Today’s post deals with a huge pet peeve of ours, an issue which affects many drivers.
Every week, we receive calls on the 1-800 LEMON LAW hotline from distressed drivers who are already represented by other lemon law firms throughout the Country. Sometimes, they are calling with a simple question and we refer them back to their lawyer. But, then there are those times where they are being presented with a settlement offer and they aren’t happy about it. It is unethical to provide any advice to a consumer who is already represented, so we advise them to ask their lawyer about litigation options. The client then says they want to litigate but they are getting a lot of push back. The reason? It’s because the Lemon Law Lawyer they are working with is not licensed in their state.
Now, don’t get us wrong. A lawyer is within their right to tell a consumer that they feel the settlement offer is fair, and they may not be able to do any better when litigating. In the case of Kimmel and Silverman, we have three certified ASE-certified experts on staff and one of the experts puts together a report on the value of every claim. We will share this data with our client. If we feel that it’s not in the best interest to litigate, we will state that. BUT, WE CANNOT MAKE THE DECISION FOR THE CLIENT. In addition, Kimmel and Silverman staff includes at least one full-time licensed attorney in every state we practice….sometimes as many as five lawyers–all with solid litigation experience. If necessary, we litigate and knowing that we are prepared to fight, we have strong leverage against manufacturers. Our presence in the court system is known and thankfully respected.
Unfortunately with internet advertising, lemon law firms can put a stake up in every state and then have a licensed lawyer serve “of counsel” in case they have a claim there. What does “of counsel” mean? It means that the lawyer will NOT be used unless absolutely necessary and they use the name and license of the lawyer so they can advertise there and take cases. Unfortunately, by doing so, they are putting consumers’ rights at risk. Just today, we received a call from a woman whose new car overheated eight times. The manufacturer has offered her a minimal settlement and she wants to fight in court for her rights. She’s getting push-back because the lawyer handling the matter is eight hours away, and there is no full-time lawyer at their Firm who could litigate the matter. This is grossly unfair to the client. And if the manufacturer knows this, it puts the clients’ rights at risk.
Also today, we noticed an Arizona-based lemon law firm advertising heavily in a state far far away from its perch. There is no information as to which lawyer at their firm is licensed in the advertised state, but one thing is clear…..their information on the Law is completely wrong. The Law was updated two years ago and the statute is much stronger than they present it to be. As a firm that prides itself in trying to educate consumers on their rights, we have one word for this– UUUUUGGGHHH! It really uspets us and it confuses the consumer. Sure, there are glitches from time-to-time, but if you see your information is incorrect, make an effort to correct it for the consumer’s sake.
In short, when you are hiring a lemon law firm, ask if there is a full-time attorney on staff who is licensed to practice in your sate. That way, you know you are prepared and ready to battle if the manufacturer does not automatically see things your way. Plus, you will have the leverage you need to ensure that it will no longer be a David vs. Goliath battle.