What is the California Lemon Law? What are my legal rights?
A: California has an amazing consumer protection law, called the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly referred to as the "Lemon Law." If your vehicle qualifies for recourse, we will force the manufacturer to take your vehicle back and recover your purchase money. Please note that the manufacturer will be entitled to certain credits deducted from your purchase money in conformity with California law.
How do I know if my vehicle qualifies under the Lemon Law?
A: Basically, so long as your vehicle has a manufacturing defect which substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, and it cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts by the manufacturer, then your vehicle may qualify for a repurchase. It applies to all new and many used vehicles, whether purchased or leased, for personal and most small business use.
Used vehicles are covered if the vehicle was purchased while the manufacturer's original new car warranty was still in effect. So if you were to buy a used vehicle at a dealership, and some of the remaining original manufacturer's warranty was still left at the time of sale, the vehicle may qualify if the repairs were made under that remaining warranty.
Vehicles must have been purchased in California, and from a licensed car dealership. If the vehicle was purchased from a private party, your vehicle cannot qualify for recourse under the lemon law. If you bought the vehicle in a state other than in CA, you may not bring a California lemon law case. There is a military exception to this rule. Please call us for details.
A consumer must allow the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts. A reasonable number is often interpreted as four or more repair attempts for the same or similar problem; or only two times if the problem is so severe that it is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death; or if the vehicle has been out of service, in the hands of an authorized dealer, for more than 30 days for any substantial problem. The thirty days do not have to run consecutively. If during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of ownership the above criteria is met, your vehicle is presumed to be a lemon which often makes for a very strong case.
The problem(s) with the vehicle must be considered a substantial impairment of the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. The substantial impairment qualification is of course subjective and subject to interpretation. Simple issues, while annoying, may not be enough to fulfill this requirement.
The repairs made to the vehicle must be made while under the original manufacturer's warranty, not under an extended warranty. So if the vehicle is outside of the original warranty at the time of the first repair the vehicle will not qualify. If, however, the repairs begin while under the original warranty, then continues under an extended warranty, it may still qualify.
The repairs made to the vehicle must be made by a dealership authorized by the manufacturer to make repairs on your vehicle. Repairs made by your local mechanic will not count towards lemon law repairs, and in fact may harm your case.
These are not absolute requirements for our office to file a demand for repurchase on your behalf. Some situations do not meet these guidelines but may still entitle you to lemon law protection.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to used vehicles?
A: Used vehicles do in fact qualify for protection under the California Lemon Law if it was purchased with an unused portion of the manufacturer's original, new car warranty remaining at the time of purchase. Certified Pre Owned vehicles, or CPOs, usually fall into this class. For example, if the vehicle was originally covered by the manufacturer's 36 months/36,000 miles warranty, then it must have been purchased as a used vehicle within 36 months of the time that the vehicle first went into service, and with fewer than 36,000 miles on the odometer at the time of purchase. Manufacturers' new car warranties differ and you should check the original owner's manual to determine the limits of your new car warranty. Note that an extended service contract is not the same as the manufacturer's new car warranty and does not change the requirement stated above.
I have an RV/Boat. Can I invoke the Lemon Law?
A: Yes you can. The Lemon Law applies to RVs, boats, motorhomes, trailers, 5th wheels, motorcycles, and other consumer goods.
I purchased my vehicle outside of California. Can I still invoke the Lemon Law?
A: In order to have the California Lemon Law apply to your vehicle, you must have purchased it in California. There is a military exception to this rule - please contact us for details.
I purchased my vehicle in California, but later moved out of state. Can I still invoke the Lemon Law?
A: If you did purchase the vehicle in CA, then moved out of state, you may still invoke the California lemon law.
Do the repairs to my vehicle have to be made within 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles?
A: Contrary to popular belief, the answer is no! If in fact the requisite number of repairs are made within 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles from the date of purchase, the vehicle is presumed to be a lemon. These are called "presumption cases," and in fact, most cases do not meet this standard. However, this does not mean you're outside of "Lemon Law" protection. So long as the defect substantially impairs the use, value or safety, and first occurred within the new car warranty period, and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the vehicle is entitled to these legal protections.
My dealership has told me that they will repurchase my vehicle under the Lemon Law. Why do I have to go any further?
A: Dealerships are in business to sell cars. They will frequently tell a consumer that they will "repurchase" your vehicle under the Lemon Law when this is merely a guise to "trade up" the consumer into a new car; they profit, you lose. Lemon laws create a relationship between the consumer and the manufacturer. The dealership has little to do with that relationship. Therefore the decision to repurchase a vehicle can only be made by the manufacturer, and not a dealership.
What am I entitled to recover?
