If you’re wondering how to file a lemon law claim in California, 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.
You start by hiring the right lemon law attorney. At Neale & Fhima, our lawyers are among the best and the brightest. We have a 99% success rate with lemon law cases! You can learn more about our lawyers significant skills and years of experience by reading their attorney bios. You can also read the testimonials from our many satisfied clients. While there is no average lemon law settlement, our attorneys will fight hard to get the best settlement possible for you.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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. For example, the manufacturer may believe the consumer misused or modified the vehicle in a way that contributed to the defect. 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.
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 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.
The parties in a lemon law case may 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.
Fortunately, the California lemon law covers used cars as well as new and leased cars. But you must have one of three warranties to qualify. These include:
Ironically enough, one of the most time-consuming things about filing a used car lemon law claim is actually finding your warranty paperwork and determining whether your warranty qualifies. Remember that service contracts and “extended warranties” do not qualify for lemon law protection if you don’t also have one of the three warranties listed above. Once you determine that your warranty qualifies, then a used car lemon law case should take about the same amount of time to complete as a new car lemon law claim does.
A successful lemon law claim puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes time to select the form of compensation. Here are the two primary remedies:
Option A: Repurchase
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and issue you a refund of the purchase price (reduced by the value of your use of the vehicle prior to the first repair attempt). If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the payments and down-payment, and pay off the loan. You will also receive a refund of registration fees, taxes, etc.
Option B: Replacement
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and provide you with a new one. It must be an identical or substantially similar vehicle. The manufacturer will pay the registration and taxes on the new vehicle, but you will not receive a refund of fees or finance charges paid on the original vehicle. This option requires the consent of both parties.
In some circumstances, we may be able to negotiate an additional option called a “cash and keep.” This would allow you to retain possession of the vehicle and receive a cash payment to compensate for the defect.
Continue reading to learn more about how to file a lemon law claim and exercise your rights under California’s lemon law:
If you believe you have purchased or leased a lemon vehicle, contact Neale & Fhima for a free phone or in-person consultation. We can assess your individual situation and explain how to file a lemon law claim. We represent claimants in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and statewide. Our aggressive and experienced lemon law lawyers will not let you down! Call 888-407-2955 for a free consultation or send us a message online to request an appointment.