Here’s How to File a Lemon Law Claim

If you’re wondering how to file a lemon law claim, then you’ve landed on the right page. Pursuing a lemon law claim is a lot like going on a road trip – you need to know where you are going and the best route to get there. The attorneys at Neale & Fhima know the process well. We can assist you from start to finish and make sure the auto manufacturer respects your legal rights.

Every state has its own lemon law statute. California’s version of the law is very consumer friendly and includes unique provisions designed to help vehicle owners and lessees. Purchasers and lessees of vehicles under warranty can insist that repairs be performed properly and without unreasonable delay. If the repair work falls short in either respect, consumers can demand a refund, replacement, or other financial compensation.

Bear in mind, though, that auto manufacturers are multibillion-dollar corporations. Lemon law claims cut into their profit margins. That’s why it’s so important that you know how to file a lemon law claim properly. Every major car company doing business in California has a team of warranty specialists and defense lawyers charged with avoiding or minimizing otherwise valid claims.

Our lemon law attorneys never allow themselves to be intimidated by the large automakers, and neither should you. If you want an aggressive and unstoppable lemon law attorney, choose Neale & Fhima. For a free initial consultation about your case, call us at 888-407-2955.

Here is an overview of what to expect during the claims process:

Five Steps: How to File a Lemon Law Claim

Step 1 – Seek Legal Counsel

Deciding whether to hire an attorney for any legal matter requires a cost-benefit analysis. In an uncontested divorce, for example, it may not be prudent for the parties to hire their own lawyers. On the other hand, the plaintiff in a complex personal injury case would be making a grave error by deciding to forgo representation.

Fortunately, when it comes to how to file a lemon law claim in California, the law makes the decision to hire an attorney very simple. Auto manufacturers are required by statute to pay all of the legal fees and expenses of the consumer’s attorney following a successful lemon law claim. In the event the claim is not successful, most reputable law firms (including ours) will not charge the client for the legal work performed. This means that claimants have everything to gain and nothing to lose by retaining an attorney when it comes to how to file a lemon law claim.

Step 2 – Initial Consultation About How to File a Lemon Law Claim

You will need to consult with your attorney at the outset of the claims process to understand how to file a lemon law claim. At Neale & Fhima, we strive to make this initial consultation as convenient and straightforward as possible. We can conduct the meeting by telephone, and we will never ask for a consultation fee when discussing how to file a lemon law claim. The purpose of the consultation is for us to review your vehicle’s repair history, evaluate the merits of your claim, and answer questions you may have, such as:

  • How to file a lemon law claim?
  • Is my vehicle a lemon under California law?
  • Must I give the dealer another opportunity to repair the defect?
  • Will I need to gather additional lemon law documentation?
  • How much will I owe on my car loan when the case is over?
  • Does the “mileage deduction” apply, and how will it be calculated?
  • Should I request a buyback or a replacement vehicle?
  • When can I expect to receive the money from a cash settlement?
  • All factors considered, how much is my claim worth?

The knowledge you gain during the initial consultation (and from follow-up discussions with your lemon law attorney) will allow you to make informed decisions throughout the remainder of the claims process as you think about how to file a lemon law claim.

Step 3 – Filing The Claim

If it appears that you have a valid claim, your attorney will file a claim or complaint against the auto manufacturer. This begins the formal lemon law claims process. Your filed claim will assert your rights under California’s lemon law and request that the manufacturer provide your desired remedy.

Manufacturers rarely (if ever) resolve a claim based solely on receiving a filed claim or complaint. The document is crucial nonetheless in how to file a lemon law claim. In our experience, cases that are initiated through the filing of claim are more likely to settle with greater value to the consumer. If you have additional questions about this, call us at 888-407-2955.

Step 4 – Settlement Negotiations

Most people are generally familiar with the concept of settlement negotiation. Broadly speaking, it consists of a series of counteroffers between the parties that eventually leads to a voluntary agreement and resolution of the case. But what drives negotiations in a lemon law case? Besides a desire to avoid formal litigation, what factors do the parties consider when deciding whether to settle?

The answer is two-fold in how to file a lemon law claim. First, the parties take into consideration any legal or factual “trouble spots” in the claim. The manufacturer may believe the consumer misused or modified the vehicle in a way that contributed to the defect, for example. These types of factors weigh in favor of a smaller settlement.

Second, the parties understand that if the case proceeds to trial, the full extent of the manufacturer’s mistreatment of its customer will come to light. This can result in a substantial verdict in favor of the consumer, and therefore weighs in favor of a larger settlement. These are factors your attorney will take into consideration when determining how to file a lemon law claim.

Finding a middle ground is what settlement negotiations are all about. Of course, the skill and reputation of the attorney representing the lemon law claimant plays a key role. Auto manufacturers are sure to consider the formidability of their opponent when making settlement decisions. This is where Neale & Fhima shines! We have a 99% success rate in these cases.

Step 5 – Litigate the Claim (When Necessary)

If the manufacturer refuses to settle on terms you find agreeable, the claim will move to the litigation stage. This is an aggressive and powerful move when it comes to how to file a lemon law claim. Not all cases get to the courtroom – in fact, most cases settle – but attorneys at Neale & Fhima are not afraid to argue aggressively in front of a judge and jury if needed.

Litigation begins when your attorney files a complaint with the court alleging that the manufacturer breached its warranty contract. The manufacturer will then file a responsive pleading and the court will set a trial date. During the months that follow, the parties may exchange case-related information (this is known as “discovery”), take depositions, and argue pretrial motions in front of the judge. Finally, the case will proceed to trial and a verdict will be rendered.

During litigation, the parties may exchange case-related information (this is known as “discovery”), take depositions, and argue pretrial motions in front of the judge. Finally, the case may proceed to trial and a verdict will be rendered, though this is rarely the case, in fact at Neale & Fhima, less than 1% of cases proceed to trial, the vast majority of lemon law cases settle. These are the steps in the lemon law claim process.

The parties in a lemon law case may still reach a settlement agreement at any time during the litigation proceedings. Going all the way to trial is rarely necessary. Nevertheless, we take an aggressive approach to every case we litigate at Neale & Fhima.

How Long Does a Lemon Law Claim Take?

If you’re asking how long does a lemon law claim take, the answer is — it varies. Unfortunately, there is no “average” amount of time. Each case is unique, and there are several factors involved, including the strength of your case, the willingness of the manufacturer to settle, and the aggressiveness of your lawyer.

You don’t have control over some of these factors, but you do have control over which lawyer you hire. Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases, and that’s a really good reason to hire one of our lawyers!

Find Out More About How to File a Lemon Law Claim

Continue reading to learn more about how to file a lemon law claim and exercise your rights under California’s lemon law:

Do You Have Questions About How to File a Lemon Law Claim? Contact Neale & Fhima Today

If you believe you have purchased or leased a lemon vehicle, contact us for a free phone or in-person consultation. We can explain how to file a lemon law claim. We represent claimants in the San Diego area, the Los Angeles area, the San Francisco Area, and statewide. Call (888) 568-5405 or send us a message online to request an appointment.