Buying a new car should be a time of joy and relief. However, for thousands of American customers, the excitement behind a new car purchase can quickly become a nightmare. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates American consumers purchase 150,000 defective vehicles containing repeating, unfixable problems. The problems that make a vehicle a “lemon” can be caused by any number of issues, ranging from design flaws, substandard materials, manufacturing errors or simple human mistakes at the factory. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same: a defective lemon vehicle.
Every vehicle manufacturer around the world makes lemons. Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and many more have seen bad vehicles hit dealerships and land in the hands of unsuspecting consumers. The smallest mistake at the factory can mount into big problems for car customers: lemons can cost consumers thousands of dollars in unforeseen costs including lost work hours, alternative transportation costs, towing fees and other costs that can spring up when your only vehicle goes in the shop.
American consumers have options when their cars end up lemons. All automotive manufactures include written warranties with all new vehicles sold, stating within a certain period they will cover any repair needed resulting from a manufacturing defect. Written warranties are, in simple terms, the manufacturer promising they will fix any problem you find with the car not caused by the owner’s abuse or neglect. Warranties spell out what problems they will fix and how long a consumer can pursue a repair. This means any defect found in the vehicle is the manufacturer’s responsibility to repair.
When manufacturers fail to stand behind their warranties, lemon laws force them to either step up or pay up. Lemon law attorneys use these laws to take manufacturers to court and sue them on behalf of wronged consumers. Each state has its own lemon law, with slight variations on what they cover and how long their protections last. When you are considering filing a lemon law claim, there are three factors that affect how likely your claim will achieve success. Those three factors are the speed with which you file a claim, how much documentation you provide, and whether or not you hire a lemon law attorney.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law claim criteria questions, click here.
It is imperative to file your lemon law claim as soon as you discover an unfixable defect in your vehicle. Lemon laws, like almost every other American law, abide by “statutes of limitations.” Statutes of limitations are effectively deadlines for initiating legal proceedings. Past that time limit, a claim cannot be filed or would be dismissed on statutory grounds. United States law has statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal claims, though particularly serious criminal claims have no statutes of limitations. The statute lengths can also vary from state to state for their laws, which can also differ from the statutes for federal laws. Qualified, experienced lemon law attorneys know how these statutes work and how best to work within their limits to make sure your lemon law claim not only sees the light of day but makes its way through the legal system.
Statutes of limitations and other deadlines vary from state to state. Texans, for example, must file a state lemon law complaint no later than 42 months from the date the warranty became active. However, if the consumer drives the vehicle 20,000 in the first year after the vehicle’s delivery, the consumer would need to file the Texas state lemon law complaint before the car traveled another 4,000 miles, even if that occurs before the expiration of the 42 months mentioned above. Importantly, a Texas consumer should seek the assistance of a lemon law attorney to determine the time remaining, if any, to file a Texas state lemon law claim, and whether they should still try to file a claim depending on their specific circumstances.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
The second factor to a successful lemon claim is providing thorough documentation. All car consumers should keep meticulous track throughout every step of the car purchasing process, in case something goes wrong, and a lemon law claim becomes necessary. Anyone experiencing a problem with their new car should keep track of every trip to the dealership, including what problem they noticed, when they noticed the problem, when they took the vehicle in for repairs, when they got their vehicle back, and what repairs the dealership attempted.
Image Source : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/COA_courtroom_1.jpg
Detailed records help your lemon law attorney craft an airtight case likely to resolve in your favor. Keeping every receipt, bill, and work order can only help your claim. Your lemon law attorney will use these records to build a rock-solid foundation for your claim, one with the best chances of resolving in your favor.
Probably the single most decisive factor as to whether your claim will succeed is your decision to hire a qualified, experienced lemon law attorney. “Hiring” a lemon law attorney isn’t quite the correct term, however. A lemon law attorney will review the facts of your claim and decide whether to pursue it as your attorney. Lemon laws require manufacturers to pay attorney’s fees when they prevail in court, so a lemon law attorney doesn’t require payment up front. The arrangement benefits both you and the attorney: the attorney reviews the facts of your potential claim and decides whether they believe they can ensure you a favorable outcome. 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.
You are far more likely to win in court with a lemon law attorney than without. Allen Stewart, attorney and owner of Allen Stewart P.C., said plaintiffs representing themselves in court put themselves at tremendous disadvantage.
“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.”
The attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. will bring to bear their combined decades of experience when taking on your claim and taking automotive manufacturers to task. They have a proven record of coming through for their clients and getting them the compensation they deserve. Don’t wait any longer: contact Allen Stewart P.C. today and get back on the road.