Determining whether a defective vehicle is eligible for relief under the Lemon Law can be confusing, therefore, it is important for consumers who believe that they may have a valid lawsuit to consult with an experienced and dependable lemon law attorney. To assist consumers in understanding whether they have a legitimate claim against a manufacturer, the California Legislature drafted what is commonly referred to as the California lemon law presumption. While this section of the law was meant to provide consumers with guidance, it is sometimes misleading and could potentially deter consumers with a valid lawsuit, which makes consulting an attorney even more important.
The presumption details requirements that consumers, and their defective vehicles, must meet in order to qualify as a lemon and meeting with an attorney to discuss a potential lawsuit could aid in understanding these specific requirements. The law presumes that a car is a lemon, and qualifies for legal relief if, within eighteen months of the vehicle having been delivered to the consumer or 18,000 miles on the vehicle’s odometer, whichever comes first, certain criteria are met. If the vehicle defect is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven, the consumer must have taken the vehicle to the manufacturer or its agent for repairs at least two times and have directly notified the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair. If the vehicle fails to conform but the vehicle nonconformity is not one that would result in serious bodily injury or death, the consumer must present the vehicle to the manufacturer or its agent for repair on at least four occasions and directly notify the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair.
California’s Lemon Law also provides a time limitation for vehicles that are completely out of service due to the manufacturer, or its agent, having failed to conform the vehicle to applicable express warranties. If the vehicle is out of service for a cumulative total of more than thirty days from the point of delivery to the consumer, the consumer must directly notify the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair only if the manufacturer has clearly disclosed to the buyer the requirements and the relief a consumer is entitled to under the Lemon Law. The manufacturer will have adequately disclosed such information to a consumer through the express warranty or within the owner’s manual. If the manufacturer has clearly disclosed the requirements of the California Lemon Law and the relief a consumer is entitled to under the law, the consumer is required to notify the manufacturer of the vehicle nonconformity and the need for repair by mailing a notification to an address specified clearly by the manufacturer in the warranty or the owner’s manual.
The detail presumption lists many requirements for varying degrees of defects and consulting with an attorney to discuss a potential lawsuit may help decipher which vehicles are covered and which are not. What could be misleading for California consumers is when a vehicle is clearly defective and that defect is one that is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, but the correct numbers of repair attempts have not been made. Consulting with an attorney to discuss the consumer’s specific legal issues or lawsuit can help clear up any confusion and may save the consumer time and money in additional repair attempts. An attorney may correctly advise their client that they may have a legitimate lawsuit without having met the conditions specified under the lemon law presumption.
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