COVID-19 has changed things for a lot of businesses and organizations all over the country – including the legal system. Courts across the United States have temporarily suspended all in-person hearings and extended court dates until the courts can safely re-open.
While this is certainly frustrating for many people, it is clearly a necessary precaution that is being taken from the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing.
In terms of lemon law, the pandemic has left many people wondering about the status of their cases. Unfortunately, no one can say when the legal system will return to normal. Things are still variable from state to state, depending on the regulations that have been put into place.
So, is now really the best time to begin a lemon law case?
Or should you wait until after COVID-19?
Let’s dive in.
Yes, Now is a Good Time – If You Qualify
When it comes to filing a lemon law claim, the sooner you do it, the better.
There are some time constraints for filing a lemon law case. In California, you must file within four years – according to the lemon law statute of limitations. However, there is some debate on whether this starts the moment the vehicle is purchased or after the first repair attempt or after the last repair attempt or even at the conclusion of the warranty. If you decide to wait, you will certainly want to speak with a good California lemon law lawyer to help you argue your claim.
That being said, it is best to file as soon as possible to avoid these issues. Your vehicle must exhibit a warranty-covered problem(s) that compromises its use, value, or safety. Additionally, in most circumstances, the vehicle must have been subjected to at least two repair attempts by the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility.
If your vehicle meets your state’s criteria as a lemon, it is certainly a good idea to begin your lemon law claim as soon as possible – even during COVID-19.
Find Lemon Law Lawyers Who Work Virtually
If you do decide to file a lemon law claim, it is important that you do so in accordance with your state’s regulations in regards to COVID-19. Some attorney offices may be closed down and many state’s court systems are temporarily closed.
In California, the courts are delaying hearings and extending court case deadlines for the time being. The good news is California lemon law lawyers are still considered to be essential workers – even with the state’s stay-at-home order in place. Therefore, you can still connect with an attorney – but it is best that you do not meet in-person.
Ask a lemon law lawyer if they will connect virtually to discuss your case and file your claim. Thankfully, this is fairly easy to do via email or over the phone, but you can also suggest tools like Zoom or Skype so you can still talk face-to-face without being in the same room.
Collect Virtual Documentation
It is always a good idea to be as prepared as possible during your initial meeting with a lemon law attorney. Brush up on your knowledge of your state’s requirements and be sure that you have an accurate timeline of when you purchased your vehicle, when it was repaired, and what issues the vehicle is presenting.
Documents you may need in order to file a lemon law claim or speak with a lemon law lawyer?
- Proof of your vehicle’s purchase date, odometer readings, and warranty timeframe.
- Warranty claim history to document each issue that was reported to a certified repair facility.
- Receipts of any incidental costs related to the vehicle’s issues. An example could be a bill you received if your vehicle had to be towed to a mechanic.
- Proof that the mechanical issues were unable to be fully repaired by the certified mechanic or they were reoccurring.
This documentation may become essential to your case. It is used to prove that your vehicle is a lemon according to your state’s laws. Having all of these documents ahead of time can help your case to go through as smoothly (and hopefully as quickly) as possible.
To avoid any delays or document exchanges in-person, try to gather as much of the necessary paperwork as possible digitally. If you need to get these documents from the mechanic or dealership, ask that they be sent via email if possible. You can also scan any documents you have and share them with your attorney. It is even possible to take photos on your cell phone and email photos of the documents.
Why should you share these documents digitally?
Two major reasons.
One, it obviously eliminates the need for face-to-face interactions.
Two, a scientific study found that COVID-19 can live on surfaces like paper or cardboard for anywhere between several hours to three full days. The rule of thumb here is “better safe than sorry” – so try to keep all documentation virtual if possible.
A lemon law case timeline can vary based on the individual facts of your situation. Each case is handled on a case by case basis, but some can resolve in as little as 30 to 45 days – or longer if the manufacturer tries to negotiate or argue that your vehicle does not meet lemon law criteria. Since many businesses and aspects of the legal system are currently shut down, it could slow down the process of your case even further. But in many, many, cases the shut down will not slow down your case.
For instance, your lemon law attorney’s office may be set up as a virtual office with staff working from home. The people working for your vehicle’s manufacturer may also be in a similar situation – meaning they will be able to work with your attorney and focus on your case remotely.
A piece of advice here is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You may need to be patient when it comes to the timeline of your case; but being as prepared as possible and partnering with a good lemon law lawyer with the capability to work virtually will definitely speed along the process.
Although COVID-19 has put many of us in unexpected situations, it does not have to suspend your lemon law case. The sooner you begin your claim, the sooner your case can be addressed – and hopefully, the sooner you can receive compensation.
Ready to begin your lemon law claim?
Fill out a free case evaluation and connect with our California lemon law lawyers virtually to discuss your situation and help you file a claim. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any more questions or concerns!