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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

Lemon or Product Liability: Are You Entitled to Benefits?

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Buying a new vehicle is supposed to give you reassurance in one aspect of your life. You have to consider your budget, gas mileage and the safety of a vehicle. You have to weigh the potential purchase against the payments and their impact on your budget and life. All of this is balance and consideration.

If your vehicle starts to act up or puts you in danger when you try to drive to work, the grocery store or to meet friends for dinner, it is time to figure out the problem and if there’s any possible solution. This means additional stress and no easy answer. However, there may be good news on this front.

The first thing to determine is whether there is a recall on your vehicle that covers the issue. The next is to determine whether warranties in place cover the repair of the issue. However, even if both of these answers are no, there is a possible solution if you are a Texas resident and purchased your vehicle within the state’s boundaries.

For those who have a car, truck, SUV, RV, motorcycle or electric vehicle that presents with a significant defect, there may be potential for a resolution, thanks to a special department at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

If your vehicle has a defect that puts your life at risk and also significantly decreases the value of the vehicle, then you may have recourse for help under the Texas Lemon Law. This is only true if you have a vehicle that is covered by warranties from the manufacturer.

Also, the vehicle must be within the first 24 months since purchase or within the first 24,000 miles driven. With these criteria, the vehicle can be purchased from the dealership or it can be purchased as a used vehicle, provided it is still covered by those warranties and within the above-mentioned criteria.

Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form

This can be good news for you, since replacing a vehicle you are still making payments on can be an expensive endeavor. However, before you get into the details of a Lemon, consider if your vehicle fits the criteria for the complaint.

First, have you taken the vehicle to be repaired four or more times with no luck? These repair trips must clearly be for the same defect, and there must be proof (i.e. written documentation) of each visit, even if the mechanic did not make an attempt to fix the issue during that particular visit.

If your vehicle has met this criteria, here’s no. 2: has your vehicle had to sit idle for 30 days or more since you purchased it? If so, and you were not provided an alternate mode of transportation by a dealership or mechanic during that time, then your vehicle fits the criteria for a lemon under the Texas lemon law. It is worthwhile to note here that the 30 days do not have to be consecutive. Rather, they simply must take place within the first 24 months since purchase or 24,000 miles driven.

Before things progress too far, it is also wise to let the manufacturer know that you have a vehicle with a persistent defect. This is best done via written means, to be able to prove there was contact made if necessary at a later date. The manufacturer should be given a chance to make a reasonable attempt to help resolve the defect, before you take the next step on calling the vehicle a lemon.

If your vehicle meets these criteria and also the significant defect that puts your life at risk while driving it, then it is time to understand the parameters of the Texas Lemon Law. Under this law, the answer to are you entitled to benefits is possibly yes.

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Texas has a lemon law, which is overseen by the Texas DMV. This is meant to reduce time spent in the litigation process. It means working with the process to submit the complaint (which can be done online) and working through a specific tiered process to reach a resolution.

The first step is submitting the complaint. This is then assigned to a member of the Texas DMV staff in the department that handles them. Once the complaint is in the works, the first step is mediation.

For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.

If there is no resolution following mediation, the next step is a hearing before an examiner, when both sides are given an opportunity to share their side of the story. The examiner then has 60 days to provide a written decision. This can be appealed by either side if it is deemed unsatisfactory.

For you, the auto owner, there are three possible outcomes if the examiner finds in your favor. Those three are repurchase, replacement and repair. The examiner can determine that the vehicle must be repaired, with the manufacturer held responsible to see if it is done properly and to fund the repair.

Replacement with a vehicle of comparable value, with consideration for the number of miles driven, the payments made on the vehicle and also possibly the amount spent toward repairs that were not successful, is also an option.

The third option is repurchase, which again considers the amount of payments made toward the vehicle’s purchase and toward repairs. It also takes into account the miles the vehicle has been driven since it rolled off the lot in your possession.

Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.

Legal representation is a valuable asset to have throughout this process, even though it is not pursued in a courtroom and following more traditional legal proceedings. A successful lemon law lawyer can help gather the pertinent information, see any potential flaws in the information gathered before the complaint is submitted and further smooth the process from complaint to completion.

A successful lemon law attorney has support staff that can help in the process – which will reduce the amount of stress on you, the auto owner. This can be important at a time when stress is all you seem to feel. You may be concerned about getting to work and being safe on the road, and it helps to have people on your side to balance the various needs of this legal process.

The value of a professional in the legal field and the assistance they can provide in a variety of aspects of the case cannot be ignored. Typically – and hopefully – this experience will be a once-in-a-lifetime situation for you. Meanwhile, these professionals regularly handle cases like yours and are better positioned to provide valuable insight at a time when it is crucial to your success.

The return on your investment in the services of a legal professional may be a smoother journey from complaint to resolution. It also may mean more reassurance at an earlier point and less stress on your already considerably stress-laden plate. Reach out today and find a professional that can give you an idea of what you need to proceed. If your vehicle is not operating efficiently, then there’s no time to waste to find an answer to the problem at hand.

This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C

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