Buying a new vehicle should be a great experience, but if you are one of roughly 150,000 auto buyers in any given year, you could end up in a nightmare. That’s because you get saddled with a lemon.
A lemon is a vehicle with a significant defect that both decreases the value of the vehicle and puts you at harm’s risk when you get behind the wheel. It also is one that sits idle for 30 days or more, needs repaired despite four or more attempts, and is costing you money while it sits, unusable, in your driveway.
It’s time to hire a lemon law attorney. That much is obvious. However, you might not know how to find the right lemon law attorney. There are many out there, and looking online can provide a list but not always the best information on any given option.
Therefore, it is a good idea to have certain things to consider and questions to ask when you narrow down your choices based on office location or other criteria only known to you. That way, you can compare and contrast and hopefully determine the best lemon law attorney for your specific case.
Consider the following:
- Experience: When consulting with a potential attorney for your case, ask questions. Have them tell you about previous cases they have handled and share how they addressed roadblocks. Have them explain how their staff approaches each new lemon law case, and what they expect to happen with yours based on previous experience.
- Willing to share case history: Make sure the lemon law attorney is honest about both wins and losses. Not every case can be a win, but ask them if they learned anything from their losses. Gauge their experience and capability based on answers to that question.
- Staff that can help: Ask how many staff they have available to help with your case. For a more challenging one, you might need multiple people to help track down documentation that you won’t win the case without.
- Experience with specific manufacturers: Does this lemon law attorney have experience facing the manufacturer of your vehicle? Ask them, and see what they say. Even if they haven’t faced this manufacturer, if they have knowledge that can help they may be able to point you in the right direction anyway.
- Available when you need them: You need a lemon law attorney that has the capacity to focus on your case when you need them to. Work with them and discuss how much time you expect them to commit to your case and see if they can commit to that.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law attorney questions, click here.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a specific department devoted to overseeing lemon law complaints. The complaint itself can be filed online. Once that process is complete (and the fee has been paid), then the process begins.
The case is assigned to a specific staff member, who begins by scheduling a mediation. That meeting is intended to allow both parties to discuss the situation. If that does not result in a satisfactory resolution, then a hearing is scheduled., Both sides can share their sides, complete with relevant data and documentation.
The examiner then has 60 days to return a written decision. That decision, if made in favor of the vehicle owner, then provides either reimbursement, replacement, or repair as a final resolution.
The decision can be appealed by the unsatisfied party. This process provides a more timely resolution than a trip through the state’s legal system. It also provides experienced staff to oversee the situation.
It is important to note that all three options can include reimbursement for the previous unsuccessful repair attempts. Both repurchase and replacement factor in miles driven but not aftermarket part additions.
If the vehicle is repurchased, the manufacturer is required to get the vehicle title marked as a lemon. This protects future auto buyers from a similar situation.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
A lemon law attorney is well-versed in the ins and outs of these potential resolutions to the case. They can help you navigate the receipt of funds or the replacement vehicle. They can also help with guidance in reference to the repair attempts, which are financed by the manufacturer.
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A lemon law attorney can be helpful in a variety of ways. They can make sure you are bullied by the manufacturer or pushed into an unwise decision. They can also make sure their fees are included either by a sliding fee provision or during the settlement negotiation.
The Texas lemon law is a reassurance for all Texas auto buyers that, if they are subjected to bad luck and end up with one of the 150,000 lemons sold in any given year, they will be able to find restitution or receive a replacement vehicle that can be trusted daily to transport you as needed.
A lemon in Texas must be a car, truck, motorcycle, RV, TRV, minivan, SUV, or electric vehicle that was purchased within the state of Texas (with the one exception for active duty military stationed in Texas).
The vehicle must sit idle for 30 days or more during the first 24,000 miles driven or 24 months of ownership. Those days do not count if a loaner vehicle is provided by either the service department or the dealer/manufacturer. It also must be taken in for four or more repair attempts -all for the same issue – with no resolution.
Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.
Finally, the defect itself must be significant, both putting the driver’s life at risk and also significantly decreasing the value of the vehicle.
The vehicle must be covered under original warranty from the manufacturer. Also, the manufacturer must be notified that the issue exists and multiple repair attempts have been made with no success. It is worth mentioning that certified mail is a good way to make this notification, as it can be proven that contact was made.
Now you know the criteria needed to meet the lemon law requirement in Texas. You know what to look for when it comes to a lemon law attorney. You even know what the complaint process entails.
It is a good idea to start preparing yourself for the case by investigating whether your particular make and model of vehicle has shown this type of defect in others, or if your vehicle is unique. It is good to look into recalls for your make and model and make sure the defect or related concerns are not covered by that recall.
It is also a good idea to start doing research prior to any future car buying excursions. You need to be prepared and knowledgeable in order to hopefully avoid this situation in future shopping excursions.
With a number of lemon vehicles produced annually, it may be impossible to completely avoid this situation. However, preparing before shopping for a new vehicle can help reduce your risks of this issue.
Meanwhile, it is a good idea to discuss the issues with your lemon law attorney and see if they have any tips to look into when shopping in the future. Having a reliable mechanic you can check with is also a valuable consideration for the future.