Understanding Indiana Lemon Law
The Indiana lemon law covers any consumer who enters into an agreement or contract in Indiana for the transfer, lease, or purchase of a motor vehicle.
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The law covers vehicles weighing less than 5 tons that are sold and registered to an Indiana consumer. The law also protects consumers who don’t live in Indiana but buy a vehicle in the state. The vehicle must be intended primarily for operation on public highways, and registered or licensed before use or operation.
The Indiana lemon law covers used vehicles. It does not, however, cover conversion vans, motor homes, farm tractors, road building equipment, semi-trucks, road tractors, motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles or vehicles designed primarily for off-road use.
The lemon law covers “nonconformities,” defined as any specific defect or condition or combination thereof that substantially impairs the use, market value or safety of the vehicle. The defect and condition must also render the vehicle nonconforming to the warranty.
Indiana’s lemon law does not, however, cover minor issues that don’t substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. For example, a slight rattle or problem with the radio isn’t a nonconformity.
Problems caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration are also not covered by the Indiana lemon law.
The Indiana lemon law compels manufacturers to repurchase or replace a vehicle if they are unable to “correct a nonconformity after a reasonable number of attempts.” The lemon law defines that as four or more times for the same problem without success, or if the vehicle is in the shop for 30 days or more without successfully repairing the problem.
The consumer must notify the manufacturer in writing of a lemon law claim if the manufacturer has clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the warranty or owner’s manual that such notice is required.
If the consumer notifies the manufacturer or their authorized agent of a nonconformity within 18 months or 18,000 miles after the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer, the manufacturer must repair the issue. The manufacturer must repair the nonconformity even if the repairs are made after the expiration of the aforementioned term of protection.
The manufacturer must replace or repurchase the nonconforming vehicle if they are unable fix the problem after a reasonable number of attempts. The consumer chooses whether they want the vehicle repurchased or replaced.
When replacing a vehicle, a manufacturer must provide a replacement vehicle of comparable value. The manufacturer must also reimburse the consumer for fees and sales taxes, as well as necessary towing and rental costs incurred as a direct result of the nonconformity.
Manufacturers repurchasing a nonconformity vehicle must pay the total contract price of the vehicle, including all credits and allowances for any trade-in vehicle. They must pay all sales taxes and fees, expended finance charges, the cost of all options added by the dealer and costs related to towing. The manufacturer can withhold a reasonable allowance for use, calculated based on the amount of miles traveled prior to the manufacturer’s acceptance of the returned vehicle.
The Indiana lemon law states its protections don’t apply to a consumer who hasn’t first resorted to the manufacturer’s established informal dispute settlement procedure, i.e. arbitration. The arbitration mechanism must be certified by the Indiana Attorney General. The manufacturer must also have provided adequate written notice of the mechanism’s existence, including its incorporation into the terms of the warranty.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
The manufacturer must abide by the decision of the arbitrator, while the consumer does not. If dissatisfied with the outcome, a consumer can bring civil action in court. By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Indiana consumers can hire lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. This is because the federal Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemonlawusa.org encourages vehicle owners with a lemon to hire a lemon law attorney. You can bet the car manufacturers have legal counsel at the ready to help defend against lemon law claims both in arbitration and in court.
Some car consumers stricken with a defective vehicle can use the lemon law in Indiana. However, other consumers may need the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to get a fair solution.
Indiana’s lemon law covers consumers who file a complaint within two years after they report a problem to the manufacturer or dealer. For example, if a consumer in the state buys a new warrantied vehicle and it develops a problem six months later, that consumer must notify the manufacturer or dealer and then file a complaint with the state within two years. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law superseding the state law, borrows its statute of limitations from the state the claim originates in. Magnuson-Moss claims originating from Indiana have a statute of limitations of four years.
There is no specific used car lemon law in Indiana as the state’s law also covers used vehicles. The consumer is covered regardless if they are the vehicle’s first owner, as long as the vehicle’s warranty is still in effect.
Both the state law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allow consumers to recover attorneys’ fees in their judgement if they prevail in court. Lemon law attorneys take cases knowing they will either recover their fees in a settlement or as part of a judgement following a victory in court. Victorious consumers never pay a penny out of pocket.
Whether you resort to the lemon law in Indiana or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, hiring a lemon law lawyer will help you get the best possible outcome for your claim. Allen Stewart, P.C.’s determined and experienced lemon law lawyers know all the potential problems and pitfalls your claim can face and will help you get the best possible resolution. Our attorneys aren’t afraid to take your claim to trial, face auto manufacturers in the courtroom and get you the justice to which you are entitled.
Vehicle consumers filing a lemon law claim in Indiana should maintain meticulous records of all attempted repairs. Those records should note the reported problems, when they arose, and what actions the dealership or other authorized mechanics undertook in an attempt to solve the issue.
Well-kept records help lemon law attorneys build solid cases, increasing your chances it will resolve in your favor. Keeping every work order, bill and receipt can only help you.
The lemon law in Indiana compels automotive manufacturers repay consumers the total contract price of the vehicle, including all trade-in credits and allowances, if the consumer prevails and chooses repurchase. The manufacturer must also repay all sales taxes, the unexpended portion of any prepaid registration fees and excise taxes, all expended finance charges, the cost of all dealer-added options and any towing or rental car costs incurred because of the defect. The manufacturer can, however, withhold a “reasonable allowance” for the vehicle’s use.
If the consumer chooses replacement, the manufacturer must provide a “replacement vehicle of comparable value” as well as reimbursement for registration fees, sales taxes and towing and rental costs.
Clients can use money earned from their settlement for anything they like after their claim resolves.
Clients usually finance new vehicles, meaning they remain on the hook for those car payments even when the vehicle is under repair for defects. Plaintiffs must continue making their car payments throughout the lifetime of their lemon law claim. Once they receive their settlement funds, they can use those funds to pay off the remainder of their loan and get out from under a nonconforming, defective vehicle.
If you purchased your defective vehicle cash, your settlement funds could also go toward purchasing a new vehicle altogether. Funds recovered through your lemon law claim could be used as a down payment on a new vehicle – hopefully one without recurring, unfixable problems.
You can use the money recovered through a successful lemon law claim any way you see fit. That money represents more than reparation for money lost on a defective vehicle. It represents you standing up and asserting your rights as an American consumer. Don’t let automotive manufacturers push you around and leave you in the dust. Contact us today so we can get you back behind the wheel.
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