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Timelines in a Lemon Law Case

Law Offices of Kevin Faulk Jan. 5, 2024

If you're in California, the statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim is four years. That means that you have four years from the time you encounter warrantable issues with your vehicle to file a claim against the dealership or manufacturer. 

Now, it's important to remember that this clock starts ticking once you, the consumer, are aware (or should be aware) of the vehicle defect. It doesn't start on the day of purchase or the first time the vehicle is driven. What's this "should be aware" language all about? 

This means that even if you were not immediately aware of the vehicle's defect, but should have been through reasonable inspection or use of the vehicle, the statute of limitations may still apply. It's important to thoroughly document any issues you encounter with your vehicle and keep track of when they occur. 

Worried about missing the deadline? Don't fret. A savvy lemon law attorney may be able to show the court that you couldn't have possibly known about the defect for some time, thus, potentially extending your timeline for filing a claim. 

Waiting beyond the four-year limit could jeopardize your claim that the vehicle is a lemon. To successfully argue a lemon law case, you must demonstrate that your vehicle suffers from a severe defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. Plus, you must show that the manufacturer has been unable to fix the defect after a reasonable number of attempts. 

Understanding Lemon Law in California 

Between 2018 and 2021, Californians registered approximately 7.6 million new passenger cars, SUVs, and light trucks. Surprisingly, during this period, the number of lemon cases filed in state courts was a mere 34,397. The low number of lemon law cases relative to the total number of vehicles registered in the state is partly due to California's robust laws that protect consumers from purchasing defective vehicles. 

The Lemon Law Process in California 

When pursuing a lemon law case in California, it's crucial to understand the process involved. The lemon law process usually kicks off with you, the consumer, notifying the manufacturer or dealership about the defect and giving them a chance to repair it. If the defect persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you can proceed with a lemon law claim. 

After filing a lemon law claim, you may engage in negotiations or mediation with the manufacturer or dealership to reach a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to arbitration or litigation. It's important to note that most lemon law cases settle before going to trial. 

Throughout the lemon law process, it's vital to have the guidance and representation of a qualified lemon law attorney. They can keep you on track with deadlines, advocate for your rights, and help you seek the best possible outcome in your lemon law case. 

How Long Does the Process Typically Take? 

On average, a lemon law case in California may take anywhere from a few months to over a year. The timeline varies based on the specifics of your case, such as the severity of the vehicle's defect, the manufacturer's responsiveness, and whether or not you choose to utilize a state-certified arbitration program. 

In California, most manufacturers offer consumers a state-certified arbitration program. This program is designed to resolve disputes without going to court and typically results in a quicker resolution than litigation. However, it's important to remember that while arbitration can be faster and less formal than a court proceeding, having an experienced lemon law attorney on your side can significantly increase your chances of a favorable outcome. 

Reach Out to a Lemon Law Attorney Today 

Remember, we're here to help. If you're facing a potential lemon law case, don't hesitate to reach out for a free consultation. We'll evaluate your claim, discuss the potential timelines, and strategize the best way forward together.  

At the Law Offices of Kevin Faulk, we're located in Sunnyvale, California, and we serve clients throughout Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Fresno County, and Kern County. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step towards seeking justice for your defective vehicle.