Having a car with mechanical issues is a big problem – no matter how you look at it. If you’ve run into continuous issues with a vehicle, you might have a lemon on your hands.

The California lemon law is in place to protect consumers in the case they purchase a vehicle that was not manufactured properly. If any of these issues either diminish the use, value, or safety of a vehicle, the owner can potentially receive full refund or a replacement from the manufacturer.

Each state has their own set of laws and stipulations on matters like warranty length, number of repair attempts required, and the time window in which the owner can file a lemon law claim. If your vehicle meets the criteria, it is best that you file a claim with a lemon law lawyer as soon as possible.

But, as you well know, things are a bit different these days due to COVID-19. Many companies are temporarily shut down and people are being asked to stay at home as much as possible. For many states, including California, court cases are being temporarily postponed and in-person hearings have come to a halt.

So, can you still begin a lemon law claim?

And could COVID-19 hurt your chances of receiving a buy-back or replacement vehicle for your lemon?

Yes, you can still begin a claim. And no, COVID-19 should not hurt your case – even if it slows down the process a bit.

Here’s what you need to know to move forward with your lemon law case in the midst of COVID-19.

1. Reporting Mechanical Issues

One of the first steps to filing a lemon law claim is to make sure you have solid evidence and meet your state’s qualifications. In the state of California:

  • The vehicle must have a defect that impairs its use, value, or safety of the vehicle. It does not have to impair safety. If the value or your use has been impaired, you may still qualify. Little issues like a loose glove box latch probably aren’t going to cut it. But problems with the breaks, engine, or even the windshield wipers or seatbelts can certainly qualify. In today’s cars, many complicated electrical or computer issues definitely qualify. If you have any questions about which issues meet this standard, it is something that a California lemon law lawyer could answer.
  • The vehicle must have first experienced these issues while it was covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. This time frame will vary depending on the state’s regulations and what the manufacturer offers. In California, warranties typically extend for 36,000 miles or 36 months for the bumper to bumper warranty, while many drive-train warranties last up to 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • The vehicle must have first experienced these issues while it was covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. This time frame will vary depending on the state’s regulations and what the manufacturer offers. In California, warranties typically extend for 36,000 miles or 36 months for the bumper to bumper warranty, while many drive-train warranties last up to 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • These repairs must be done by the manufacturer or its local authorized repair facility. Typically, this will mean that you take the vehicle into the dealership for repairs.

Now, you must have ALL the documentation to prove that your vehicle was exhibiting these issues while under warranty. You will need to have receipts and repair orders to begin your claim. Most auto supply and repair shops are considered essential businesses, so they fortunately are still open. However, they may have limited staff.

If you need to receive these documents or you need your vehicle repaired while it is still under warranty, know that during COVID-19, the repair facilities are still open and available for repair appointment. But it is better to do this as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your case.

2. Filing a Lemon Law Case

Once you have your documentation in place, it is time to actually begin your claim. During COVID-19, many courts are shut down completely or have slowed down and are focusing on emergency civil matters or criminal matters. Lemon law cases might not fit this bill.

However, many lemon law cases can be settled out of court – especially if you have a lemon law lawyer handling the process.

There are several approaches you can take. For instance, if there have been numerous complaints of an issue with a specific make and model, there may be a class action suit already in place. Class action lawsuits allow groups of people to file a claim together – usually against an organization or corporation.

While this option offers some benefits, like avoiding expensive legal fees and not being required to testify in court, you could end up with way less money than you are owed. Many of these cases end in a settlement for a set dollar amount for each person. For example, a recent class-action lawsuit against Nissan resulted in a payout of no more than $4,750 on vehicles with transmission issues.

If the owners of these vehicles had filed individual lemon claims, there’s a good chance many of them could have received a full refund for the vehicle or received a replacement.

It is far better to hire an experienced lemon law attorney to file your claim. Plus, in California, the lemon law requires the manufacturer to pay for all of your legal fees if you win the case.

3. Finding a Lemon Law Lawyer

So, where can you find a trustworthy lemon law lawyer to help you?

The first step is to look for an attorney who is specialized within your state.

California lemon law lawyers will know the ins and outs of the state’s laws and be able to tell you upfront whether you have a solid case for your claim. Most law offices are still operating in the state of California since they are deemed essential businesses.

However, it is certainly not ideal to be entering law offices and talking to people face-to-face when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders are in place. Instead, reach out to attorneys who are able to discuss your case and help you virtually. Many attorneys can consult with you over the phone or through a video-conferencing program like Zoom or Skype.

Conclusion

If you have a defective vehicle that’s under warranty, you should never wait to file a lemon law claim against a manufacturer. You are legally obligated to receive compensation if your vehicle meets your state’s specific. Even while we deal with the impact of COVID-19, you can still connect with a lemon law lawyer, gather your documents, and file a claim.

If you would like to receive a free consultation, please reach out to us. We are happy to answer any questions that you have about the process these days.

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