What to do if you have a Lemon Law Claim?
1. Check the vehicle’s warranty in order to inform yourself about the proper steps to take to guarantee legal recourse. (A warranty is a written guarantee that the vehicle is of good, sound quality.)
2. Hopefully, you can resolve the problem with your automobile dealer. They should want to remedy the problem to maximize future car sales.
3. If you cannot resolve the problem with your automobile dealer, contact our firm by calling us at 1-866-86-LEMON (1-866-865-3666), email us or complete our free case evaluation. We will attempt to quickly resolve the claim with the manufacturer at no cost to you. Should the manufacturer refuse to comply with it's lemon law obligations we will promptly file suit seeking compensation for you. Should your case settle, all fees and costs will be paid by the manufacturer. Regardless of the outcome, you are never responsible for paying our fees and costs.
What is a "Lemon?"
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a lemon as: "One that is or proves to be unsatisfactory…" (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2nd College Ed., © 1985). However, in an effort to further define such a broad term, the Lemon Law attempts to define certain situations which entitle consumers to their money back or a new vehicle. In a nutshell, any defect or nonconformity, or combination of defects, which is/are not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts or a reasonable amount of time, may entitle you to lemon law relief. Your vehicle does NOT have to be breaking down to be considered a lemon. In short, if you are aggravated enough to be reading this you may have a lemon.
When Does my Vehicle Qualify?
There is really no such thing as "Qualifying." This is a common misconception (sometimes spread by uninformed individuals at your authorized dealer). First, the standards that are used by the lemon law to define nonconformities and reasonable number of repair attempts can be interpreted differently by different people. Ultimately, those people may be a jury deciding you case. Second, there are other laws which can be used to help you receive compensation in the event that you do not have a case for technical reasons under the Lemon Law. (Also see "What if I do not Meet any of the presumptions.")
What if I Start having Problems After the First Year?
You may still be entitled to compensation. There are other laws which govern warranties which may be used to assist you, including Federal law. Alex Simanovsky & Associates currently represents a great number of individuals whose vehicles did not start having problems during the Lemon Law Rights Period (See Your Lemon Law Rights).
Should I Take it in Again?
The answer to that question depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, at this point, the best thing to do is maintain the status quo until you have the chance to speak with a qualified attorney. In other words, do not allow the condition of the vehicle to change by having any repair work done to it. However, if your vehicle is dangerous and you continue to use it, you do so at your own risk. It is important to remember that if you decide to go forward many of the manufacturers will want to inspect your vehicle. You have a much better chance of obtaining the relief you seek if you can demonstrate a defect. If you cannot, you may still be entitled to compensation, but the chances of you getting what you want may be reduced somewhat.
What if they Refuse to Repair?
If the dealer refuses to repair your vehicle, you may also have a claim. The manufacturer has given a warranty, which in most circumstances, requires the dealer to do repair work. If the dealer and/or the manufacturer then refuse to do the repair work, you may have a claim under the Lemon Law, Federal Warranty Law and/or other laws.
What is a Breach of Warranty Case?
Basically, it is the same as a Lemon Law case, however, with two notable differences. First, the standards or requirements for breach of warranty are not as clearly defined. Second, the remedies for breach of warranty are also not as clearly defined. Therefore, you should consult a qualified attorney to discuss whether you may have a breach of warranty case.
What Documents do I Need to Prove a Lemon Law or a Breach of Warranty Case?
The most important documents that you should have are the repair orders that you are given after your vehicle has been in for repair. Each time you take your vehicle in for repair you should make sure that all the information contained on these documents is correct. For example, you should be sure that all the complaints are written up EXACTLY as you have stated them; that ALL of your complaints on that visit are included; that the "dates in" and the "dates out" are correct; that the mileage is correct; etc. In Mississippi, dealers are required under the law to give you a copy of all of your repair orders. If you cannot get them yourself, a qualified attorney may be able to issue a subpoena to the dealership to obtain all the documents on your vehicle. Also, if you keep a calendar of appointments which shows when you took the vehicle in to the dealer, this can be helpful in lieu of or in addition to the repair orders.
What Can I Get for a Lemon Law and or Breach of Warranty Case?
The ultimate relief in a Lemon Law Case is your money back or a new car. This is known as a “buy back” or a “repurchase.” When that occurs, the defective vehicle is returned to the manufacturer. This is usually done by returning it locally to one of their authorized dealers. Under a breach of warranty case the consumer obtains compensation in the form of a partial refund with continued ownership of the car. The vast majority of cases are settled under breach of warranty allowing the consumer to receive compensation with continued ownership of the car. In either recovery all attorney fees and costs are paid by the manufacturer.
