Lemon Law: 5 Things You Need to Know
Buying a new vehicle is thrilling, but that excitement can turn sour if you discover you’ve put your hard-earned money into an unreliable lemon. If you play by the rules, the chances are good that you can recover your investment and get that lemon out of your life.
Courtesy of the experts at Lemon Justice, here are five things you should know about Lemon Laws and how they can protect you:
1. Not All Vehicles are Covered
Every state in the U.S. has a Lemon Law, but the types of coverage they provide vary widely. Some Lemon Laws cover only cars, while others also cover motorcycles and RVs.
Every state covers new cars, but some also cover demonstrators or used cars that are purchased within the manufacturer’s original warranty period. Similarly, some states only cover personal vehicles, while other states’ Lemon Laws include business vehicles.
Before considering a Lemon Law claim, it’s important to know what your state’s laws cover. Lemon Justice (http://www.LemonJustice.com) has detailed information about every state’s Lemon Laws.
2. Lemons are Narrowly Defined
The definition of a Lemon changes from state to state. Most laws require that the defect is one that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a vehicle. In other words, while some persistent defects are annoying, they won’t necessarily qualify your vehicle as a lemon. Similarly, Lemon Laws require that you take the vehicle in for repair a specified number of times – although the number varies by state.
3. The Window of Opportunity is Small
State Lemon Laws usually specify that a substantive defect has to occur during a certain window of time – such as during the first two years of ownership or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever comes first.
Some also limit the window of opportunity for filing a Lemon Law claim. Again, it’s important to understand your state’s Lemon Laws and stay ahead of the curve if you’re going to successfully fight the manufacturer.
4. The Burden of Proof is on You
It’s up to you – or your attorney – to prove that your vehicle is a lemon. Whenever you purchase a vehicle, you should keep a logbook noting the dates and times you take the car in for repair. You should also keep all of your service orders and receipts. You also need to make sure to follow your state’s Lemon Law to the letter.
For example, some states require you to send the manufacturer a written notice sent by certified mail in order to preserve your Lemon Law rights. If you neglect to send the letter, you can’t use the Lemon Law to protect you.
5. An Attorney Always Helps
Car manufacturers adhere to the principle of “no lawyer, no money.” They are adept at playing a waiting game and making consumers jump through hoops until time runs out or the consumer gives up. After all, they have teams of lawyers dedicated to fighting each and every Lemon Law claim.
Attorney fees are usually part of any Lemon Law settlement or judgment, so you shouldn’t have to pay for legal representation. In addition, Lemon Law lawyers are experienced in navigating the waters, so they can more easily negotiate a buyback or a fair cash settlement for their clients.
Finally, Lemon Law attorneys understand that, even when a state’s Lemon Laws can’t be used, there are other state and federal laws that offer consumers protection, and that can be effectively used to get the compensation you deserve.
Category: Reader Questions