Documents Needed for a Lemon Law Claim

Did you purchase or lease a new vehicle in California with a factory warranty in effect, but it has never been quite 'right'? Is there a persistent, nagging problem with the vehicle that affects safety or drivability, or both? Then you may want to file a California lemon law claim.

The lemon law is designed to protect Californians who find a serious flaw in a new vehicle they have purchased or leased. Below are critical factors to know about the law, and how to file a lemon law claim.

·        The lemon law in California applies to any defect that has a substantial effect on the use, value or safety of the vehicle that is still covered by the manufacturer’s new car warranty. This is provided the defect is found within 18 months or 18,000 miles from the date you acquired the vehicle.

·        If the auto manufacturer cannot repair the problem, the vehicle must be replaced with a new one that is the same as the old one or give you a refund. Note the manufacturer can charge you for mileage put on the vehicle.

·        Manufacturers are given a certain number of attempts to fix the vehicle; this is generally described as four attempts. But in a case with a serious safety problem – brakes, for example – they get just two attempts. Further, if your vehicle has been in the shop for more than a month and it is not repaired, you can get a refund or replacement.

If you think you may have a lemon law claim to file in California, how do you do go about filing a claim? Below is a general guideline of steps and required documents. Some consumers find this process to be time consuming and complex and choose to hire a lemon law attorney to handle the paperwork.

Do not be shocked if the dealer or manufacturer pushes back against your claim. The dealer might argue that the problem was due to abuse or it is not covered by the factory warranty. It is for this reason that it is often a good choice to have an attorney represent you in this matter.

Gather Documentation

As with any legal matter, documenting your lemon law claim clearly is critical to winning the claim. Some of the important documents you should have on file include:

·        The purchase or lease agreement

·        Proof of existing factory warranty

·        Any receipts or bills you have of repair work.

It is especially important to have full records of the repairs that were attempted on your vehicle. Every time you take the vehicle to the dealership, you should have an invoice with a description of the repairs attempted. Make sure this paperwork accurately describes what the problem is with the car that is not being properly repaired. Also, keep track of correspondence that you have had with the auto manufacturer. The more proof you have of the repairs that were attempted, the stronger your case will be.

Submit Claim to Auto Manufacturer

Next, you need to submit the claim to the manufacturer. It will generally take approximately 30 days after you file the claim to get a response. Typically, the manufacturer will either approve your lemon law claim and offer to repurchase your vehicle or refund your money or will deny the claim. The manufacturer may argue that your vehicle does not meet the legal definition of a ‘lemon’ vehicle, or they may claim the vehicle is no longer under warranty.

If you feel you have a valid claim that has been denied, a lemon law attorney can help you with the next step.

Go to Arbitration or Litigation

Most auto manufacturers have arbitration proceedings available to resolve a California lemon law claim. Arbitration can result in a faster decision than a lawsuit, but you are not obligated under the law to go to arbitration. You can file a lemon lawsuit in court.

Contact a Lemon Law Attorney

Most lemon law attorneys offer a complimentary case review to determine whether you have a solid lemon law claim. Talking to an attorney comes with no obligation, so it usually is a good idea to at least talk the matter over with an experienced litigator.