When it comes down to it, the process of lemon law, also known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, is (more or less) a big cycle that runs on paperwork.
To make the cycle work in your favor, you need to have ALL of the necessary paperwork in order for your lemon law lawyer. Keep in mind, when you are dealing with a defective vehicle, you are stepping into the ring with the auto manufacturing giants – of which spare no expense in the legal department.
The car repair report can be thought of as the foundation of your lemon law claim; the more qualified details you have, the stronger the case. Now, chances are, you don’t have a lot of experience with lemon law (hopefully). That being said, knowing exactly what to provide your lemon law attorney can get a bit confusing. While the lawyer you choose will likely tell you everything you need, having the proper paperwork prior to the consultation will help to speed up the process of getting the justice you deserve from the manufacturer.
When you are getting your repair report in order, here are three crucial factors you need to keep in mind.
Timeliness is EVERYTHING
Lemon law is present across the country. However, timelines of exactly a car can be deemed a lemon will vary from state-to-state.
As a lemon lawyer in Los Angeles, we can tell you that the window of opportunity in California is VERY small. This is likely due to the high population and number of cars on the road.
Now, when determining whether or not your vehicle is a lemon, there are two crucial timelines you need to be aware of when providing your attorney with the proper paperwork:
- How long the vehicle has been in the repair shop/out of service.
- How long it has been since you purchased the vehicle.
Starting with number one, when you bring in a defective vehicle to the manufacturer or dealership for repairs, it can classify as a lemon if it has been out of action for more than 30 total days to repair any number of issues covered under the warranty. When you get paperwork from the repair shop, there needs to be a clear indication of how long they have been working on the vehicle.
The second timeline refers to the total duration that you’ve had the vehicle. For a vehicle to be declared a lemon in California, the substantial defect must present itself within the first 18 months of the purchase date. Or, before 18,000 miles have accrued on the odometer, whichever comes first. If you are passed this window, your car will not qualify as a lemon.
The Number of Repair Attempts
If you buy a defective vehicle, the manufacturer has several opportunities to make it right before it is legally deemed a lemon.
That said, the number of repair attempts made is one of the most important bits of information to be documented. Again, this number will vary based on the state you are in. In California, there are two numbers you need to keep in mind when preparing your car repair report(s) for the lemon law lawyer.
- For any defect covered under warranty, the vehicle can be deemed a lemon if the manufacturer has made two or more attempts to repair it.
- For the same defect covered under warranty, the vehicle can be deemed a lemon if the manufacturer has made four or more attempts to fix it.
Before even reaching out to a lemon law attorney, be sure you have the proper documentation that indicates the manufacturer has made the proper number of repair attempts for a substantial issue.
How Exactly the Defect Affects the Vehicle
As what should come as no shock, every lemon law case will have a unique set of details. However, the common denominator across the country is that the vehicle must exhibit a “substantial defect,” of which is covered under the manufacturer warranty.
Now, we’ve mentioned this term multiple times, but what exactly is a “substantial” defect?
For a defect to be considered substantial in the way of lemon law, it must present a clear impairment to the vehicle’s safety, value, or overall use. To unpack this a bit, typical defects that fall under this category would compromise functionality of the following items:
- Door latches
- Seat belts
Unfortunately, a faulty radio knob or CD player won’t deem your vehicle a lemon.
In terms of the actual defect, there needs to be definitive information as to how exactly the issue impacts the vehicle’s functionality and how driving it would pose as a serious threat to the driver and those around them. Moreover, it must be clear that the defect was not a result of driver abuse.
The documentation you provide your lemon law attorney essentially determines the outcome of the case. As a consumer, you need to make it a point to keep records of EVERYTHING related to your defective vehicle.
In regards to the repair report, your lemon law attorney will use this information to consider the discrepancies between your history with the vehicle, as well as the manufacturer’s version of events. Making sure all the paperwork is in place will do a lot to avoid unnecessary delays, and ensure you get the most compensation possible.