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Mistakes to Avoid in a Lemon Law Claim

Law Offices of Kevin Faulk  Feb. 7, 2024

What? You don't know how to go about filing a lemon law claim? Don't worry, you're not alone. Also, how would you know, unless you're a legal or automotive professional, or unless you've navigated the process numerous times before? 

The reality is that many people are unaware of their rights under lemon law, and that's why they make mistakes while filing a claim. But it's not their fault the law is difficult to understand. 

Our firm, the Law Offices of Kevin Faulk, helps people throughout California who have purchased a defective vehicle. We've seen (and resolved) many types of mistakes that people make when pursuing their lemon law claims, and we want to help you avoid them.  

Failing to Document Everything

One of the most common mistakes we see is a lack of thorough documentation. It's essential that you keep a detailed record of your purchase, the amounts that you paid for the vehicle, all repairs, conversations with dealership personnel, and any issues you encounter. These records serve as crucial evidence in proving that your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. 

Ignoring the Manufacturer's Warranty

Many individuals often overlook the importance of the manufacturer's warranty, mistakenly assuming that it is solely the responsibility of the dealership. But manufacturers themselves are highly invested in upholding their reputation and customer satisfaction. As a result, they are often more than willing to offer repair or replacement services for defective vehicles.  

So, if you find yourself facing recurring issues with your vehicle, we strongly recommend reaching out to the manufacturer directly. By doing so, you can ensure that your concerns are addressed promptly and efficiently, allowing you to potentially avoid the hassle of a lemon law claim altogether. 

Missing the Lemon Law Criteria

Each state has specific criteria that a vehicle must meet to qualify under lemon law. Misunderstanding or failing to meet these criteria can lead to a denied claim. That's why it's so important to research California’s lemon law requirements and ensure your situation aligns with them. 

  • Covered Vehicles. For a car to qualify as a lemon under California law, the repairs must have been covered under the original manufacturer's warranty or certified pre-owned warranty. If the warranty was expired when the vehicle needed repairs, unfortunately, the lemon law won't apply. 

  • Timing of Defects. The defect or issue must have occurred during the warranty period. It's also important to note that any defects caused by abuse or neglect won't qualify for a lemon law claim. 

Understanding these requirements is a crucial first step in your lemon law claim. However, each case is unique and has its own set of circumstances. That's why we recommend speaking with an experienced lemon law attorney who can help you navigate your case effectively. 

Neglecting to Notify the Manufacturer

If you believe your vehicle is a lemon, it's essential to notify the manufacturer as soon as possible. This formal notice triggers the manufacturer’s obligation to address the issue, potentially leading to a vehicle buyback or replacement. 

Not Hiring an Attorney

Lemon law cases can become complex, and legal knowledge is invaluable. Some individuals attempt to handle their claims without an attorney to save money, but this can lead to inadequate representation and unfavorable outcomes. We strongly advise consulting with a lemon law attorney in your area who you can rely on. Other qualities to look for in your lawyer include:  

  • Experience: You want an attorney who has handled lemon law cases before and has a proven track record of success. 

  • Expertise in Lemon Law: While any lawyer can assist you with your case, it's best to choose one who specializes in lemon law. These attorneys will have extensive knowledge of the intricacies of the law and be better equipped to handle your case effectively. 

  • Excellent Communication: It's vital to choose an attorney who communicates well and keeps you updated throughout the process. You want someone who is responsive and can answer your questions promptly. 

Not Keeping Communication Records

Just as with documenting repair attempts and issues, keeping records of all communication related to your lemon law claim is vital. Maintain a file of emails, letters, and phone calls to provide a clear timeline of events. These records can serve as evidence in your case and help your attorney build a strong argument on your behalf. 

Overlooking State Lemon Law Deadlines

Each state has specific deadlines for filing lemon law claims. Overlooking these deadlines can result in a denied claim, leaving you with a defective vehicle and no recourse. Familiarize yourself with your state's statute of limitations for lemon law cases. 

In California, you have four years from the time you first encounter warrantable issues with your vehicle.  

Failing to Verify Repair Attempts

It’s crucial to verify that the dealership made genuine repair attempts on your vehicle. Always request and keep copies of repair orders and invoices. These documents will serve as evidence of the dealership's attempts to fix the issue, making it easier to build a case for your lemon law claim. 

Not Allowing Reasonable Attempts to Fix the Problem

One crucial factor in California’s lemon law is the concept of “reasonable” repair attempts. The dealer must be given a reasonable number of tries to fix the problem, which can be as few as two attempts. If your vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days without resolution, it may also qualify as a lemon. 

Making Costly Mistakes During Litigation

Mistakes made during the litigation process can have severe consequences, potentially resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars or even losing your case entirely.  

Engaging in litigation based on emotions rather than facts and legal advice is a costly mistake. For instance, a client may insist on pushing forward with a trial due to frustration with the manufacturer, despite being offered a fair settlement that meets their lemon law claim objectives. Pursuing a case out of principle rather than on the merits can lead to unnecessary legal fees, extended court battles, and the risk of obtaining less favorable outcomes than the settlement originally proposed. It's important to keep a level head and consider the financial and emotional costs of prolonged litigation. 

By working with an experienced lemon law attorney, you can greatly minimize the chances of making costly mistakes. 

Settling for Less Than You Deserve

As a consumer, you have the right to seek compensation if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. This compensation can take the form of a replacement vehicle or reimbursement. Additionally, incidental expenses like rental cars or time missed from work due to the defective vehicle can also be reimbursed. 

When entering arbitration, it's essential to seek the maximum compensation that takes into account incidental expenses and the inconvenience caused by the defects. An experienced attorney can help you maximize your potential compensation and benefits. 

Get Legal Help Today

If you're dealing with a vehicle that's causing more headaches than joy rides, don't wait. Reach out to an experienced and trustworthy lemon law attorney who can guide you through the process. 

Contact us today for a consultation. At the Law Offices of Kevin Faulk, we're proud to serve clients throughout California. Based in Sunnyvale, we've worked with lemon law clients throughout Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Fresno County, and Kern County.