This is part of a series entitled “Lemon Law: 5 Things You Should Know.” It is written by Sergei Lemberg, who is an attorney who specializes in lemon law. His site, Lemon Justice, offers detailed information about lemon laws, as well as an interactive Lemon Meter for consumers who want to see if their vehicle qualifies as a lemon.

When you engage in conflict with a car manufacturer over a defective vehicle, it feels a bit like David vs. Goliath. There are many avenues you can take – from going to arbitration to suing manufacturers in court – but my experience is that arbitration and court aren’t necessarily the only – or best – options. In fact, most lemon law cases settle through negotiation or mediation. When a vehicle has a serious defect and the manufacturer refuses to do a buyback or replacement, it sometimes only takes the threat of a lawsuit for the manufacturer to do the right thing. Mostly, this is because losing in court usually means that the manufacturer could face the prospect of paying punitive damages or a doubling or tripling of the consumer’s attorney fees. A reasonable settlement is a winning proposition for both sides – the manufacturer doesn’t have to go through a lengthy court battle that it would most likely lose, and the consumer can get relief without dragging out the process.

Negotiation and settlement is also an option for consumers whose vehicles don’t meet the stringent definition of a “lemon” under state law. We’ve often had clients who were able to get nice settlements for the hassle of having to repeatedly take their vehicles in for repair.

The bottom line is that negotiation and settlement are always sound (and often the best) options in lemon law cases. But it’s important to have the law on your side should a lawsuit become necessary.

For previous posts in the series: Part 1, Part 2

This is part of a series entitled “Lemon Law: 5 Things You Should Know.” It is written by Sergei Lemberg, who is an attorney who specializes in lemon law. His site, Lemon Justice, offers detailed information about lemon laws, as well as an interactive Lemon Meter for consumers who want to see if their vehicle qualifies as a lemon.

The first U.S. lemon law was enacted in Connecticut over a quarter of a century ago, essentially providing a framework for consumers to constructively engage in conflict with automakers. Since that time, every state in the Union has adopted its own lemon law. While some state lemon laws allow consumers to take manufacturers directly to court, others mandate that consumers participate in a manufacturer- or state-sponsored arbitration program.

Generally speaking, consumers are led to believe that they can go through arbitration without the help of an attorney. While you don’t need an attorney to participate in the arbitration process, you can bet that manufacturers have teams of attorneys that do nothing but fight lemon law claims. Time and again, I’ve seen cases where the manufacturer makes the consumer jump through hoops, or runs out the clock on a lemon law claim. The truth is that consumers who have attorneys are more likely to get relief in a lemon law claim, both because the lawyer is experienced in lemon law and because it sends a signal to the manufacturer that the consumer is serious and won’t simply go away.
The bottom line? When you engage in conflict with big corporations, it’s important that the playing field is level.

For previous posts in the series: Part 1

This is part of a series entitled “Lemon Law: 5 Things You Should Know.” It is written by Sergei Lemberg, who is an attorney who specializes in lemon law. His site, Lemon Justice, offers detailed information about lemon laws, as well as an interactive Lemon Meter for consumers who want to see if their vehicle qualifies as a lemon.

With the federal government bailing out Wall Street, it’s natural for people to be frustrated and angry about the impact that this “rescue package” will – or will not – have on the financial struggles they’re facing. What many people don’t realize is that there are existing laws can help ease their economic burden.

For example, if you bought a car in the past year or two, it may be tough to find the money to make payments. If that car turns out to be defective, you’re faced with a double whammy – car payments and repair bills. Thankfully, every state in the U.S. has what’s called a “lemon law,” designed to protect consumers who have unknowingly purchased defective vehicles. But pursuing your lemon rights does mean actively engaging in conflict.

Although every state law is different, common themes run through them. New cars are always covered (though the definition of “new” varies), and motorcycles, RVs, and used cars are sometimes covered. There’s also a timeframe involved (for example, the defects have to occur within the first two years or 24,000 miles), and a required number of repair attempts (three times for the same problem, for example).

If you think that your vehicle may qualify as a lemon under your state’s law, it’s important to know your rights and meet conflict head on. When you do, you could qualify for a refund, a replacement vehicle, or a financial settlement. Consulting a lemon law attorney shouldn’t cost you a penny, since most states require that the automaker pay for consumers’ legal costs.