If you have a new or used car in California that has had far too many repair problems, you may qualify for relief under the California lemon law. But many people have misunderstandings about the lemon law that we would like to clear up here:
Myth #1 A Used Vehicle Does Not Qualify for Lemon Law Protection
Lemon laws exist in all states. In some states, only new vehicles can qualify for lemon law protection. But in California, used cars also can be deemed a lemon, and you may be eligible to obtain a buyback or refund.
Meeting the standard for a used car under the lemon law is different than with a new vehicle. The most important matter to determine is whether the car was sold to you ‘as is.’ If you checked that box when you bought a used car, it probably will not qualify for lemon law protection.
It is important to review the car’s buyer’s guide. If the car is covered by the factory warranty, a dealer warranty or any type of express warranty, the used car could be deemed a lemon just like a new one.
Your used car also could be covered under the lemon law under what is known as an ‘implied warranty of merchantability.’ This means there is a guarantee that the car is equipped to give you reliable, safe transportation for the entirety of the dealer warranty.
Myth #2 Getting a Buyback Under the Lemon Law Takes a Long Time
It is true that a lemon law case can take time. In some cases, the entire legal process and getting the car manufacturer to buy back the vehicle can take weeks or months.
But it largely depends on how aggressive your California lemon law lawyer is. Also, the timeline of getting your lemon law buyback depends on the strength of the case and the evidence you have against the auto manufacturer. There is no guarantee that the case will be settled in a certain period of time. But there are a few things you can do to get the case resolved faster:
- Keep all repair invoices.
- Keep a record of the entire time your car was in the dealer’s shop.
- Keep all receipts for the costs of having the lemon, such as car fares, hotels and towing expenses.
- Keep all loan documentation.
- Keep records of all the costs of ownership, including vehicle registration and sales tax.
If you win your case (and lemon law attorneys will not take cases they don’t think they can win), the auto manufacturer will be responsible to reimburse you for all costs.
Also, be sure to ask your attorney what the most important things are in handling a lemon law claim. If you don’t hear something about getting a fast buyback, you should find another attorney. A good lemon law attorney will put a high priority on getting bad vehicles off the road and being sure California consumers are getting justice.
Myth #3 Any Attorney Can Handle a Lemon Law Case
The idea that any attorney can handle the claim and get a buyback quickly is a major myth. If a lawyer says they can handle a claim but do not regularly handle lemon law cases, there is a good chance they just want to get your business and are not specialists in lemon law litigation.
Remember that auto companies have excellent attorneys that will fight your claim aggressively in almost all cases. You want to have an attorney who knows the state’s lemon law inside and out.
Also, consider avoiding national lemon law firms. Most of these big companies make their profits on the number of clients they bring in and are not as interested in getting you the most money possible. It is common for these law firms to try to get you to agree to a settlement in cash rather than getting a buyback. You want a full buyback. And if you are talking to a lot of paralegals at the firm, this is a red flag that you want to hire a different law firm.
Myth #4 I’ll Have to Pay a Lot to Have An Attorney Represent Me
This is not true. In California, the fee for your attorney is paid by the manufacturer if the car is bought back. In a buyback, the auto manufacturer must pay for your lawyer’s fees and also any payments that are owed to you. You seldom need to pay anything to be represented by a California lemon law attorney. Your attorney will know quickly whether your case is likely to be successful, so you are virtually certain to pay nothing.
Myth #5 I Won’t Get All of My Money Back If There Is a Buyback
Many consumers think they will not get their car payments and insurance payments back, but this is not the case. There is a formula under the law that does allow the auto manufacturer to deduct a mileage fee for the use of the car.
You will get paid back your car payments and insurance payments in most cases. But remember, you will not be compensated for aftermarket parts that you put on the car; you can,however, take the parts off before you give the car back to the manufacturer.
Myth #6 I Can Handle My Lemon Law Case Without An Attorney
This is usually a mistake. Auto manufacturers have strong, aggressive attorneys representing them. They will usually fight any lemon law claim made against the manufacturer. It is common for defense attorneys to argue that the defect should not qualify under the lemon law. Or, they will argue that you abused the vehicle and caused the problem yourself.
If you think you have a potential lemon vehicle, you should talk to the experienced lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima today. We can help you get the best result from your lemon law claim, whether that be a buyback or a refund.