Getting Started on Your Lemon Law Claim
California offers consumer protections for vehicles considered “lemons” — cars with remaining warranty coverage that have a serious manufacturer defect or defects.
The vehicle must be unable to be fixed within a reasonable number of repair attempts. If your car has an irreparable flaw or defect, then you may be entitled to a refund or replacement.
However, getting that refund isn’t as simple as taking the receipt back to the dealership and asking for a new car. There are a few steps you need to take to prove your claim. Hiring a lawyer with experience pursuing California lemon law claims can exponentially increase your chances of success.
Fix Your Car
You can’t just declare the car a lemon and ask for a refund; take your car to the dealership and document every repair. To qualify as a lemon, the car has to be taken to an authorized repair facility dealership for repairs.
The dealership must be given a “reasonable number” of times to fix the problem, which can be as few as two times. If you take your car to an unauthorized dealership, you could void your warranty.
For the lemon law to apply, your car has to be under the factory warranty or a certified pre-owned vehicle.
The dealership repair orders are part of the documentation you will need for your lemon law case. These documents list the specific area of concern. In particular, take note anytime you have to make a repeat visit for the same issue.
Gather All of Your Documentation
After you’ve given the dealership a reasonable number of attempts to fix the problem — which can be only two, although there’s not a hard-and-fast rule — then you can seek compensation under the lemon law. You’ll need a copy of the purchase or lease agreement and copies of all of the dealership repair orders.
California lemon laws cover repairs made while the car was under warranty. If the warranty expires, but all of the repairs were made while still active, you can still pursue your case.
Do I need a Lemon Lawyer?
Yes! Hiring an attorney to represent your interests helps your case. The laws regarding “lemons” can be complex, and having someone handle your case helps you.
There is no doubt that the manufacturer will have an entire legal defense team, so having your own representation puts you on an even playing field.
Your lawyer can also ensure that you have the correct documentation and work through the settlement process with you. They’ll file a formal complaint in court, and then the manufacturer will respond to that complaint.
If the manufacturer deems the complaint valid, they’ll probably make a settlement offer. Your lawyer will handle the negotiations for you. Other damages in the settlement, besides the car itself, can include reimbursement for costs incurred to fix the vehicle, such as a tow truck, rental cars, and any out-of-pocket repair costs.
Will I go to Trial for my Lemon Lawsuit?
Arbitration isn’t required in California, but you may end up in court if you and the manufacturer can’t agree to settlement terms. They may deny your claim, in which case you’ll have to prove your case in court. Or, the manufacturer may “low-ball” your offer, not offering enough to replace the vehicle or not covering associated costs fully.
It’s usually in the best interests of both parties to settle out of court since it typically costs less and is a quicker resolution. However, every case is different, so trust your lawyer’s judgment.
Have you Purchased a Lemon?
If you’ve been trying to have repair work completed, and your car still isn’t fixed, you may be covered under lemon laws. For more information, call the experienced trial attorneys at (858) 259-5009 for a free case evaluation.
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