Understanding West Virginia Lemon Law
The West Virginia lemon law covers vehicles purchased or registered and titled in West Virginia. This includes cars, pickup trucks or vans registered as Class A vehicles. The law further covers the self-propelled chassis of motor homes registered as Class A or B vehicles.
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Class A vehicle registration applies to passenger-type cars and trucks with a gross weight no more than 8,000 pounds. Class B vehicle registration applies to trucks with a gross weight of more than 8,000 pounds, including truck tractors and road tractors.
West Virginia’s lemon law covers purchasers of new vehicles 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 express warranty, and anyone else entitled to enforce the warranty’s obligations.
The West Virginia lemon law covers vehicle nonconformities. The lemon law defines a “nonconformity” as a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use or market value of the vehicle. The lemon law does not cover any defect or condition resulting from abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration.
West Virginia’s lemon law requires manufacturers to repair any nonconformity reported to them within the duration of the warranty or within the first 12 months of purchase, whichever is the longer period. If the manufacturer is unable to bring the vehicle into conformity with its warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The West Virginia lemon law defines a “reasonable number of repair attempts” as three or more attempts for the same nonconformity without success. That number falls to one attempt for any nonconformity likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven. The definition also covers any time the vehicle is out of service for 30 calendar days or longer to repair any nonconformity.
If all repair attempts fail, the West Virginia lemon law compels manufacturers to either repurchase or replace the vehicle. When repurchasing a vehicle, the manufacturer must pay the full purchase price as delivered, plus applicable finance charges, sales taxes and governmental charges. The manufacturer must also pay any costs incurred to repair the nonconformity as well as damages for loss of use, annoyance, or inconvenience resulting from the nonconformity.
The West Virginia lemon law requires manufacturers to provide a comparable new vehicle.
Before taking advantage of the West Virginia lemon law’s provisions for repurchase or replacement, a consumer must resort to a third party dispute resolution process, i.e. arbitration. A manufacturer’s arbitration program must be certified by the West Virginia Attorney General as complying with applicable laws and regulations. The consumer must have received timely notification in writing of the availability of arbitration with a description of its operation and effect.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, West Virginia 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.
Ross said clients who prevail in court or settle before going to court can use the money they win for any purpose they choose.
If you are still making payment on your vehicle, you must continue to do so as your lemon law claim progresses. Falling behind on payments could endanger your lemon law claim. Luckily, if you win in court or agree on a settlement with your vehicle’s manufacturer, you can use your awarded funds to pay off what remains of your auto loan. Freed from these payments you can then seek out a new vehicle, hopefully lacking the last one’s persistent, unfixable problems.
If you’ve already paid your car loan off, or you bought it outright in the first place, you could use your awarded funds to purchase a new vehicle. Whether that be a brand new vehicle for which you use your awarded funds as a down payment, or a less expensive vehicle you purchase outright, your funds are yours to use as you see fit.
The West Virginia lemon law doesn’t specifically state whether it covers used vehicles. However, it does say vehicles must be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Most used vehicles are sold long after their original manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
Statutes of limitation could affect whether you can file a claim, so don’t wait to reach out to a lemon law attorney. Whether you settle with your manufacturer or prevail against them in court, your funds are yours to use however you like. Contact the office of Allen Stewart P.C. today and speak with a qualified lemon law attorney.
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