How will my Attorney Get Paid?
Should we agree to represent you, all fees and costs are paid by the manufacturer. There is no fee or cost to you for our services.
What are my Chances?
Alex Simanovsky & Associates represents hundreds of consumers every year with defective vehicles. As with most cases, over 98% of these cases settle to the satisfaction of both parties. Remember, the manufacturer would rather pay less now than risk paying a much larger amount to you, your attorney and their attorneys later.
Can I Resolve This Myself?
You probably should avoid aggravating yourself further and wasting time. First, there is a reason that all 50 states have some form of a Lemon Law. Laws are passed to remedy problems which have become widespread. However, the mere fact that there is a lemon law does not mean that you will be treated differently if you represent yourself. It still costs a manufacturer less to drag it out with an unrepresented consumer and hope you will either go away or take little or nothing, than it would cost them to buy back everyone's vehicle who made a complaint. Second, if you fail, you will have wasted precious time if you then have to hire an attorney. Third, the right law firm does NOT charge YOU an hourly attorney's fee! By being represented by the right law firm you lend legitimacy to your case. If you select a law office that limits their practice to consumer law, the manufacturer will most likely already know your law firm. If your law firm has successfully handled multiple lemon law claims, the manufacturer will know that you have someone on your side who knows what they are doing. Furthermore, if the manufacturer knows that if you do not get what you want, you have the ability and the will to file a lawsuit, you will be treated with more respect. This is because it costs the manufacturer money just to defend a lawsuit (starting from the moment you file the Complaint) as they have to send it to a qualified local law firm to defend it.
What is Arbitration?
Most State's Lemon Law provides that manufacturers may set up arbitration programs. These programs receive consumers' complaints and are supposed to attempt to resolve the legitimate ones prior to a lawsuit being filed with a Court of Law. If the manufacturer has properly set up such a program and it is certified by the Attorney General, then the consumer's case must proceed through such a program before a Complaint may be filed with a Court of Law. However, not all the manufacturers have such certified arbitration programs and many times the vehicle is ineligible for arbitration due to age or mileage, per the arbitration programs' own rules. In those cases, the consumer may file a Complaint with a Court of Law without resorting to the arbitration procedure first.
Should I go through Arbitration before Hiring an Attorney?
There is no requirement that you go through arbitration prior to seeking the assistance of a lawyer. First of all, not all of the manufacturers have "state certified" arbitration programs. This means that arbitration is optional for those consumers who have vehicles manufactured by companies who do not. Second, for those who have gone to arbitration prior to seeking an attorney, many have informed us that they were treated with great disrespect and made to feel inferior because they were unfamiliar with the law and the manufacturer knew much more about the process and the mechanics of the vehicle. Therefore, Alex Simanovsky & Associates assists most of our clients by going through this arbitration procedure with them. Also, Alex Simanovsky & Associates believes that having a law firm's letterhead on your file gives your case more credibility. Whatever the arbitrator(s) decide, the consumer is not bound by the decision and can file a Complaint in a court of law requesting a jury trial. This is usually your best chance for a positive recovery and is usually done by a lawyer. This does not mean that your case will not settle prior to trial however. Most cases do settle prior to trial.
What if I Bought my Vehicle Used?
First, if you still had any warranty left from the manufacturer when you purchased your vehicle (or your vehicle was "Certified" by the manufacturer or dealer), and you made at least one unsuccessful warranty claim before the warranty ended, you may be entitled to compensation for breach of warranty. If not, your case may raise a whole host of issues which are beyond the scope of this "Frequently Asked Questions" section. However, you may be entitled to compensation for violations of various laws which you may not even be aware of. The following is a list of some of the problems and/or issues which may be present in your vehicle. Your vehicle may be/have a: 1.Laundered lemon (or prior history of mechanical problems known to the seller); 2.Salvaged or wrecked; 3.Rolled back odometer; 4.Rental car, police car, taxi, etc.; 5.Stolen, stripped and rebuilt; and/or 6.Involved in a flood.
What if I was Lied To, Misled or Taken Advantage of in Connection with the Purchase of my Vehicle?
Again, your case may raise a whole host of issues which are beyond the scope of this "Frequently Asked Questions" section. However, there are many state and federal laws to protect you which Alex Simanovsky & Associates uses everyday to assist victims of fraudulent and deceptive sales practices. Some of these laws provide for very strong remedies, such as Three (3) Times your Damages and Attorney's Fees and Costs. For example, if you lost $5,000.00, you may be entitled to recover $15,000.00 ($5,000.00 x 3), in addition to attorney's fees and costs.