The lemon law requires manufacturers of defective vehicles, which are sometimes referred to as lemon cars, to honor certain legal obligations. But, while manufacturers must honor these duties, consumers must also take certain steps to make sure that their legal claim is not dismissed because of accusations of vehicle abuse. Once a consumer believes that they might have a lemon car, they should first seek out a legal consultation with a lawyer who is skilled in the lemon law and has experience arguing on behalf of consumers who have purchased a defective vehicle. Engaging in consultation with a lawyer could uncover some issues, such as vehicle abuse, that a consumer may not have been aware of and could also bring to light certain steps that a consumer can take to avoid these types of issues and accusations.
Under the lemon law, manufacturers of lemon cars must provide consumers with either a replacement car or monetary relief to compensate the consumer for the money spent trying to fix their defective vehicle and for the vehicle itself. But, the lemon law also requires that the consumer first establish that they have a lemon car and that they have complied with their own legal obligations in order to be compensated. The lemon law requires that the consumer take their lemon car to the manufacturer, or its agent, for a reasonable number of repairs so that the manufacturer can attempt to resolve any vehicle defect. Only after a reasonable number of repair attempts, and if the vehicle remains defective, will the vehicle be considered as a lemon car.
Overcoming the standards set by the lemon law for a reasonable number of repairs is just one of the obligations consumers must comply with in order to receive the relief they deserve for their lemon car. Another hurdle consumers should consider is the possibility that a manufacturer will claim that the consumer’s lemon car has been abused. Consumers may at first think of abuse as physically damaging their car and, while that is a possible accusation, manufacturers more often will accuse consumers of not properly maintaining their vehicle as a form of abuse. Under the lemon law, courts could consider a failure to properly maintain a vehicle as a form of abuse and could effectively minimize or eliminate any chance the consumer has to be compensated under the lemon law.
While consulting with a lawyer, consumers will likely be advised to follow the recommended maintenance schedule listed on the manufacturer’s new car warranty or in the owner’s manual that the consumer should have received at the time they purchased or leased their car. Should the consumer fail to follow the lawyer’s advice, it is not only possible that the manufacturer could accuse the consumer of abusing their lemon car, but it is also possible that a judge could agree with the manufacturer’s claim and dismiss the consumer’s lawsuit.
Consulting with and hiring a lawyer who has successfully defended against manufacturer claims of vehicle abuse is important for consumers hoping to be compensated for their defective vehicle. While the lemon law was drafted to protect consumers from big businesses, hiring a skilled and experienced lawyer adds another important layer of protection and increases the consumer’s probability for receiving the relief that they deserve.
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