5 Essential Steps for Filing a Lemon Law Case
If you’ve returned your vehicle to the dealership a half dozen times or more, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement. To maximize your chances of a successful lemon law buyback, keep meticulous records of all services rendered, a detailed description of the problem, and repair orders. Consider working with a lemon law attorney early on in the process. Manufacturers often cooperate better with representation, moving the process more efficiently along.
Take Your Car to the Dealer
The Lemon law provides a legal remedy for buyers or lessees of new cars and certain used cars, wheelchairs, and defective farm equipment (“lemons”). If the manufacturer or its authorized dealer cannot repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts, you can receive a full refund or a replacement car. The key to any successful Lemon law case is detailed records. It is important to always report any defects to your dealer as soon as you notice them. Keeping a logbook that includes service receipts, a detailed description of the problem, notes on conversations with the dealer and manufacturer, and any pertinent correspondence will significantly aid your attorney in establishing that you have a valid Lemon Law claim.
If you are still determining whether your vehicle is covered by the lemon law or the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, immediately contact an experienced Florida lemon law attorney for advice. It is critical to consult with a lemon law attorney early in the process because state laws require manufacturers to give you a specific number of repair attempts before allowing you to file for compensation.
File a Notice of Defect
If you file a lawsuit, you must file a notice of defect. This is required by law and is often a prerequisite to filing legal action. A notice of defect is a written statement that identifies any construction defects and names the contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or design professional responsible for each one. The notice must contain “reasonable detail sufficient to determine the general nature of each alleged construction defect, a description of any damages resulting from each such defect (if known), and a request for inspection.” The law suggests that the notice be sent within 15 days of discovery, though it does not bar legal action if it is filed later. The law also states that the contractor must be provided access to the dwelling to inspect and assess each alleged construction defect. It may be necessary to hire a process server or another personal service method to get the papers served on the defendant. This is typically done after the judge has granted permission to do so. Once the defendant is notified that a lawsuit has been filed, they must submit a response.
Request a Refund
If your vehicle meets the state Lemon Law requirements for a refund or replacement, the manufacturer will go through the arbitration process to determine how much you are entitled to. This is a mandatory step in most states.
This can take a few weeks to a few months to resolve. Your lawyer will help you prepare for this step and ensure you are ready to negotiate a possible settlement.
During this process, the manufacturer will determine whether to repurchase your car or offer you a new one. Typically, a replacement must be of a similar make and model. The law may also require the manufacturer to pay off your loan or lease contract. If the manufacturer decides to repurchase your car, you will get a refund less a mileage offset. You will have the right to an oral hearing during which you and the manufacturer can present evidence to a neutral arbitrator. However, the arbitration rules can vary by state and can be complex. This is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lemon law attorney on your side.
Go Through Arbitration
Sometimes, parties opt to resolve disputes in arbitration rather than trial. This may be because it is more cost-effective, less time-consuming, and quicker than a trial. Or, they may have signed a contract that requires them to go through arbitration if a dispute arises. Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that involves an impartial tribunal hearing and examining evidence presented by the parties and witnesses. Hearings are often lengthy and can last for many weeks or months. The arbitrator will then render a decision and close the case. A decision in an arbitration is final and binding. If you are awarded compensation, you can only seek a new trial or have the case reversed in court if the arbitrator makes a law error.
File a Lawsuit
There are a lot of decisions that must be made before you can file a lawsuit. For one, you must determine if it is in your best interest to sue, which requires having a good idea of your case and the strength against the defendant. Filing a lawsuit typically involves submitting various forms to the court, depending on what state or federal law you are suing under and the court’s rules. You may also need to pay a filing fee.
The most crucial document is the complaint. In this document, you describe your case (factual allegations), what laws give the court jurisdiction to rule in your favor, and what you want the court to do to remedy your situation.