Buying a lemon vehicle is a shocking experience that leaves you with the feeling of disappointment and resentment. However, when life gives you a lemon car, you may always make the best of the tough situation. Wonder how? Federal and state lemon laws set different types of recoveries for consumers who had the misfortune of getting stuck with a lemon car. If you are in California, luckily for you, the California Lemon Law is one of the most consumer-friendly ones in the States.
If you purchased a lemon vehicle in California, you are entitled to:
- Have the manufacturer replace your defective vehicle with a new one or repurchase the car deducting the mileage offset from the actual price.
- Have the manufacturer reimburse all the incidental damages that the customer suffered as a result of the car’s defects.
- Have the manufacturer pay a civil penalty if the latter willfully violated the California lemon law’s provisions.
- Have the manufacturer pay the consumer’s attorney fees and costs, upon winning the lemon case.
Here you can find a detailed description of each of the above mentioned legal recoveries for your lemon case.
The California Lemon Law “Repurchase” and “Replacement” Recovery
Under the California Lemon Law, if a manufacturer is not able to repair a substantial defect within a “reasonable number of attempts”, then the manufacturer must either (1) repurchase the vehicle, or (2) replace it.
If the consumer opts out for a lemon car repurchase, then according to Civil Code Section 1793.2(d)(2)(B) he/she is entitled to the total amount of the money that is paid for the vehicle, including sales tax, license fees, registration and other official fees. The manufacturer is to pay off the remaining balance on the vehicle loan as well.
The lemon owner is allowed to choose a vehicle replacement option, rather than the repurchase recovery. Civil Code Section 1793.2(d)(2)(A) states that the manufacturer is obliged by law to replace the lemon vehicle with a new one. The new car must be identical to his/her old lemon car. The manufacturer is to pay all the sales taxes, registration, license and other official fees associated with the sale.
The manufacturer is allowed to deduct a mileage offset from the recovery. If you choose a vehicle replacement, you may be expected to pay the premium before receiving the new vehicle. In the event of a refund, the amount will be deducted from the refund amount before any active loan obligations are paid. There is a specific formula the manufacturer follows when it calculates the amount of money that they must return to you.
If the lemon law owner chooses one of the mentioned recoveries, he/she should let his/her lemon law attorney know about his/her choice, so that the attorney can propose the option to the manufacturer defendant.
Recovery of “Incidental Damages” Caused by the Malfunctioning Car or Truck
California Lemon law states that the lemon vehicle owner is entitled to compensation for all “incidental damages” that they incurred. Recovery for incidental damages refers to any reasonable amount of money that one may spend as a result of the defective vehicle. Incidental damages for defective vehicles include:
- Reasonable repair, towing and rental car costs actually incurred by the consumer.
- Prepayment penalties, early termination charges and earned finance charges, if actually paid, incurred, or to be incurred by the consumer.
Still, incidental damages do not include lost wages (if you missed work) or compensation for the time you spent dealing with the numerous repairs.
The “Civil Penalty” Recovery Under the California Lemon Law
Under the California lemon law Civil Code Section 1794(c) a lemon car owner is allowed to recover a “civil penalty” payment if he/she is able to prove that the manufacturer willfully violated the California lemon law statute. A “civil penalty” is a payment that is intended to punish the manufacturer for intentionally violating the lemon law. The California lemon law permits the amount of the civil penalty to be up to two times the amount of actual damages. As far as actual damages can include the price the consumer paid for the vehicle, the civil penalty amount can be a very substantial payment.
Lemon law owners cannot apply for civil penalties in every case. If you want to find out whether you qualify for a “civil penalty” payment under the California lemon law, connect the experienced and knowledgeable lemon law attorneys at the Margarian law firm for a free initial consultation.
Recovery for Consumer’s Attorney Fees and Costs
California Lemon Law puts the responsibility of paying attorney fees and costs for lemons on the manufacturer — not the consumer. The manufacturer is obliged to pay the consumer’s legal fees and expenses if he/she wins the case. Lemon law attorneys mainly work on contingency fees, following ‘’no win, no fee’’ theory. This means that lemon car owners do not have to pay any out-of-pocket fees to make a lemon law claim. In this way, pursuing a California Lemon Law claim becomes economically feasible for those who would otherwise not be able to hire an attorney.
The successful outcome of your lemon law case greatly depends on the skills and experience of the lemon law attorney. The skilled and qualified lemon law attorneys at the Margarian law firm know lemon laws inside out. California lemon law is all we do. Thus, we are ready to stand up against big California manufacturers to protect your rights and receive the recovery you are entitled under the California lemon law.