Santa Cruz Lemon Law

Santa Cruz Lemon Law

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Santa Cruz Lemon Law Attorneys

Knowledgeable Consumer Rights Lawyers Aggressively Pursuing Compensation on Behalf of Vehicle Owners from Manufacturers

One of the benefits of buying a new vehicle is that you won’t have to worry about dealing with frequent trips to the mechanic. However, if you were unfortunate enough to have purchased a Lemon, this isn’t the case. Not only will this take time out of your already busy schedule, but it also means you are not receiving what you paid for. If this situation sounds familiar to you, you may be eligible for compensation through a Santa Cruz Lemon Law claim

At Wirtz Law APC, our dedicated lemon Law lawyers have extensive hands-on experience connecting vehicle owners with the compensation they need to make themselves whole after unknowingly purchasing a Lemon. We are experienced negotiators who resolve a majority of our client’s cases without the need for a trial. However, because we handle so many Lemon Law claims throughout California- including Santa Cruz, we have tried more cases to a jury in a year than many lawyers will in their lifetime. 

When Can You Bring a Lemon Law Claim in Santa Cruz, CA?

In the state of California, consumers who purchase or lease new or some used vehicles are protected by what is known as the “Lemon Law.” This law, officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is designed to provide relief for consumers who find themselves with a vehicle (a “Lemon”) that has significant defects that cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. 

So, when can a resident of Santa Cruz, California, bring forth a Lemon Law claim? Read on to learn more. 

Defective Vehicle

At the core of the Lemon Law is the concept of a defect or malfunction that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a vehicle. This can include anything from major mechanical issues to chronic problems with the car’s electronic systems.

Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts

Before a claim can be initiated, the manufacturer or its authorized repair facility must be given a reasonable number of attempts to fix the issue. Typically, this is interpreted as:

  • Two or more attempts
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days (consecutively or cumulatively) for warranty repairs.

An experienced Santa Cruz Lemon Law attorney at Wirts Law APC can help you determine your eligibility. 

Vehicle Age

As long as the defect or defects first arose during a manufacturer’s warranty period and wasn’t fixed, the age of the vehicle doesn’t matter. However, filing a claim under the lemon law must occur within 4 years of the end of that warranty. Problems that first arise outside of this period are likely not covered, but it is always best to consult with an experienced lemon law attorney to make sure.  

Opportunity to Repair

Other than giving the automaker an opportunity to repair the defect or defects in your vehicle, there is no requirement to give formal notification to the automaker to have a lemon law claim.

Used Vehicles

Although the Lemon Law is commonly associated with new cars, it also applies to used cars that are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty that was part of a certified pre-owned vehicle sale. Therefore, if you purchase a used vehicle in Santa Cruz that still has its original warranty and you encounter persistent defects, you might be eligible for relief under the Lemon Law.

Leased Vehicles

The law also covers leased vehicles. If you’ve leased a new or used car in Santa Cruz and it turns out to be a lemon, you have similar rights as if you had purchased the vehicle.

Converted Lemons

It’s also worth noting that California’s Lemon Law has provisions against “lemon laundering.” This means that if a manufacturer buys back a lemon vehicle and then resells it, they must provide a one-year factory warranty covering the defect, and the car’s title must clearly label the vehicle as a “Lemon Law Buyback.”

Prompt Action

While the specifics of each case can vary, it’s generally recommended that you take action as soon as possible when faced with a potential lemon vehicle. There’s a statute of limitations that requires that any lawsuit under the Lemon Law be filed within four years of the date when the failure to repair the defect was discovered.

The Lemon Law in California is designed to protect consumers in Santa Cruz and throughout the state from the frustration and financial burden of ending up with a defective vehicle. Recognizing the signs of a potential lemon and understanding the parameters of the law can empower consumers to take action and seek the remedy they deserve.

However, if you believe you have a valid Lemon Law claim in Santa Cruz or anywhere in California, it’s advisable to consult with a Lemon Law lawyer at Wirtz Law APC. We can provide you with guidance tailored to your situation, and because we take Santa Cruz Lemon Law cases on a contingency basis, we only get paid only if you win your claim.

What Damages Are Available Through a Santa Cruz Lemon Law Claim?

If you’ve found yourself with a Lemon in California, you may be entitled to various remedies under the state’s Lemon Law. Below is a list of potential damages you might be able to recover. Keep in mind, however, that every case is unique, and the available damages depend highly on the specifics of your case.

Buyback or Repurchase

  • A repurchase is when the manufacturer refunds the actual price you paid for the vehicle, essentially buying it back from you. 
  • This includes the down payment, monthly payments, and any trade-in equity value.
  • The automaker gets an offset for any “good’ miles driven before the defect happened.

Vehicle Replacement

  • At your election, the manufacturer may be required to replace the vehicle with a new, similar vehicle.
  • The new vehicle should be substantially identical to the vehicle replaced.
  • Vehicle replacement is a common Lemon Law remedy, although consumers are free to reject a replacement and demand a buyback. 

Incidental Damages:

  • Incidental damages include any costs directly caused by the defect or repair process.
  • Examples include car rental fees, towing, and repair costs not covered by the warranty.

