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Understanding North Dakota Lemon Law
North Dakota’s lemon law protects consumers who purchase or lease passenger vehicles normally used for personal, family or household purposes.
The lemon law further covers anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred within the duration of the vehicle’s warranty, as well as anyone else entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations.
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The North Dakota lemon law covers vehicles sold or leased in the state. Vehicles covered must be designed principally for the transportation of persons, trucks with a registered gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less, or vehicles using a truck chassis with a seating capacity of four or more passengers. The lemon law covers used vehicles, but does not cover motorhomes.
North Dakota’s lemon law covers any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and value of the motor vehicle to the consumer. The lemon law defines these issues as “nonconformities.” North Dakota’s lemon law does not cover nonconformities resulting from abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations by the purchaser.
The North Dakota lemon law compels manufacturers to repair eligible nonconformities as long as the consumer reports the problem within the term of the warranty. They must also repair nonconformities reported within the vehicle’s warranty term or one year following the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer, whichever is sooner.
The consumer must allow the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts to conform the vehicle to its warranty. The lemon law defines a “reasonable number of attempts” as three attempts to fix the same problem without success. After this, if the nonconformity remains, or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 business days, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The North Dakota lemon law requires manufacturers to pay the vehicle’s full purchase price when repurchasing the vehicle. The manufacturer must also pay all collateral charges associated with the purchase including all applicable taxes. The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle. That allowance is calculated from the consumer’s use of the vehicle up until the first report of nonconformity.
When replacing a passenger motor vehicle under the North Dakota lemon law, the manufacturer must provide a comparable passenger motor vehicle. The reasonable allowance for use appears to not apply to a replacement vehicle
The North Dakota lemon law’s provisions regarding replacement or repurchase don’t apply to a consumer until they have resorted to an informal dispute settlement procedure, i.e. arbitration. The arbitration service must comply with federal and state laws, and be approved by the North Dakota Attorney General.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here
North Dakota consumers with warrantied vehicle problems would be well served to contact a law firm for a consultation on what their next step should be, whether it be going through with arbitration or proceeding to trial. In court, consumers are guaranteed the ability to gather evidence under the state’s civil discovery rules, and to be represented by a qualified lawyer who can guide them through the often complex legal process.
By pursuing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, North Dakota 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.
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