Navigating the Lemon Law process can be intimidating, but an experienced lawyer can help. A lemon law attorney can assist with collecting evidence, communicating with the manufacturer and dealership, and even filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
Most states require that you participate in arbitration before bringing your case to court. During this process, a panel of arbitrators will analyze the evidence and decide compensation.
Report the Defect
If you believe that your new vehicle may be a lemon, it is essential to notify the manufacturer. You should contact the manufacturer using the contact information provided in your owner’s manual or warranty booklet. Keep a copy of this correspondence for possible inclusion in your arbitration hearing.
State and federal lemon laws (repurchase or replacement laws) require manufacturers to repurchase or replace vehicles and other consumer products that do not meet their purported quality or usefulness. The law defines a “lemon” as a vehicle with a substantial defect that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
A qualified lemon lawyer can review your case to determine if you have a valid claim. If you are found to have a legitimate lemon, the attorney can help you negotiate with the manufacturer for a cash settlement or a new replacement vehicle. The attorney can also ensure that all documentation required for filing an arbitration claim is completed correctly.
Many consumers must submit their claims to the manufacturer’s informal dispute resolution program or Better Business Bureau before consulting an attorney. These programs may limit your rights or result in a less desirable outcome than you could receive through a lemon law lawsuit with the assistance of a lawyer.
The lemon law does not require consumers to submit to arbitration. However, if you submit your case to arbitration, getting the justice you deserve will be significantly more challenging. Many manufacturers include a mandatory arbitration clause in their contracts that forgoes your right to sue the manufacturer directly.
Even if your contract does not contain such a clause, having an experienced Texas lemon law attorney in your corner is smart.
Once your lemon law arbitration claim is accepted, the Attorney General’s office will review it to ensure it meets the requirements for proceeding with a case. Then, the Administrator will request your filing fee and schedule a hearing within 35 days. During the hearing, you can present evidence and question witnesses, including the dealer and the manufacturer’s representative.
If you can demonstrate that your car meets the number of repairs and days out of service required by the lemon law, the arbitrator’s decision will bind both parties. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you can challenge it with an appeal of the decision.
Negotiate with the Manufacturer
In most states, lemon laws allow car buyers to pursue compensation from the manufacturer for defective vehicles. These protections are based on express and implied warranties and typically require manufacturers to repair or replace a defective product within a certain period after a purchase.
These warranties and the related state and federal laws are designed to reduce the number of faulty goods sold to consumers, so it is essential to understand your rights and how they work.
The first step is to notify the manufacturer of the defect and provide them with a reasonable number of repair attempts. For most new or CPO cars, this is three or more attempts over the course of a limited warranty period. A single repair attempt may be sufficient for other consumer products like home appliances.
The next step is negotiating with the manufacturer. The key is to be polite but firm and communicate that you want the problem resolved immediately. It’s also helpful to have an attorney in your corner. With the proper legal representation, the manufacturer is more willing to compromise and offer you a suitable settlement than expected. Your lawyer can file an arbitration claim if you have trouble resolving with the manufacturer.
File a Lawsuit
As the process varies by state, consulting with a lemon law attorney for advice about your case is best. Depending on your situation, you may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer instead of going through arbitration or a state-run program.
Once a lawyer has reviewed your documentation and determines that you have a valid lemon law claim, they can help you through the legal process of obtaining a refund or replacement vehicle. The settlement money can sometimes cover additional expenses, such as rental car and towing costs. If you are a current leaseholder, the settlement funds can be used to cancel your remaining lease payments.
Your lawyer will need all the relevant documentation for your lemon law case during the legal proceedings. This includes all repair orders and invoices. If you have racked up any other expenses associated with the vehicle, such as cab fares, hotel bills, or towing charges, make sure you save copies of these.
Throughout the legal proceedings, your attorney will likely ask for depositions from witnesses and parties and interrogatories. These questions are asked under oath and can be used as evidence in court. They may also request documents like warranty information, internal memos, and phone records.