Lemon law attorneys specialize in breach of warranty claims and protecting their clients when an automotive manufacturer fails to uphold their end of their written warranty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates American car consumers purchase roughly 150,000 defective vehicles each year. These “lemon” vehicles arrive at dealerships containing repeating, unfixable problems caused during the manufacturing process and can cost consumers thousands in unforeseen costs. These costs can come in the form of loss of work from not being able to drive, alternative transportation costs, repair costs, towing fees and the other hard-to-predict costs that come up when a vehicle breaks down.
Every major carmaker in the world builds lemons inadvertently, including General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and many more. Lemons can arise from any number of causes including substandard materials, computer errors in manufacturing or simple human mistakes. No matter the cause the result is the same: a problem the manufacturer is legally required to remedy. Problems that can make a vehicle considered a lemon can range from a comparatively minor paint issue or errant smell to a dangerous engine problem or safety system malfunction. When manufacturers fail to live up to their end of the bargain, lemon laws force their hand and lemon law attorneys know how to make it happen.
Auto manufacturers issue written warranties with these new vehicles, assuring the consumer that the vehicle will work as intended and if it doesn’t, they will make it right – within a certain timeframe. Past the warranty’s term of protection, the consumer is on their own.
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Of course, consumers don’t have to take on manufacturers by themselves. Hiring a lemon law attorney is the single best step a consumer can take to ensure the success of their lemon law claim. Attorney Allen Stewart said a consumer with an attorney in their corner has an advocate throughout the lemon law claims process. They have someone working for them who looks out for their best interest and who knows how laws and processes affect the consumer and their claim.
“A consumer with a lawyer has someone who knows when they’re being bamboozled,” Stewart said. “Someone who knows when what that company just said isn’t the law, or the truth, or equitable. The consumer with the lawyer has an advocate that has seen many other people in like circumstances and knows what the appropriate standard of care and compensation should be.”
Consumers do not “hire” a lemon law attorney as you might think. Lemon laws require manufacturers to pay attorney’s fees when they prevail in court, so a lemon law attorney doesn’t require payment up front. The arrangement benefits both you and the attorney: the attorney reviews the facts of your potential claim and decides whether they believe they can ensure you a favorable outcome. A qualified lemon law lawyer will know whether they can help you with your claim, or who they could refer you to if they cannot.
Any lemon law attorney that asks for payment up front is not one you should trust with your claim. However, a competent, trustworthy attorney will ensure the best possible outcome for it. Representing one’s self in a court of law rarely ends well, according to Stewart. He says the likelihood of success in those cases is remote at best.
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“I have never seen the circumstance of a self-represented plaintiff show up in front of the judge and at the end of the proceeding the judge not tell them ‘sir or ma’am, the best thing for your case is you getting a lawyer,’” he said. “Even the simplest things in the law can be complicated because if you miss the timeline, you could lose it all,” Stewart said. “If you file the wrong paperwork, it could set you back time and money, and you might lose the case.”
Andrew Ross, a lemon law attorney with Allen Stewart P.C., said attorneys know best how to deal with each manufacturer’s peculiarities, pace and methods, particularly how they approach lemon law claims. Someone representing themselves would lack not only that knowledge, but also knowledge on the vagaries of lemon law including requirements and deadlines.
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“If you’re missing some of those things, or if you don’t follow certain rules, your claim can be completely tossed out,” Ross said. “You run the risk of having your case thrown out or getting a judgement that prevents you from trying to present your case again.”
When seeking a lemon law attorney, do your research. A firm’s website is a good starting point to learn more about them, what they do, whether they practice lemon law and how successful they are at it. A successful lemon law firm will likely have a page full of testimonials and victories showing positive outcomes for their clients. Another way to learn more about a firm is via reviews. Google Reviews, Martindale, and Avvo are but a few sites on which you can find reviews for firms from past clients, both positive and negative.
Lemon laws attorney are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.
Once you reach out to a lemon law attorney, they or a paralegal working at their firm will ask you several questions about your vehicle. They will ask about its year model, make, where you bought it and when. They’ll ask you from what state you are calling, as each state has its own lemon law which can affect your case. They’ll ask you about the problems you’re having with the vehicle and how many times you’ve tried to get it repaired; most law firms require a certain number of unsuccessful repair attempts (or total days in the shop for repairs) before they will agree to help pursue your claim.
Once they’ve decided they can represent you, they will ask for all appropriate documentation as well as official records of all the repair attempts made on your vehicle. These documents will establish the foundation of your claim and as such the more details you can provide, the more solid your claim will be.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 is the primary tool with which the lemon law attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. use to pursue claims. The federal law cuts across state lines and provides equal protection to consumers across America. The Act requires companies to provide warranty information up front in easily understood language, letting consumers make decisions and shop around based on warranty coverage.
The lemon law lawyers of Allen Stewart P.C. have decades of experience pursuing lemon law claims on behalf of their clients. They have a proven record of fighting automotive manufacturers and getting positive outcomes for their clients. If your vehicle’s manufacturer doesn’t hold up their end of the warranty, the lemon law experts at Allen Stewart P.C. make sure you get the compensation you deserve. The longer you wait the harder your claim gets; contact Allen Stewart P.C. today.