If you recently bought a new vehicle that very quickly started experiencing technical problems, you might have a lemon on your hands. If you bought a lemon, you aren’t alone: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates Americans inadvertently purchase 150,000 defective vehicles every year. These “lemon” vehicles leave the factory with repeating, unfixable problems. These defects can range from the seemingly innocuous to life-threatening; from paint job problems to major safety threats. Regardless of what caused the problems, two things remain the same: they aren’t the fault of the owner, and the manufacturer must remedy the problem. When they fail to do so, state and federal lemon laws give consumers and their attorneys the tools to get compensation.
Each state in America has its own version of “lemon law” that provides protection for consumers who accidentally purchase a defective car. The extent of those protections varies from state to state, as does the amount of time consumers have to take advantage of these protections. The federal law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, provides protection to all American consumers no matter what state in which they live.
Lemon law attorneys use their knowledge of these laws to protect consumers and guide their lemon law claims to a successful conclusion. As such, hiring a lemon law attorney is the single best decision a consumer can make when their vehicle ends up a lemon. A qualified, experienced lemon law attorney can help consumers determine what to do next, which state or federal laws apply best to their specific case, and how to use them to pursue the claim.
Attorney Allen Stewart said a consumer who hires a lemon lawyer has an advocate for their rights throughout the claims process. They have someone whose job is looking out for their best interests by knowing how the process works and how lemon laws affect both consumer and manufacturer.
“A consumer with a lawyer has someone who knows when they’re being bamboozled,” Stewart said. “Someone who knows when what that company just said isn’t the law, or the truth, or equitable. The consumer with the lawyer has an advocate that has seen many other people in like circumstances and knows what the appropriate standard of care and compensation should be.”
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law claim questions, click here.
Consumers don’t really “hire” lemon law attorneys as one might think. Consumers seek attorneys who will represent them throughout the lifespan of their particular claim. One key factor of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is manufacturers are required to pay the consumer’s legal fees if the consumer prevails in court. This lets consumers seek redress when they otherwise might not be able to afford an attorney. A qualified lemon law lawyer will know whether they can help you with your claim, or who they could refer you to if they cannot.
Stewart said simply speaking with a lemon law attorney is the single best way to start the lemon law claims process, leading to far better outcomes than simply trying to press the claim alone.
“I have never seen the circumstance of a self-represented plaintiff show up in front of the judge and at the end of the proceeding the judge not tell them ‘sir or ma’am, the best thing for your case is you getting a lawyer,’” he said. “Even the simplest things in the law can be complicated because if you miss the timeline, you could lose it all,” Stewart said. “If you file the wrong paperwork, it could set you back time and money, and you might lose the case.”
Andrew Ross, lemon law attorney with Allen Stewart P.C., said experienced lemon law attorneys know exactly how automotive manufacturers operate, especially when it comes to taking responsibility for defective vehicles—or avoiding doing so. They also know the detailed and meticulous process of filing and managing a lemon law claim, and the rules and deadlines involved.
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“If you’re missing some of those things, or if you don’t follow certain rules, your claim can be completely tossed out,” Ross said. “You run the risk of having your case thrown out or getting a judgement that prevents you from trying to present your case again.”
Once you contact a lemon law attorney, they or a paralegal working at their firm will ask you several questions about your vehicle. They’ll want to know the vehicle’s year, make and model, where you bought it and when. They’ll ask you about what state you’re calling from as well, as each state has its own separate lemon law that could apply to your particular case. They’ll ask you about the problems you’re having with the vehicle and how many times you’ve tried to get it repaired; most law firms require a certain number of unsuccessful repair attempts (or total days in the shop for repairs) before they will agree to help pursue your claim.
Once they’ve determined your vehicle was still under warranty when the defects occurred and you allowed the manufacturer the appropriate number of repair attempts, they may agree to represent you.
They will ask for records including copies of all purchase documentation as well as official records of any and all repair attempts on your vehicle. This documentation establishes the base upon which your claim rests. Competent lemon law attorneys won’t begin the claims process until they’ve had time to review these documents for themselves. The attorney will send you a contract and once they receive your signature, they will begin the claims process.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
One thing to remember is avoiding any firm that asks for a payment up front.
The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act of 1975 requires manufacturers pay a consumer’s attorney’s fees when the consumer prevails against them in court. This allows lemon law attorneys to pursue lemon law claims without requiring out of pocket expenses from their clients. Thus, any law firm demanding payment up front for lemon law services may not have your best interests in mind.
When a manufacturer doesn’t hold up their end of the warranty, lemon law attorneys can force their hand and make sure the consumer gets the justice they deserve. The lemon law lawyers of Allen Stewart P.C. have combined decades of experience helping consumers sue their defective vehicle’s manufacturers and getting compensation they need. The sooner you contact Allen Stewart P.C., the better your odds of a successful claim. Don’t wait, contact Allen Stewart P.C. today.