A: If you qualify, we will be able to recover your down payment, (including registration fees, licensing fees, taxes, transportation costs, etc.), plus your total monthly lease or loan payments. The manufacturer will also pay off the balance of your loan or lease. The manufacturer will also pay all or most of your attorney's fees. However, the manufacturer is entitled to deduct from your settlement for mileage at the time of the first repair for the issue bringing rise to the claim, service/maintenance contracts, GAP insurance, negative equity, rebates, aftermarket items, and the like. Prior to bringing your case, we provide you with a realistic estimate as to what your actual recovery will likely be.
Am I entitled to recover for my lost time, aggravation, inconvenience, etc.?
A: Unfortunately, the Lemon Law does not allow for compensation for "non-economic" damages.
Do I need to first go through arbitration?
A: No, you do not need to first go through arbitration to make a "Lemon Law" claim. In fact, arbitration can be dangerous because if the decision is against you, that decision may later be used as evidence against you in any subsequent court action which you may file against the manufacturer.
The manufacturer has offered me a new car, but refuses to give me my money back. Can they do this?
A: No. A manufacturer cannot force you to take a new car instead of a refunding your money. We've won many cases for consumers who were given this ultimatum by manufacturers.
Do I need to file a claim with the manufacturer's consumer help line?
A: No, and in fact, we ask that you do not make contact with the manufacturer at all. Much of the information they provide you with will be misleading, and may cause them to refuse to pay your attorney's fees in the event your case moves forward.
Will my case go to trial?
A: The vast majority of cases we handle do not go to trial, nor do most even require litigation. In most cases, we do our utmost to enforce your legal rights without filing lawsuits. In the event a lawsuit is required, we have litigated hundreds of cases and are fully prepared to protect you against the manufacturer.
Why should I retain your firm to represent me?
A: Because attempting to resolve matters with manufacturers is a long and aggravating process, which usually will not result in a satisfactory resolution, you likely need an attorney who knows how to navigate the Lemon law. The manufacturer can prolong a settlement offer for many months, and then make only a minor settlement offer such as an offer to pay one or two months of your loan or lease payments, but without repurchasing your vehicle. Manufacturers know that eventually you will tire of pursuing the claim and then either walk away from it entirely or take the minimal amount being offered.
Our firm has 30 years of experience in dealing with nearly every kind of manufacturer of motor vehicles and have represented thousands of clients throughout the state of California. When we submit a demand on your behalf, the manufacturer is more likely to respect the legitimacy of your claim and our long experience in handling such matters.
How long does the Lemon Law process take?
A: The manufacturer is required to respond within 30 days to our formal legal demand. While every manufacturer works at a different pace, most cases are resolved, without litigation, within 90 days. If the case requires litigation, it will likely take longer.
Who is going to pay my attorney's fees?
A: In lemon law cases, manufacturers are required to pay attorneys fees on your behalf. Lemon law cases are handled on a "contingency" fee basis meaning if there is no recovery, there are no fees. If your case does not require litigation, and a settlement is reached, the manufacturer will pay all or most of your attorney's fees, depending on the manufacturer. If your case requires litigation, and is settled prior to trial (which most cases are), your attorney's fees will be paid by the manufacturer by mutual agreement between your attorney and the manufacturer. If an agreement cannot be reached concerning the fees, a judge may be asked to make a ruling concerning the fees. These fees are then paid to the attorney by the manufacturer. Should your attorney also be successful in obtaining penalties or other concessions from the manufacturer, which is sometimes possible, your attorney may charge you a percentage of these concessions.
What do I have to do?
A: Call 888 EX LEMON for a free consultation or submit our Lemon Law Case Review Form. You then mail, fax, or e-mail your repair orders for our analysis. Once we have reviewed and accepted your case, discussed it with you, and you have retained our firm, we do it all. We ask that you continue to make all of your monthly payments on the vehicle, and to always keep us informed of any additional repairs.
Is that all I have to do?
A: That is all you need to do. We will work diligently and aggressively with the manufacturer on your behalf during this entire process, keeping you posted on the progress of your case along the way.
Does your firm handle other kinds of cases?
A: We specialize in "Lemon Law" and related vehicular and consumer protection cases. We also handle serious personal injury cases due to auto accidents, trip and falls, dog bites, and other injury cases. We handle Lemon Law and injury cases for clients throughout the entire State of California. With most cases, you do not need to meet with us because once you fax, mail, or e-mail us, we do it all...without any inconvenience to you. We know how important open communication is with our clients, and we always promptly return phone calls.
Do you have Yelp reviews I can look at?
A: Yes, and we're very proud of them! We actually encourage you to look us up. If you type in Law Offices of Barry Edzant, you'll find nearly perfect five star reviews in all reviews.
How do I contact you?
A: Just submit our Lemon Law Case Review Form or call us at 888 EX LEMON (1-888-395-3666).
We will evaluate your case for free, tell you how much you may be entitled to get back.Fill out our form OR Call 1-888-395-3666