Understanding Maine Lemon Law
Maine’s lemon law covers vehicles sold or leased in the state designed for the conveyance of passengers or property on public highways.
The lemon law covers used vehicles, but not vehicles used primarily for commercial purposes with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or more.
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The Maine lemon law covers consumers who purchase or lease vehicles and anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred during the duration of the vehicle’s warranty. The lemon law further covers any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations.
Maine’s lemon law covers any defect or condition, or combination of defects or conditions that substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the motor vehicle. The lemon law refers to these as “nonconformities.”
A manufacturer does not have to repair any nonconformity caused by abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations by the consumer.
The manufacturer must repair any nonconformity if the consumer reports it within the period of the written warranty, or within the “eligibility period.” The law defines the eligibility period as during the term of the vehicle’s express warranty, 18 months after its delivery to the consumer or within the first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever is earlier.
Maine’s lemon law compels manufacturers to replace or repurchase a nonconforming vehicle if they are unable to repair it after a reasonable number of attempts. The law defines “reasonable number of attempts” as four or more repair attempts for the same condition without success. After this, if the nonconformity remains, or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 15 business days, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The number of reasonable attempts falls to one if the nonconformity in question could potentially cause death or serious injury if driven.
The Maine lemon law requires manufacturers, when repurchasing a nonconforming vehicle, to repay the full purchase price. Manufacturers must also pay all collateral charges, including sales taxes, registration fees and similar government charges. The manufacturer must also pay for reasonable costs incurred by the consumer as a result of the nonconforming vehicle, including towing and alternative transportation.
The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance for use. That allowance is calculated from the mileage reported on the request for arbitration.
When replacing a vehicle under the Maine lemon law, the manufacturer must provide a comparable motor vehicle. The reasonable allowance for use does not apply to a replacement.
The Maine lemon law’s provisions for repurchase or replacement don’t apply until the consumer has first resorted to the state-operated arbitration program or an informal dispute settlement procedure that otherwise complies with the state law.
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 action in the civil court system. By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Maine consumers can hire lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. The 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. Shouldn’t you have competent legal counsel in your corner?
Ross said if you win in court against your vehicles manufacturer or settle outside of you, you can use the awarded funds for anything you choose. That includes buying a new vehicle or paying off the previous one.
If you financed your vehicle, you must continue making regular payments even as your lemon law claim proceeds. Missing payments can negatively affect your lemon law claim. You must keep making payments whether the car is undrivable or in the shop or still functioning. However, if your lemon law claim resolves in your favor, you can use the awarded funds to pay off what remains of your car loan. Thus freed from your debt, you can look for a newer car.
If you bought your vehicle outright or paid it off by the time your lemon law claim resolves, you can use you awarded funds as a down payment on a new vehicle, or to buy a less expensive vehicle outright. The choice is yours and only yours to make.
The Maine lemon law covers used vehicles, but consumers must report those problems within the first three years following the vehicle’s original delivery to a consumer or the vehicle’s first 18,000 miles driven, whichever comes soonest. Most used vehicles are resold long after either of these milestones, so you should speak to a qualified lemon law lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim.
Whether you win in court or settle beforehand, the money you’re awarded is yours to use how you choose. However, statutes of limitation can prevent you from filing a claim if you don’t act quickly. Contact the lemon law attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. and get started on the road to justice.
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