Know Your Lemon Law Rights
What are my state's Lemon Laws rights and Federal Warranty Laws?
Under State and Federal Laws, consumers are entitled to seek recourse if they are back in the shop repeatedly for the same defect, or in the shop for an extended period of time under manufacturers warranty. In certain states, such as New Jersey and Ohio, the Lemon Law also provides protection if you are back in the shop more than one time for a problem which could cause bodily injury or death.
When we accept a case for representation, we review which statutes apply to provide the widest potential recovery for our clients. These include the Lemon Law (if applicable), breach of warranty, unfair trade practices (i.e. damages for failing to repair the vehicle properly), and consumer fraud damages if deception occurred.
Remedy under State Lemon Laws and Federal Warranty Laws could include a complete repurchase of the vehicle, including taxes, tags, finance charges, and down payment; an MSRP to MSRP swap; or significant monetary compensation to reflect the diminished value of the vehicle as a result of the defect plus continued ownership of the vehicle.
If you receive money and keep your vehicle, the vehicle is not branded in any way, shape or form and your warranties remain completely in effect. Furthermore, you do not need to disclose that you received compensation at time of sale or trade.
Each case has different facts. The recovery you may be entitled to varies quite a bit. In order to learn your legal rights for your facts, please call our toll free number, 1-800-LEMON-LAW (1-800-536-6652).
What does Kimmel & Silverman do when they get my Lemon Law case?
Through an extensive review of your repair invoices and other background information pertaining to the year, make, and model of your vehicle, we construct your claim.
We examine what repairs were done by the dealer, what mistakes (if any) were made in the service department, the period of time that the vehicle was out of service, and the amount of money paid to the dealer from the manufacturer in exchange for the repairs. Through this investigation, we will determine the extent to which your vehicle's use, value, and safety were affected.
When the investigation is complete, we confront the manufacturer, present a thorough statement of your case, and then demand a full recovery as well as complete recovery of attorneys fees. If the manufacturer agrees with our position and you are satisfied with the offer, the case is resolved. If not accepted, the case proceeds to litigation by filing a lawsuit on your behalf in court.
Isn't it just my word against theirs?
No! Our firm provides the resources we need to prove your claim, all at NO COST to you. We obtain all service bulletins and background information. Our firm also utilizes the services of Master ASE-certified mechanics and appraisers who are an impartial aid in understanding the nature of the non-conformities. If necessary, these findings are then used for purposes of testimony at trial to prove your case in the event it cannot be settled.
How can we win when the repair records state that the problem was never found?
There are many circumstances where consumers call us and complain of an intermittent problem which cannot be duplicated or verified by the authorized manufacturers dealership. On the flip slide, we have found there are dealers who write "can not duplicate" because, while they know a problem may exist, they do not have a fix or are trying to undermine the credibility of the customer.
For more information, please read our blog post on The Can Not Duplicate Conundrum.
The key is to make sure that you continue to collect repair invoices for each visit you make to a manufacturer-authorized dealership, even if it's marked "can not verify" or "operating to specifications." These invoices can and will help your claim, illustrating that you repeatedly brought this matter to the manufacturer's attention.
Also, do not let a dealer's lack of discovery discourage you from bringing your vehicle in for repair. If necessary, request to take a test drive with the service advisor, ask for the dealer to install an autopilot device, or take your car to another authorized dealership to get a second opinion.
My car has clear problems. Can't I just get the manufacturer to replace it?
The way the Lemon Law is written can be subjective, and unfortunately, there are many traps set for consumers who elect to try it on their own.
First and foremost, the defendant in Lemon Law claims is the manufacturer, NOT the dealership. When a consumer storms into the dealership and demands a new vehicle, it creates a hostile relationship between the consumer and the dealer. Furthermore, some dealers will take advantage of this situation and actually tell the consumer they are giving them a new vehicle, when in fact it's a trade. It is not until the consumer signs all the paperwork do they realize they have been had.
Even if a consumer does reach out to the manufacturer, they are often denied access to the decision makers, instead spending hours with customer service representatives who provide them with a case number to pacify them. These case numbers often result in a plethora of red tape, inspections with field representatives, and promises of free oil changes and extended warranties, which is significantly less than the consumer is entitled to.
We have also seen countless instances where manufacturers took advantage of a consumer's lack of knowledge when it comes to the law and presented them with a horrible offer labeled a "buyback." Perhaps the mileage offset is excessive, or certain monies paid are not being refunded. If the consumer has no one to turn to who will examine the legitimacy and fairness of the offer, then the car company knows that they can get away with whatever they would like.
This is why State Lemon Laws and Federal Warranty Laws have fee-shifting provisions which provide consumers with the tools they need. This is a David vs. Goliath situation. The Lemon Laws put the consumer and the manufacturer on equal footing. Now, the consumer has an attorney with knowledge and experience in the law who has immediate access to the manufacturer's decision makers. Plus, they have access to ASE-certified mechanics who will review their invoices and inspect their car and testify on their behalf if need be.
The lawyer I spoke to wants me to pay a retainer to take my case. Should I?
Consumers should never have to pay an attorney for handling a Lemon Law or Breach of Warranty claim. In most states, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to pay all reasonable attorneys' fees and legal costs if such a claim is successful. We advise each client in each case how the law applies to attorney fees and costs, after we complete our investigation and review.
If the attorney you are speaking with won't agree to accept the case without charge, then perhaps the person lacks confidence in the claim or is unfamiliar with how to win and collect a fee. Either way, you are not served by selecting an attorney who requires you to pay.
In making your choice, ask how many cases the attorney has successfully handled. How many have settled? How many have gone to trial? What have been the results? When was the last time a successful verdict was obtained? Ask what steps will be taken to win your case.
If any answers sound vague and unsure, you should reconsider your choice in counsel.
If I pursue my claim, why use Kimmel & Silverman?
As the oldest and largest Lemon Law firm in the Northeast, our staff of attorneys is geared for aggressive FREE consumer advocacy. We bear all costs of litigation and preparation. Your participation is minimal and only in the most contested matter will you be required to present yourself beyond a vehicle inspection.
If you have questions, ask your family lawyer about us. He or she is likely to know someone we have represented or know of our practice. Speak with our former clients. Look at the dockets at the courthouses. We have handled over 100,000 Lemon Law and Breach of Warranty Claims, recovering more than $165 million for our clients since 1991.
How do I get in touch with Kimmel & Silverman?
If you believe that you have a lemon automobile and you would like us to help, call 1-800-LEMON-LAW or fill out the Get Rid of Your Lemon form.
Many of our cases settle in pre-litigation and that can take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months to resolve, but don't worry - you can drive your vehicle throughout the entire process. Also, if we don't settle and have to fight in court, please know that we are determined to fight for your rights in every way possible, and it will not cost you one penny at any time.
If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to email us 24-hours a day.