Have you bought a new or used vehicle, with the original manufacturer’s warranty, that is defective? You could be eligible to file a lemon law lawsuit in your state. As an American consumer, you have certain rights, and one of them is the right to take legal action if a vehicle does not perform as it is supposed to while under the original manufacturer’s warranty.
While it is possible to handle your own lemon law case, most people find that a qualified lemon law attorney can maximize the compensation they receive in their case. This article describes what a lemon law is, what compensation you are eligible to receive, and how your attorney can get you the most money for your claim.
Lemon Law Overview
All U.S. states have lemon laws. While they differ in some respects, they all share similarities. Generally, lemon laws are designed for people who have new or recently used cars, trucks and SUVs that do not meet quality standards. Most lemon laws state that a vehicle still under factory warranty is a lemon after a ‘reasonable’ number of attempts to repair the vehicle.
The defects that are eligible for coverage must substantially affect the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Some defects will qualify for coverage and some will not. Some defects, such as brakes that do not work, clearly affect safety and are covered by lemon laws. Others, such as air conditioning that does not cool enough, may not be serious enough to warrant coverage. But there are some defects that impair value and not safety that ARE covered. One good example is a defective paint job: This can have a serious effect on the value of the vehicle when you try to sell it.
Lemon laws for different states commonly have a presumption that a vehicle that has had two or more repair attempts for the same defect that could cause serious bodily injury or death in the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, is a lemon vehicle. However, it is important to note that this is a presumption only; the manufacturer could argue that the vehicle is a lemon ONLY if it meets this definition, but most state laws do not explicitly require this. If you can prove to a jury or an arbitrator that any number of ‘reasonable’ attempts were made and that the defect affects value, use or safety, it could still be a valid claim. These types of cases usually need to be evaluated by a lemon law attorney.
How A Lemon Law Attorney Gets You More Money
Lemon law attorneys handle these cases every day and are accustomed to negotiating with car dealerships and car manufacturers. They know how to engage with these large entities that have their own corporate attorneys whose job it is to deny or minimize your lemon law claim. Here are some of the ways that a lemon law attorney can get you a better settlement:
- Attorneys act fast. Lemon laws are relevant only to vehicles that are still under factory warranty. If the warranty expires on your new or used lemon vehicle, it will be more difficult for you to get compensation, such as a replacement vehicle or buy back. But your attorney may be able to argue that the problem with the vehicle started while it was still under warranty (as long as you have enough documentation of the defect from your trips to the dealership). Attorneys in this area of the law focus only on lemon law claims and have seen just about everything before. An attorney can get your case handled quickly while there is still time.
- Attorneys know what paperwork is necessary. Most legal cases in all areas depend upon paperwork and evidence to be successful. One of the most important parts of getting the most money for your claim is having all of the necessary documentation. You should keep accurate and complete paperwork that details all of the repair work you have had on your defective vehicle. These documents should include the work orders for every trip to the repair shop, as well as an accurate description of the defect and who handled the vehicle while it was on the lot. If you have done your part with documenting the case, your attorney will be able to assemble the evidence to make a convincing case to the dealer or manufacturer.
- Attorneys know which vehicles are eligible. If your vehicle is still under the factory warranty whether it is new or used, you may be eligible for a lemon law claim. Also, your attorney understands how a jury will look at your case; generally speaking, you will need to have allowed at least two or more attempts to fix a warranty problem that could lead to death or serious injury. Further, the manufacturer may need to make at least four attempts to fix the same warranty problem. Attorneys also understand which defects may qualify for lemon law coverage and which will not. Any issue with your vehicle, for example, cannot be because of abuse by the owner.
- Attorneys know that manufacturers usually prefer to buy back the vehicle. Most state laws allow you to get either a new vehicle or to buy it back, less mileage. Auto manufacturers usually prefer to buy back the vehicle because they are out less money than when they replace it. Your attorney will know this, and he will be able to effectively negotiate with the manufacturer to get you the best result, including a possible replacement vehicle.
If you want to pursue a lemon law claim, the best way to ensure maximum compensation is to hire a skilled lemon law attorney in your state. The time investment in these claims is substantial, and lemon laws in most states are complex and confusing for non-attorneys to understand. Attorneys in this field know how to get the most compensation for you. If you have a potential lemon law case, talk to an attorney in your area for a complimentary consultation.