When hearing the word lemon, does your mouth fill with sour water too? Well, as much as I would love to talk about lemon, its sour juice and how its yellow color gives joy to one’s soul, California Lemon Law is a more serious and important topic. First of all, let’s define what a lemon is. Under the law of most states, for a vehicle to be considered a lemon, the car must have a substantial defect covered by the warranty that occurs within a certain time after purchase. The car also must continue to have the defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts. This is when your car can be called a lemon.
Now, Lemon Laws are pretty much the same in all the states, but they always differ just a bit. It may differ a bit for California and its lemons. A question might arise. Does the California Lemon Law apply to any vehicle? Here is how it works. The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. The vehicle may be a car, pickup truck, van, SUV, or the chassis and cab portions of a motorhome. It is important that the vehicle has been bought or used primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
Under the California Lemon Law, if the manufacturer or dealer can’t fix your vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer has two choices. Replacing the vehicle or giving a refund for the purchase price, whichever you prefer. These are all the choices.
What is a Legal Presumption?
If by now you didn’t know, a legal presumption is a rule of law. It permits a court to assume a fact is true based on the available evidence. Legal presumptions are based on a particular set of facts which are paired with laws, logic, reasoning and individual rights. And as soon as the presumption is established, the defending party can try to disprove the presumption. Pretty confusing right? Maybe an example will help us out. Imagine a child is born of a husband and wife who love each other. So the child is presumed to be the natural child of the husband. The law presumes that husband is the natural father of this child until a person challenging this presumption provides sufficient evidence to the contrary.
Lemon Law Presumption
Now that we have a clue of what legal presumption is, let’s understand what the Lemon Law presumption is. First of all, the lemon law presumption varies from state to state. Specifically, in California, the lemon law presumption considered a vehicle as a lemon if during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles after the purchase or lease of the new vehicle occur three important things. First, the vehicle is repaired at least two times for a serious safety defect that can cause serious bodily injury or death. Second, the vehicle is repaired at least four times for the same non-substantial safety defect. And third, the vehicle is out of service for altogether more than 30 days for any defects.
So, if you are in California and your vehicle can demonstrate any of the three scenarios, then your vehicle is presumed to be a lemon. And because of the latter, the judge will tell the jury that the consumer has met his burden of proving that the manufacturer had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. After, the burden shifts to the defending party to prove otherwise.
Does not fit the presumption?
What if their vehicle does not fit the presumption? There is nothing to worry about. If your car does not fit the presumption, meaning does not qualify for at least one of the three above-mentioned scenarios, you can still have a valid lemon law claim. The biggest mistake that many consumers make is falling into the trap of thinking they do not have a valid lemon law claim because their facts don’t apply to the presumption. Don’t misunderstand. If the facts of your case do not fit the presumption, you may still have a lemon law claim and be entitled to receive a refund, maybe a replacement and more so often even cash compensation.
Now, how to understand if you have a valid lemon law claim? Lemon Laws secure consumers with legal rights and remedies for problems that occur during the warranty period. And usually, the warranty period of the vehicle is longer than the presumption period. So, if your vehicle has undergone multiple repairs for the same issues while under the manufacturer’s warranty, then you most likely have a valid lemon law claim. Keep in mind: you do not need to meet the Lemon Law Presumption to have a Lemon Law case.
A presumption is only a rule of evidence that can be used in your favor when your case moves to trial. The Lemon Law tries to make a legal presumption that a vehicle is a lemon. This presumption can be defended in Court. On the other hand, the manufacturer is going to try to prove that no problem exists. Or that a reasonable number of repair attempts has not been made. And the manufacturer is also going to try to prove that the problem does not substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value or safety.
Automobile accident statistics
Let’s gaze at some statistics from the past couple of years about automobile accidents. As most of us know, automobile accidents are extremely common in the U.S. The accidents have many causes behind them. Some include human error. And some are because of safety defects in vehicles. Every year approximately 6 million auto accidents occur in the U.S. These accidents take the lives of about 42,000 people and cause injuries to about 2,75 million people each year. And did you know, that the top cause of death for people under the age of 34 are auto accidents in the U.S?
Now, only in the past four years, almost 60 million cars were sold in America. Out of them, 1% are lemons. Well, realistically, 5% is probably is a more accurate number of lemons on the road. And some studies even suggest that the percentage is much higher. So, 1% of 60 million cars equal to 600,000 lemons. And if we calculate the number, taking into consideration that not 1% but 5% of the cars are lemons, we would have 5 million lemons on the road. But leave the numbers for a side, and think about it. Doesn’t matter what the percentage of lemons determined to be on the road by different studies. The point is, there is an awful lot of them. And that is not okay.
The Legislature found and declared about the California Lemon Law, that the expansion of state warranty laws covering new and used cars has given important and valuable protection to consumers. It also declared, that, in states without this valuable warranty protection, used and irreparable motor vehicles are being resold in the marketplace without notice to the subsequent purchaser.
A very important point is, that other states have addressed this problem by requiring notices on the title of these vehicles or other notice procedures to warn consumers that the motor vehicles were repurchased by a dealer or manufacturer because the vehicle could not be repaired in a reasonable length of time or a reasonable number of repair attempts or the dealer or manufacturer was not willing to repair the vehicle. Moving on, the Legislature also found and declared, that these notices serve the interests of consumers who have a right to information relevant to their buying decisions. And lastly, the disappearance of these notices upon the transfer of title from another state to this state encourages the transport of “lemons” to this state for sale to the drivers of this state.
An attorney by your side
Now that you know what a lemon is, what the Lemon Law is, what the California Lemon Law and its Presumption is, let’s understand what is the best action one can take when in trouble. As most of us, the people are not law experts, we might make mistakes without understanding the law and lose a lot. The law is nuanced and complex. It is very important to have someone by your side who is familiar with the law, especially with the California Lemon Law. Contact an experienced lemon law attorney about your particular situation. As every lemon is different and every case is different. Do not take advice from someone, who had undergone the same issue. It might leave you with wrong advice.
An experienced lemon law attorney will be able to analyze the repair history of your vehicle. And make a determination as to whether or not you have a valid lemon law claim. And the great news is that all will be done at no cost to you. Don’t take your situation as a joke. If your vehicle does not meet the lemon law presumption, you can still have a valid lemon law claim. You have rights and they should always be protected. The lemon law requires that the manufacturer pays your attorney’s fees and costs. There is no reason to hesitate to get an attorney and do it all on your own.
If you are having problems with your vehicle, let it be purchased or leased, new or used, and it occurred during the manufacturer’s warranty then you most probably have a case of lemon law. Contact the experienced and trustworthy lawyers of Margarian Law Firm. And if you still have some unanswered questions, read more about California Lemon Law: frequently asked questions.