What to Expect When You Win a Lemon Lawsuit

What happens when you win a lemon law settlement?

The answer should be fairly simple: a full refund of your purchase price or replacement of the defective vehicle with one that works. But, sometimes the answer is not this straightforward.

The process of arguing a claim under lemon law in California can be extremely stressful and time-consuming. After spending months experiencing the frustrating symptoms of a lemon vehicle, coordinating with a lemon law attorney, and keeping a record of all the documents and communications to and from the mechanic and the dealership, you may be uncertain about what the law says you may recover for your lemon.

As a result, though you may be pleased about winning the lemon lawsuit, you are, in all probability, confused about the subsequent steps and what to expect next.

After taking the time to win your lemon case, here are three things you must know in order to get rightly compensated.

1. You Have a Choice to Accept a Replacement Vehicle or a Refund

The heartening news is that after the successful resolution of your lemon case, you can either have a brand new replacement car or all your money back (commonly referred to as a buyback or a repurchase).

In either case, depending on the ‘mileage attributable to consumer use,’ the manufacturer/dealer may be entitled to an offset for your use of the car under lemon law in California, prior to the first repair visit.

Choosing between a replacement and a refund can be a tough decision to make. However, being aware of the below-mentioned facts will help you make an informed decision.

a. Opting for a Refund

If you have lost confidence in the automaker brand and are looking to buy a car from a different manufacturer, a refund may be a good option. The lemon law buyback calculation involves the full contract price of the car, the collateral costs (sales tax, license fees, title fees, finance charges, interest, dealer add-ons), and incidental damages.

Under lemon law in California, you can potentially receive a refund for a defective used car. As a lemon law lawyer in Los Angeles, we deal with many inquiries for pre-owned lemons. To learn more about this, read our post on the subject.

b. Opting for a Replacement Vehicle

If you are resolute about sticking to the same automaker brand, you can opt for a replacement vehicle. The law does not state that the replacement car has to be of the same make and model.

However, you must ensure that the vehicle is new and within a similar price range (commonly referred to as the MSRP or the total price for the vehicle) as existed at the time of original purchase or the lease. This should include the service contract, the undercoating, the rustproofing and other factory or dealer services.

Moreover, remember that the automaker is responsible for the sales tax and license and registration fees.

Be clear on how the ‘offset for use’ will be calculated in each of the above cases. If you choose a replacement vehicle, you may be expected to pay the premium before receiving the new vehicle. In the case of a refund, the amount will be deducted from the refund amount before any active loan obligations are paid. Thus, if you have a large loan balance or a high mileage, it is possible, although very rare, the refund will not be enough to settle the loan.

However, the regulations for mileage deduction for a vehicle refund or a replacement is different in different states.

For instance, in the state of California, the lemon law assumes that the average lifespan of a vehicle is 120,000 miles and calculates the mileage accordingly. Accordingly, a California lemon law lawyer can ensure that you do not suffer such heavy deductions as depreciation, owing to the consumer-friendly nature of the California lemon law.

Gauging these factors will help you make the most fitting decision.

2. You Are Entitled to Reimbursements of Expenses 

If you win your lemon law lawsuit, you do not need to worry about getting bombarded with the attorney and the court bills – as you are entitled to reimbursement for all these expenses from the car manufacturer as part of the lemon law buyback calculation. Most automakers are familiar with the lemon law process, enabling car owners to get reimbursements and assistance from filing their claim.

Depending on the state laws, if found liable, the automaker must immediately repurchase/replace the vehicle, bear the cost of out-of-pocket repairs, legal expenses, and pay up to an additional two times the amount of the car purchase price (also referred to as civil penalty damage).

Incidental expenses may include all of the out-of-pocket costs borne by the customer as a result of the lemon vehicle. Thus, you may be entitled to receive reimbursements for all the incidental expenses, namely the money spent on towing, rental cars, going to the repair shop, repairing, and lodging, when trying to get the vehicle back on the road.

Tallying up all the incidental costs can be tedious – you’ll need to provide your lemon lawyer in California with ALL the receipts for expenses tied to the defective car.

3. The Refund Should Not Take More Than 30 Days 

Though lemon law differs from state to state, carmakers are given only 30 days to repair or refund/replace the car under lemon law in California. Thereafter, the auto manufacturer must promptly refund or replace the car. If it does not, the manufacturer may face a heavy penalty for violation of the state’s lemon law.

The settlement check timeline in California changes from case to case; but ideally, you should receive your lemon law settlement check soon after you win your claim.

In California, the civil penalty can be in any amount up to approximately two times the consumer’s actual damages. As an example, if the purchase price minus offset for use totals $25,000.00, the civil penalty can be as high as an additional $50,000.00, bringing the total damages available to the consumer to $75,000.00. This is in place to incentivize the manufacturer to issue repayment in a prompt manner.

If you have won a lemon law case, don’t wait for the automaker to give you what you are entitled to receive. Many manufacturers will try to drag the lemon law process for as long as possible.

Contact a lemon lawyer in California who can help you get out of this situation early.

Based on how the automaker has responded to a lemon law case in the past, your attorney can help you settle the claim quickly and for full value.


Lemon lawsuits have the potential of being very complex and stressful without the assistance of experienced legal counsel.

You may be unaware of what happens when you win a lemon law case.

Customers who have suffered the consequences of owning a lemon vehicle and have spent a lot of time, money, and energy dealing with the effects of a lemon car. Consequently, they may be unaware of what to do after winning a lemon case. Therefore, it’s always best to get out of the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The federal and state law offers basic guidelines that can help you determine what to expect once you have proved your case.

If you have won a lemon court case, use the above-mentioned points to educate yourself on your potential damages or hire experienced legal counsel to appropriately value your claim and get you the recovery the law requires.

If you have any questions about lemon law or the process it entails, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a lemon lawyer in California ASAP!

We are always happy to clear up any concerns.

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