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Getting an Attorney's Help: Lemon Law Claims

Purchasing a new vehicle that needs what seems like endless repairs is not typical. If you have recently bought a car under warranty with a defect that hasn't been resolved despite repeated repair attempts, you may have bought a lemon. This is something an attorney can help you determine.

Consumer protection and lemon laws protect you from defective products, including motor vehicles, and fraudulent selling practices. Still, just because your new car has mechanical issues doesn't mean it's a lemon.

Pursuing a lemon law claim is a complicated process with several steps. Depending on your situation, working with a lemon law attorney may better your changes of getting a replacement vehicle or a refund from the manufacturer or dealership.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Lemon Law Case?

While you may be able to handle a lemon law claim on your own, having legal representation can be beneficial. A lawyer can help you understand the full extent of compensation you may be entitled to, including refunds, replacement vehicles, or other remedies available under lemon laws.

Lemon laws vary by state, and a local attorney with expertise in your jurisdiction's laws and familiarity with local dealerships can guide you through this overwhelming process.

Besides state laws, there is also a federal law that protects consumers from defective products. Known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, this law covers products under warranty. A consumer protection attorney with knowledge of both your state's lemon law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can be critical if you need to pursue legal action.

An attorney can be even more helpful if you have mechanical issues with a recent motorcycle, motor home, or used vehicle purchase. Some lemon laws extend to cover these vehicles, but the conditions may be different. Most lemon laws serve to protect new motor vehicle purchases. However, some states' lemon laws cover used cars with time remaining on their manufacturer's warranty.

You may have a better chance at reaching a resolution with the car dealer and a full refund with an attorney on your side.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you choose to work with an attorney for your lemon law claim, they will do more than offer legal advice. They will provide a comprehensive case review to determine if legal action based on a lemon law violation or auto dealer fraud is the next best step.

The first thing your attorney will do is determine if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. This varies by state but can depend on the mileage on your odometer, the length of time since the vehicle purchase, and the amount of repair attempts.

If your vehicle meets the criteria for a lemon, your attorney will do several things to protect your interests. Some of these actions include:

  • Gather facts and evidence regarding your vehicle, the dealership, and vehicle malfunctions
  • Analyze repair orders and records
  • Review service contracts and extended warranties
  • Interview witnesses
  • Evaluate all aspects of your vehicle purchase
  • Identify your options and explain what you can expect
  • Negotiate with car dealerships, manufacturers, and opposing counsel

This is all done with the goal of protecting your consumer rights and ensuring the most favorable outcome for your defective vehicle claim.

Your attorney will work to seek a resolution from the dealership or manufacturer. Remedies and compensation for lemon law claims can include:

  • Vehicle repurchase or a “buyback" from the authorized dealer
  • A full refund for the value of the vehicle, including including taxes, registration fees, and other charges
  • A replacement vehicle
  • Additional financial damages like towing, rental car, and other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Attorney fees and legal costs

Some lemon law attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case.

How To Prepare for Working With a Lemon Law Attorney

It is always a good idea for new car buyers to keep thorough records of vehicle issues and repairs. Good documentation is crucial for most lemon law cases, and having records ready to go can make this process easier.

Your attorney will require specific information and documents from you. Be prepared to provide this information for your vehicle:

  • Manufacturer's warranty with vehicle warranty period
  • Any extended warranties or service contracts
  • Purchase details such as purchase price, purchase agreement, purchase date, and any financing charges
  • Dealership contact information
  • Record of the number of repair attempts, along with any repair shop invoices and receipts
  • Documentation of communication with the manufacturer and dealership regarding vehicle issues
  • Odometer reading (current mileage)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

Depending on the specifics of your claim, your attorney may need additional information.

Types of Legal Resolution for Lemon Law Claims

It's possible the dealership or manufacturer will be uncooperative or unwilling to provide a remedy for your lemon. If so, your lawyer may recommend pursuing legal action.

The two most common legal actions for a lemon are:

ArbitrationArbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Some states require this before you can pursue a formal lawsuit. During arbitration, parties attempt to come to a resolution outside of court. A neutral third-party arbitrator, often a legal expert in their field, reviews the evidence and makes a decision.

Arbitration programs are less formal than litigation and often faster and less expensive.

Filing a Lawsuit: If arbitration is unsuccessful, your lawyer may suggest formal litigation in the form of a lawsuit against the manufacturer or dealership. Going to court is a longer procedure than arbitration which can last years and incur greater legal costs.

In some cases, your lemon may be eligible for a class-action lawsuit. Class-action lawsuits allow groups of consumers with similar issues to collectively seek compensation. If you are one of many consumers who purchased vehicles of the same make and model with similar defects, your attorney may suggest this legal process instead.

Regardless of the legal route you pursue, your attorney will seek remedies including repurchase, vehicle replacement, or other compensation.

Finding a Lemon Law or Auto Dealer Fraud Attorney

If you've purchased a defective vehicle, you may have lemon law rights. An experienced Lemon Law or Auto Dealer Fraud attorney in your area can determine if your vehicle is a lemon and review possible remedies.

If you decide to work together, they can help gather evidence, negotiate with the dealership, and even represent your interests in litigation. Getting legal help is your best shot at getting full compensation and the best outcome for your lemon law claim.

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Contact a qualified consumer attorney to assist in your lemon law or dealer fraud matter.

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