Finance Charges

  • If the vehicle was financed, you can recover the finance charges they paid up until the point of repurchase or replacement.

Sales Tax

  • Successful vehicle owners may be entitled to recover the sales tax paid on the original purchase.

Registration Fees

  • You may recover the cost of any licensing or registration fees paid.

Attorney’s Fees

  • If the claim is successful, the manufacturer may have to pay the consumer’s attorney fees.

Civil Penalties

  • In cases where it can be proven that the manufacturer willfully violated the law, the consumer may be awarded a civil penalty. This can be up to two times the actual damages.

Reduction for Use

  • If there’s a buyback, the manufacturer is allowed a credit for the use the consumer got out of the vehicle before the first repair attempt. This is calculated using a formula based on mileage.

Loan Balance

  • If there’s an outstanding loan on the vehicle, the manufacturer must pay off the balance of the loan as part of the buyback.

Which Vehicle Manufacturers Have Produced the Most Lemons? 

The data on which manufacturers faced the most Lemon Law claims varies by year. In general, factors such as the number of vehicles sold, the specific models introduced in a given year, and the effectiveness of a manufacturer’s quality control can all influence the frequency of Lemon Law claims.

That said, larger automakers that sell more vehicles typically have more Lemon Law claims simply because of the sheer volume of vehicles they produce. It’s important to note that a higher number of claims does not necessarily mean a manufacturer produces lower-quality vehicles; rather, it could simply be a function of the larger number of vehicles they have on the road.

Historically, here are some manufacturers that have faced a significant number of Lemon Law claims:

General Motors (GM): Being one of the largest auto manufacturers, GM has faced Lemon Law claims for various models over the years.

Ford: As another one of the “Big Three” American auto manufacturers, Ford has also seen its share of claims.

Fiat Chrysler / Stellantis: Brands like Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler have faced many Lemon Law claims in the past.

Nissan: There have been periods where Nissan faced a higher than average number of Lemon Law claims for certain models.

BMW: The luxury automaker has faced claims for various models, though, on the whole, BMW maintains a fairly strong reputation for quality.

Volkswagen: There have been instances where certain Volkswagen models faced Lemon Law claims.

Tesla: As a newer and rapidly growing car company, Tesla has faced criticism and subsequent Lemon Law claims for various issues over the years, although the company has also been lauded for many of its innovations.

Again, this list should be taken in context and doesn’t necessarily mean the listed manufacturers produce lower-quality vehicles. For example, while a single manufacturer might face a spike in claims due to a specific model year or design flaw, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the overall quality or reliability of the brand as a whole.

Finding the Best Santa Cruz Lemon Law Attorney for Your Case

Finding the best Santa Cruz Lemon Law attorney requires a mix of research, diligence, and an understanding of your unique needs. Here’s a brief guide to steer you in the right direction:

Word of Mouth & Recommendations – Begin with personal referrals. If someone you know had a Lemon Law issue and was satisfied with their attorney, this could be a good starting point. If you don’t know anyone who has successfully filed a Lemon Law claim in Santa Cruz, heading online to check out reviews is a good option. 

The Local Bar Association – The Santa Cruz County Bar Association can be a valuable resource for anyone looking to find an attorney to handle their Lemon Law claim. Bar Associations often have directories of lawyers practicing in the area, and some even offer referral services.

Online Reviews – Websites like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and even Google can provide reviews and ratings for attorneys. While these shouldn’t be the sole basis for your decision, they can give you an insight into others’ experiences.

Experience Matters – Ensure the attorney specializes in Lemon Law and has a history of handling such cases. A specialized attorney will have the requisite knowledge of nuances in the law and experience with auto manufacturers and dealerships.

Consultation – Once you’ve shortlisted a few names, arrange for consultations. This will give you a feel for the attorney’s approach, professionalism, and compatibility with your needs.

Fee Structure – Understand how the attorney charges. Many Lemon Law attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win. This enables you to initiate a case with no upfront fee. It also encourages Lemon Law attorneys to take cases that they think have merit. 

Trust Your Gut – Lastly, while credentials and experience are essential, you should also feel comfortable and trust your attorney. Your relationship will be crucial throughout the claim process.

If you’re looking for a good place to start when interviewing Lemon Law lawyers, give Wirtz Law APC a call to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of combined experience resolving Lemon Law claims through negotiation and, whenever necessary, litigation.

Is Your Recently Purchased Vehicle in the Shop More Than It’s on the Road?

If you recently purchased a new vehicle, or a used vehicle that was still under the manufacturer’s original warranty, the dedicated Santa Cruz Lemon Law lawyers at Wirtz Law APC, are here to help. At Wirtz Law APC, we specialize in handling lemon law cases on behalf of vehicle owners. Over the years, we’ve handled countless cases, connecting our clients with over $45 million in compensation. With our comprehensive and dedicated approach to handling these cases, we’ve secured compensation on over 97 percent of the Lemon Law cases we’ve handled. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Santa Cruz Lemon Law attorney today, give us a call at 858-259-5009. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.

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