Understanding Massachusetts Lemon Law
The Massachusetts lemon law provides a legal remedy for consumers who buy or lease new cars and certain used cars that turn out to be lemons.
According to the law, if the car does not conform to the terms of its written warranty and the manufacturer or their authorized agent is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement.
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The Massachusetts lemon law covers motor vehicles and motorcycles sold, leased or replaced by a dealer or manufacturer. It covers used vehicles sold or leased within the “term of protection,” defined as one year or 15,000 miles of operation after the delivery of the vehicle. The law does not, however, cover motor homes, vehicles built primarily for off-road use, or any vehicle used mainly for business purposes.
The Massachusetts lemon law covers vehicle “nonconformities.” The law defines a nonconformity as “any specific or generic defect or malfunction, or any concurrent combination of defects or malfunctions that substantially impairs the use, market value or safety” of the vehicle.
Massachusetts’ lemon law does not cover any nonconformity caused by consumer negligence, accident, vandalism, or unauthorized modification. It also does not cover damage resulting from attempts to repair the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer or their authorized agents.
The law protects vehicle purchasers and lessees of motor vehicles for purposes other than resale. It also covers anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred during any express or implied warranty period, and anyone else entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations.
The manufacturer must repair any warrantied vehicle that does not conform to the applicable express or implied warranty. However, the consumer must report the nonconformity to the manufacturer within the term of protection.
The Massachusetts lemon law compels manufacturers to repurchase or replace the nonconforming vehicle if they are unable to repair it. Before doing so, however, the consumer must allow the manufacturer a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix the vehicle. Massachusetts’ lemon law defines that as three or more times for the same nonconformity without success. The definition also covers any time the vehicle is out of service for 15 business days or longer to repair any nonconformity.
After the aforementioned reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer must allow the manufacturer one final opportunity to “cure the nonconformity.” This final repair attempt can’t exceed seven business days, and begins on the day the manufacturer is first notified or should have been notified that a reasonable number of repair attempts have occurred. The manufacturer or their authorized agents cannot require written notice from the consumer of the existence of any nonconformity.
The Massachusetts lemon law says a manufacturer repurchasing an owned vehicle must pay the vehicle’s full contract price. They must also reimburse the consumer for incidental costs, including sales taxes, registration fees and finance charges. They must also pay for towing and reasonable rental costs directly resulting from the nonconformity. The manufacturer may deduct from their payment any cash award made by the manufacturer in an attempt to resolve the dispute that was accepted by the consumer. They may also deduct a “reasonable allowance for use,” calculated using the number of miles the nonconforming vehicle traveled before its return to the manufacturer.
Manufacturers repurchasing leased vehicles must pay back all payments made by the lessee under the terms of the lease agreement, as well as incidental costs, less any cash award accepted by the consumer and a reasonable use allowance.
The Massachusetts lemon law states when a manufacturer replaces a motor vehicle, they must also reimburse the consumer for any fees incurred for registration or any sales taxes as a result of the replacement. They must also reimburse the consumer for towing and reasonable rental costs as a result of the nonconformity.
Consumers can request arbitration through the Massachusetts New Car Arbitration program administered by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Participation in any other arbitration or dispute resolution mechanism does not affect eligibility for state-certified new car arbitration.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Massachusetts 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 may 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.
The lemon law in Massachusetts, found in the state’s General Laws Chapter 90 Section 7N, protects consumers who purchase defective vehicles in the state. Those consumers are also protected by a federal law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Your circumstances determine which law can help you get the compensation you need for your lemon vehicle.
The Bay State’s lemon law requires consumers file their state lemon law complaint within 18 months of the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, on the other hand, borrows the statute of limitations from the state in which the claim originates. The statute of limitations for a Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claim in Massachusetts is three years. Magnuson-Moss is a federal law that supersedes state laws.
There is no specific used care lemon law in Massachusetts. The state’s lemon law covers used vehicles sold within the “term of protection;” one year or 15,000 miles of use from vehicle’s original delivery date, whichever comes first. A second consumer who buys this vehicle “used” is still protected by the lemon law as long as they buy the vehicle within the term of protection.
Regardless of whether you use the lemon law in Massachusetts or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, before doing anything else you should contact a lemon law attorney. Hiring a lemon law lawyer is one of the best steps you can take to ensure a positive outcome for your lemon law claim. Allen Stewart, P.C.’s dedicated and experienced team of lemon lawyers know how to navigate the various pitfalls and technicalities in the legal system to make you whole again. Our attorneys keep you informed at every step of the way, and thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act get their fees from your vehicle’s manufacturer. You never pay a dime out of pocket.
Consumers filing a claim under the lemon law in Massachusetts should maintain detailed records of all attempted repairs on their defective vehicles. Those records should document all reported problems, when the consumer first noticed those problems, when the vehicle went into the shop, when the consumer got the vehicle back, and what repairs mechanics undertook on the vehicle.
Meticulous records help your lemon law attorney build a successful case that will resolve in your favor. Keeping all work orders, bills and receipts is key.
The lemon law in Massachusetts compels manufacturers repurchasing a consumer’s vehicle to pay the vehicle’s full contract price including trade-in credits, as well as sales tax and registration fee reimbursement and towing and rental car costs. The manufacturer can legally withhold from that repayment any cash award they made in an attempt to resolve the dispute, as well as a “reasonable allowance for use.”
If a victorious consumer opts for replacement, the manufacturer must also reimburse the consumer for registration fees, sales taxes, towing and rental car costs.
Clients can use proceeds from their successful lemon law settlement for anything they choose, according to Ross.
Clients who financed their vehicles must continue making payments even as they pursue their lemon law claim – regardless of whether that vehicle is even operational or still under repair. Falling in arrears on these payments could negatively affect your lemon law claim. However, a client could pay off in full their auto loan using their settlement money, letting them look for a new vehicle—hopefully one without the persistent, unfixable problems that plagued their last one.
If the client already paid the vehicle off (or bought it outright) they can use their settlement money to purchase a new vehicle. They can use those funds on a down payment for a new vehicle that could be as similar or different from their previous vehicle as they choose.
A victorious client can use money earned from a successful lemon law claim any way they see fit. That money can help solve any number of problems including those directly or indirectly caused by the manufacturer failing to sell you a completely functional vehicle. Don’t wait; contact us today and learn more about your possible legal options.
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