Aggressive Attorneys Filing Lemon Law Claims for California Consumers
In pursuing a claim under California’s lemon law
certain documentation is relevant to the issues and evaluation of the claim. Repair orders and invoices, original sale documents, and the manufacturer’s warranty booklet should all be collected, put in chronological order and placed in a folder for easy reference. Review of these documents is the first step in determining whether a claim exists.
A repair order is printed out by the dealership when you drop the vehicle off for repair. We refer to these sheets as the “drop off ” or “write up” copy of the repair order. The repair order will set forth the items you are presenting the vehicle for repair of and should state the date and mileage of the vehicle. The complaints should be listed as separate “line items” and the repair order is typically given to the customer to review for accuracy. It is not unusual, however, for repair orders to be missing certain complaints and sometimes this is a key fact. Legally, however, if you complained about an item, that item is subject to repair whether the service writer records the complaint or not on the repair order.
When you come to pick up your vehicle, you will be presented with a “repair invoice” or “pick up” copy of the repair order. The invoice is similar to the repair order in that it contains your complaints as listed on the repair order. The repair invoice, however, also contains a description of what the dealership did (or didn’t do) to address each complaint. Again, it is not unusual for the dealership to have done little to diagnose the complaint and simply state “no problem found” (NPF) or “could not duplicate” (CND). These types of notations are a product of the warranty system created by the manufacturer to reduce the cost of warranty repairs and should not be taken as an indication that the problem does not exist. There are not many of us who bring our vehicle in for repair because nothing is wrong!
The repair invoices are important because they contain information important to your claim. While repetitive complaints are often at the heart of a case, repeated actual repairs or inability or refusal of the dealership to properly diagnose a problem speaks volumes. Often, the invoices will also note technical service bulletins applied to your vehicle and will help the analysis of lemon law claims.
It is not unusual for consumers to have lost some or all of the repair documentation regarding their vehicle. In these cases, it is a good idea to ask the dealership or dealerships for a copy of your service file. Even in cases where a dealerships refuses such a request, the dealerships will often be willing to provide a “Warranty Claim” printout summarizing the claims the dealership has submitted to the manufacturer for warranty reimbursement. Many of our cases begin with this warranty printout until we can procure actual copies of the repair orders and invoices.
Also important at the initial stage of a lemon law claim is the sale documentation you received at the time of sale. The Retail Installment Sale Contract is the standard form of a purchase contract and is usually a long, yellow sheet of paper. The sale contract contains key information regarding your claim including the date of sale, the price of the vehicle, aftermarket items added into the financing of the vehicle, trade-in information and rebates. These items will all affect the amount of money you will receive in a refund. If you have lost your sale or lease contract a copy can be obtained from either the dealership or the finance company.
The manufacturer’s warranty booklet is also important because it details the actual express written warranties covering your vehicle. Manufacturer’s warranties vary in terms of the time and extent of coverage and are often necessary to consult in order to determine whether a particular complaint is covered under warranty. The warranty booklet is usually contained in a pouch of booklets together with your owners manual.
When my office retains a lemon law case, we ask to have the original repair and sale documentation sent to our office via overnight mail so there is no chance of losing the originals. While a potential case is usually analyzed from faxed or emailed copies, original documentation is important for legibility and two-sided wording.
If you have been experiencing too many problems with your vehicle, motorcycle, trailer or boat it is a good idea to contact our offices and learn whether the California lemon law can help you. Consultations are always free as is our representation of you if we decide to take the case. We offer a “risk free” agreement to you where the manufacturer pays the attorney’s fees and costs separately from your damages. You may also contact us via the online Case Evaluation Form on this website. We look forward to answering your questions.