What to Expect After You Win a Lemon Lawsuit
Nothing can be more frustrating than purchasing a new vehicle only to find out it has a problem that cannot be repaired, leading to a lemon lawsuit. Buying a car that doesn’t conform to its warranty can take up a considerable amount of your time and result in significant expense. Fortunately, California has strong laws in place to protect you from being burdened by the inconvenience of dealing with a lemon.
By pursuing a lemon law claim, you may be entitled to certain legal remedies. However, the litigation process can be confusing to understand — and you might be wondering what to expect when your case has concluded. Most importantly, when you win a lemon lawsuit, you will be able to obtain a new vehicle that is free from defects and safe to drive.
How Do You Win a Lemon Law Case?
To win a lemon lawsuit in California, you must demonstrate that your new or pre-owned vehicle has an unrepairable defect that substantially impairs its value or safety. To qualify for a remedy under California’s Lemon Law, you must also establish the following:
- The vehicle is covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty; and
- A reasonable number of repair attempts were made; or
- The vehicle was in the repair shop for 30 days or more
Generally, four repair attempts are sufficient to prove that your car is a lemon. But in cases where the nonconformity could cause a risk of injury or fatality to the driver, their passengers, and others on the road, only two repair attempts must be made. Also, there is a legal presumption that your vehicle is a lemon if the problem arose within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery or the first 18,000 miles were driven.
If your car satisfies the lemon law criteria, make sure that you retain all receipts, invoices, and repair orders. Keep detailed notes regarding the issues that you noticed as you were driving your vehicle, and record the times and dates your car went into the shop. Also, carefully document every communication you’ve had with the dealership and the mechanics who attempted to repair your vehicle. The more evidence you have to support your lemon claim, the stronger it will be — and the more likely you are to win your lemon law case.
How Long Does a Lemon Law Case Take?
Once you’ve filed your lemon lawsuit, you probably want to know how long it will take to go through the litigation process. After you’ve brought your car to the repair shop multiple times and spent hours on the phone with the dealership, it’s understandable that you’d want to conclude your case as soon as possible. While there is no definitive answer as to how long your lemon case could take, there are a few variables that can come into play.
Crucially, the duration of your case will largely depend upon whether it is settled or goes to trial. The stronger your case, the more likely it is that the manufacturer will want to settle quickly. But, when a lemon case is litigated, it can take longer to resolve. Significantly, the parties will be required to go through the formal discovery process and exchange various information. Based upon how complex the case is, discovery may take several months.
Notably, most cases eventually settle — sometimes just days before trial. Only a small percentage of lemon lawsuits are ultimately tried in court before a jury.
What Happens When You Win a Lemon Lawsuit?
If you prevail in your lemon law case, you are entitled to your choice of a refund or a replacement vehicle. Neither option is necessarily better than the other — it all comes down to your personal preference.
After dealing with a lemon, you might be inclined to steer clear of vehicles made by the same manufacturer. If you intend to purchase a different car from another automaker, a refund might be your best option. In the event that you choose a refund, the manufacturer must provide you with the full price you paid for the car, as well as applicable fees, sales tax, and finance charges.
Alternatively, if you were partial to the make and model of the car that you originally purchased, you can opt for a replacement vehicle. Under California’s Lemon Law, the manufacturer would be obligated to provide you with a vehicle that is substantially the same as your previous vehicle.
When you win a lemon law case, you are also eligible to recover your incidental damages from the manufacturer. This can include reimbursement for expenses such as towing costs, vehicle rentals, and out-of-pocket repair costs. In addition, the manufacturer is responsible for paying your attorney’s fees and litigation costs if your suit is successful.
California also allows a plaintiff in a lemon law case to recover a “civil penalty” if they can prove that the manufacturer willfully violated their legal obligations under the lemon law. This penalty can be up to two times the amount of the actual damages incurred. The compensation that results from the issuance of a civil penalty may be substantial, depending on the purchase price of the vehicle.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Lemon Law Attorney
No one should have to go through the stress associated with purchasing a lemon car. If your vehicle doesn’t conform to its warranty, a skilled lemon law attorney can fight for your right to the refund or replacement vehicle to which you’re entitled by law. The attorneys at The Ledbetter Law Firm are committed to advocating for the rights of consumers who have had to deal with the hassle of a lemon lawsuit — and helping them obtain favorable results in their cases.
The Ledbetter Law Firm provides effective counsel to clients throughout Southern California who have experienced lemon law issues with their vehicles and works to secure the replacement or the refund they deserve. With offices conveniently located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 507-7022 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.