Legal Zoom to Lemon Law Basics

What is Lemon Law?

The lemon law was established to protect your consumer rights. The lemon law provides you legal recourse after the purchase or lease of a defective new motor vehicle which fails to meet the manufacturer’s warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts. 

What is lemon vehicle?

In the 1800’s, people started using the word – lemon – to describe people who were sour (or unfriendly). In American English the word was first recorded in 1906 as a slang sense of “worthless thing“. Over time, “lemon” came to refer to anything that was defective or broken or which breaks constantly, particularly a car. 

Your Lemon Law Rights

The lemon law provides that when a manufacturer cannot repair consumer goods after a reasonable number of attempts, it must either replace the defective product or refund the consumer’s money. Generally, the manufacturer of your “lemon vehicle”, as opposed to the selling dealer, bears the final responsibility to re-purchase your defective car, truck, boat, RV, motor home, or motorcycle.

The consumer may choose to have their vehicle repurchased. Additionally, the manufacturer may not compel the consumer to take a replacement vehicle. Moreover, consumers do not have to demand what they are rightfully entitled to under the law. Instead, the law requires that the manufacturer initiate an appropriate offer to the consumer once a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defective vehicle has failed.

When to Seek Legal Help

If a manufacturer fails or refuses to offer a replacement or a refund for a “lemon,” the consumer has the right to file a civil action in a court of law. When the consumer wins a lemon law case, the vehicle manufacturer must:

  1. Provide a replacement or a refund
  2. Pay the consumer’s costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees.
  3. In some cases, the manufacturer can also be liable for a “civil penalty” of up to twice the consumer’s damages (usually the price of the defective goods).

Rather than seeking recourse from the dealer who sold you the vehicle (which can result in unnecessary loss of time and energy), contact your law firm for consultation to find out if your defective vehicle qualifies under the consumer protection lemon law.

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