Automobile Fraud and the Lemon Law

Lemon law and automobile fraud laws are designed to protect consumers from misrepresentation when purchasing a car. Common misrepresentations include failing to disclose information about the automobile's ownership history, mileage, physical condition, or accident history. Certain financing issues may also constitute automobile fraud, such as allowing the customer to take possession of the vehicle before obtaining a loan or promising to obtain financing on behalf of the cutomer and then refusing to return their trade-in vehicle or down payment when the financing falls through.

Requirements of Lemon Law

The exact lemon law requirements vary by state, but the general rule is that an automobile is considered a "lemon" if it must be repaired repeatedly for the same problem within a specified time period. Usually, three repairs are necessary to invoke lemon law protection, but this number can be different from state to state. Some states also recognize an automobile as a "lemon" if it is out of service for a certain timeframe, usually 30 days.

Filing a Claim

To file a claim for protection, you must generally have all of the documentation related to the vehicle's purchase and subsequent repairs. If the documentation has been lost, it may be possible to hire an attorney and subpoena the repair shops for their records. Some states require a claimant to notify the manufacturer in writing of the problem and all repairs that have been performed on the vehicle, while others let consumers pursue the individual auto dealers directly. Often, a formal lawsuit must be filed in order to invoke the protection of the lemon law and automobile fraud laws. Several states require the manufacturer to pay a consumer's attorney fees if the claim is upheld, so there may be no out-of-pocket charge even if an attorney is required.

Remedies of the Lemon Law

If the lemon law or automobile fraud claim is shown to be valid, the remedies available to the consumer will depend on his or her state of residence. The most common remedies are refund of the entire purchase price, replacement of the vehicle, or cash consideration for the difference in value between a vehicle in good condition and the "lemon" automobile. Claims under federal breach of warranty laws are usually limited to cash compensation or refund, not replacement of the vehicle. Again, these laws and remedies vary from state to state, so be sure to consult a qualified attorney before filing your lemon law and automobile fraud claim.

If you feel you may have been mislead by an automobile salesman, you can consult with an attorney in your area to find out if you qualify for lemon law protection.