Experienced Lemon Law Attorney in Los Angeles, CA
Though most motor vehicle purchases go smoothly, some purchasers may find themselves embroiled in a situation that can only be described as bad luck. Their new vehicle may be defective (with respect to the warranty), and despite repeated attempts to repair it, the vehicle continues to perform in a defective manner. On the whole, this can be costly from both a time and financial perspective.
Defective vehicles put the owner in a difficult position. After all, the manufacturer and dealership will almost certainly deny culpability, and will engage in an assortment of arguments against the imposition of blame. They may claim that:
- The owner is responsible for the defect
- The defect at-issue is not covered by the warranty
- The vehicle is not a “lemon,” even if it has a repair-related problem
- And more
As the purchaser, what can you do? Well — in California — consumer laws significantly empower plaintiffs in scenarios where the vehicle qualifies as a “lemon.” If you’ve made repeated attempts to repair your new vehicle, only for it to remain in a defective state, then Lemon Law regulations may entitle you to compensation.
California Lemon Law regulations can be difficult to understand for first-time plaintiffs who are not wholly familiar with the litigation process. Even if you intend to consult with an experienced Los Angeles lemon law attorney here at Quill & Arrow, we think it’s important that you have a sense of some foundational Lemon Law matters.
Let’s briefly explore some of the basics.
How Does California Lemon Law Protect Consumers?
In California, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act governs the protection afforded to purchasers of defective vehicles. Specifically, Lemon Law in California imposes a duty on manufacturers and dealerships to lives up to the promises in the warranty. Manufacturers must make attempts to fix the purported defects. If the vehicle still does not conform to the warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, then it may qualify as a “lemon.” When a vehicles is a “lemon,” then manufacturers must either offer a replacement or a refund, and must pay out for attorneys’ fees, too.
When is a Vehicle Considered a Lemon?
Whether a vehicle qualifies as a “lemon” under California law is a circumstantial, fact-based determination. Ultimately, the court will evaluate the “lemon” status of your vehicle on a case-by-case basis. For example, if your car engine shuts down every hour, and the manufacturer has been unable to permanently fix the issue (despite repeated attempts), then a court is likely to consider your vehicle a “lemon.”
Importantly, California makes it easier for Lemon Law plaintiffs by creating a Lemon Law presumption — when certain facts are true, you will be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that your vehicle is a “lemon.”
The following circumstances — together — will activate the presumption:
- You have made at least four fair and reasonable attempts to repair the vehicle, but to no avail (or two or more attempts in situations where the defect could lead to death or serious bodily injury);
- The vehicle has been in repairs for at least 30 days (in total, not each individual repair attempt); and
- The warranty covers the defect at-issue.
How does this work, exactly?
Suppose that your new truck has a brake-related defect. You take it into the manufacturer’s repair shop twice, and the problem has not yet been fixed. The brakes continue to fail as you drive. The manufacturer claims that they cannot identify the problem. The vehicle has also been in repairs for over a month. Under these circumstances, the requirements for the presumption are met. Recall that only two attempts at repair are necessary for defects that could threaten death or serious bodily injury (i.e., brake defects).
It’s worth noting that the fact that you are entitled to the Lemon Law presumption is not itself a definitive win, though it puts you at a distinct advantage, and will likely give you enough bargaining strength to pressure the manufacturer into a settlement. If the manufacturer believes that they can counter your arguments, however, then they may attempt to rebut the presumption.
Compensation for Vehicle-Related Losses
If you are entitled to compensation under California Lemon Law regulations, then you may choose to either have the manufacturer provide a replacement vehicle, or to have the manufacturer refund the vehicle and reimburse you for various related losses. With respect to reimbursement, compensation may include:
- Cost of repairs
- Loss of use
- Value of time spent on attempting to correct defects
- Down payment
- Monthly payments
- Taxes and registration fees
- Incidental expenses (i.e., cost of rental)
- Attorneys’ fees
- And more
When the manufacturer refunds the vehicle, they are entitled to deduct the value that you derived from your use of the vehicle. Typically, this is measured by the mileage that you have put on the vehicle.
Contact Quill & Arrow Law for Guidance
Here at Quill & Arrow Law, our team has extensive experience working with plaintiffs in Lemon Law disputes. Over the years, we have developed keen insights into the challenges and opportunities facing plaintiffs in the Lemon Law context, and we understand what is necessary to secure and maximize the potential damages for our clients.
By way of example, we engage Lemon Law disputes aggressively — instead of muddling around in pre-litigation, we immediately sue in order to put the defendant in a vulnerable negotiating position. We find that this strategy gives our clients a competitive advantage over the course of litigation, as they have significant leverage when it comes to bargaining for compensation.