form below to contact one of our lemon law consumer rights attorneys now.