What Are Lemon Laws?
Lemon laws passed at the state and federal level protect consumers that have bought or leased a defective product. The guiding principle of lemon laws is if a manufacturer cannot repair a car or another type of consumer good, the manufacturer either has to replace the defective product or provide the consumer with a full refund.
Federal lemon statutes established the foundation for states to enact their own legislation. Lemon laws vary from state to state, from some states covering used vehicles to other states covering just new cars. Another guiding principle of lemon laws is consumers have a limited amount of time to file a complaint.
What Is the Federal Lemon Law?
Reacting to growing anger from consumers, the United States Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in 1975. The federal lemon law set the legal standard for warranty coverage. If you want to file a lemon law claim based on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you have to prove your vehicle or another type of product did not meet the stipulations written into the warranty.
A section of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act created the federal minimum guidelines for warranties. If a product breaks down within a designated period, the retailer and/or the manufacturer must make a reasonable number of attempts to repair the issue(s). To understand the meaning of “reasonable number of attempts,” you should speak with one of the lemon law attorneys at Morgan & Morgan.
What Are State Lemon Laws?
Since the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act established the legal standards for addressing defective products, it is up to the states to fill in the blanks by passing legislation that protects consumers. Some states have enacted lemon laws that are favorable to manufacturers, while other states have passed lemon laws that fully protect consumers. For example, Michigan, which is the auto manufacturing capital of the United States, requires auto manufacturers to replace a vehicle or provide consumers with a refund after four reasonable repair attempts.
For automobiles, a car can be out of service for repair attempts between 30 and 90 days, depending on the state where you live. After you answer the question, “Where are the best lemon lawyers near me,” you should contact Morgan &Morgan to learn more about how your state handles lemon law complaints.
What Is a Substantive Defect?
You might find a few legal terms to be confusing when researching state and federal lemon laws. One term that can be confusing is called “substantive defect.” The short answer to the question, “What is a substantive defect” is it is an issue that a warranty covers. However, defining what substantive means often leads to disagreements between consumers and manufacturers.
A substantive defect can include a problem that compromises the safety of a product, especially a motor vehicle. For a car, compromised safety can include a faulty brake system or a blind monitoring system that does not properly detect oncoming vehicles. Because the legal definition for “substantive defect” often blurs the line between a minor and a major problem, you should consult with a lemon law lawyer to determine whether the product in question has a substantive defect.
What Does “Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts” Mean?
Another potentially confusing word is “reasonable” as it pertains to the number of repair attempts a retailer or a manufacturer must make on a defective product. For a serious defect such as a defective steering system, the retailer or the manufacturer has one attempt to fix the dangerous defect. For minor repairs, the number of attempts varies by state, with most states deciding to go with either three or four repair attempts.
States also define a lemon by how long a car stays in a repair shop. Typically, a minimum of 30 days in a repair shop over one year qualifies a motor vehicle as a lemon.
What Are the Consumer Remedies?
What can you do to address a defective product? If the product that you have purchased fulfills your state’s definition of a lemon, you have the legal right to ask for a refund or a replacement product.
Although the process for seeking a remedy for buying a defective product differs from state to state, the common factor among all states is that you should firstly inform the retailer or manufacturer about your problem. If you do not receive a satisfactory settlement offer from the retailer or manufacturers, then you can take your claim through the legal system.
Before your complaint reaches the trial phase, most courts require that you first present your complaint to a neutral arbitrator who issues a non-binding decision. Regardless of how your claim moves through the legal system, you should consider hiring a lemon law attorney to help guide you through the process.
How Do I Find the Best Lemon Lawyers Near Me?
Because lemon laws vary among the states, the first criterion for answering the question, “How do I find the best lemon lawyers near me” involves choosing a lawyer who practices lemon law in the state where you live. This is especially true for consumers that live in cities that border a different state. If you live in a city such as Cincinnati, Ohio, but you purchased a new car in Kentucky that turned out to be a lemon, then you should hire an attorney who has a Kentucky license to practice lemon law.
Let’s review a few tips to help you choose the best lemon law attorney.
Understand State Law
You do not have to become as knowledgeable as a lemon lawyer, but you need to put in the time required to understand the basic legal principles that your state applies to lemon laws. The first thing to discover is how your state defines a defective product.
Here are some other questions to answer when it comes to your state’s lemon laws:
- How many “reasonable attempts” must the retailer or manufacturer make to qualify the product as defective?
- Has the vehicle sat unused for more than 30 days for repairs?
- Did you contribute to the defect(s)?
- How long after you bought the product did it display signs of one or more defects?
Search for Red Flags
The process of elimination is an effective and way to answer the question, “How do I find the best lemon lawyers near me.” You must be highly selective when it comes to deciding which lemon law attorney is the best to represent you.
The following red flags should eliminate any candidate on your shortlist:
- Does not specialize in lemon law
- Asks for out-of-pocket expenses
- Does not offer a free case evaluation
- Hands over your case to a paralegal
You want to hire an attorney who makes a living litigating lemon law cases. An attorney might claim to practice product liability law, but you might discover the lawyer does not have much of a record winning lemon law cases. Any attorney that asks for upfront out-of-pocket expenses does not have your best interests in mind. A free case evaluation gives you insight into whether the lawyer sitting across from you is the best legal counsel to handle your complaint. As perhaps the most important criterion, you want the lemon law attorney that you hire to be the principal litigator for your case.
The more years in practice, the better it is when hiring a lemon law attorney. However, it is not just the number of years that matter. You want to hire a lawyer who has compiled a record of winning numerous lemon law claims. Experience is also important when it involves negotiating a settlement with the retailer that sold you the defective product or the manufacturer that made it.
Network Like You Do for Finding a Job
When you conduct a job search, one of the most emphasized elements is to talk with the people you know to receive leads on finding employment. Use the same strategy when it comes to hiring a lemon lawyer. Ask trusted friends, family members, and professional peers for recommendations. You should also talk with any attorneys that you know for recommendations of a state-licensed lemon law attorney.
Read Online Reviews
If you receive a recommendation from someone you know, you should not instantly hire the recommended lawyer. You still have to conduct research, and one of the most helpful research tools is online client reviews. Reviews left on sites such as Yelp and Google can go a long way towards helping you select the right lemon lawyer to handle your complaint. An attorney who has received dozens of positive client reviews can be the legal counsel you need to get justice for purchasing a defective product.
Get Legal Help from Morgan & Morgan
Before you spend the time required to answer the question, “Where are the best lemon lawyers near me,” start your search by contacting one of the lemon law attorneys at Morgan & Morgan. Our team of lawyers has a deep understanding of the lemon laws applied by your state. This is because we have branch offices located throughout the United States.
Whether you want your car repaired or you want to receive just compensation for buying a lemon, Morgan & Morgan will fight hard to protect your legal rights. Schedule a free case evaluation today to determine the best course of legal action.