Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, many courtrooms have temporarily shut their doors. This leaves people wondering about the status of their claims and cases – and unfortunately, no one knows yet when things are going to return to normal.
Because of the stay-at-home order in place in California, most court cases are temporarily postponed and many in-person hearings are not taking place. This is obviously quite frustrating to anyone who is in the middle of a case. It seems like nothing will be able to move forward for quite a while.
Thankfully, if you have filed a lemon law claim or are considering doing so in the state of California, you can still proceed with your case. There is plenty that can be done without having to meet in-person, and much of the process can even be handled outside of the courtroom.
Here are some things you can do to move your lemon law claim along and receive sound legal advice – even in the midst of COVID-19.
Do Online Research
While you certainly don’t need to know everything about the California lemon law to win your case, it is best that you are somewhat knowledgeable about your state’s laws and the process itself. This can help a lot in speeding up the process – not to mention make life easier for your attorney.
Legal blogs are a great starting point. These normally explain lemon law in layman’s terms so you can get a general understanding of the qualifications and process. It is best that you are prepared for what to expect. Also, double check that your vehicle qualifies as a lemon before reaching out to an attorney, but don’t hesitate to contact a lemon law lawyer if you are uncertain.
In the state of California:
- In many cases, your vehicle needs to have a defect or defects that impair its use, value, or safety. It is important to note, you don’t need all three criteria, only one is necessary.
- Your vehicle must exhibit these defects for the first time while it is still under a warranty.
- The defects were not a result of driver abuse.
- The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days while getting repaired.
- Depending on the nature of the problem, you usually must give the manufacturer, through your local dealership or authorized repair facility at least two repair attempts.
You should have a basic understanding of your options when it comes to lemon law.
You may see class action lawsuits for which you may file. A few things to remember on these topics. First, these essentially bring together large groups of consumers who are filing a lawsuit against a larger corporation. The payout will be much lower than what you could receive with an individual lemon law claim. The class action lawsuits do not allow for a full refund or replacement vehicle, the California lemon law requires it. Second, the courts handling these class action lawsuits are closed and will likely not move forward while the courts are closed. A lemon law claim, other hand, can move forward outside of court intervention.
Another common “trap” that many consumers fall into with lemon law is agreeing to arbitration. Manufacturers will commonly suggest this as a quick option to avoid going to court – as the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators instead of a judge. These “arbitrators” are usually sponsored by the manufacturer and will most likely rule in their favor – not yours. More importantly, if you lose at arbitration and wish to appeal to the courts, the manufacturer will be able to use that arbitrator’s decision against you in court. This will severely hamper your case.
If you reach out to a manufacturer these days, they might encourage arbitration as courtrooms are closed for COVID-19. Don’t take the bait.
The best option is to hire competent California lemon law lawyers to help you file a claim. This is your most reliable chance for receiving full compensation or a replacement for your vehicle.
Reach Out Virtually to Attorneys
Once you are ready to find an attorney, it is best that you talk with one online – rather than going around to offices in-person. You do not need to put yourself or others in danger by meeting when it is not absolutely necessary. Plus, due to COVID-19, some law offices are temporarily closed.
The good news is that many lemon law attorneys are able to offer you legal advice and discuss your case virtually. Many lawyers are available over the phone, or you can talk through Skype or Zoom if you prefer more face-to-face conversations.
File Case and Documentation Online
You do not need to hand in physical documentation for your lemon law claim – it can all be submitted online. This not only makes it easier to do, but it is also safer given the current circumstances.
Depending on your manufacturer/dealership’s mode of operations, you can sometimes access the documents you need through an online portal. This would include your warranty claim history and repair reports from the mechanic.
If you cannot access these online, you may have to reach out to your dealership and ask them to email them to you. Most dealerships and repair facilities are still open as they are deemed essential businesses – they send you necessary documentation electronically.
Requesting digital copies of your documents will help to speed up this process.
Let Your Lawyer Do the Talking
If you are in the midst of filing a lemon law claim, there is no need to worry.
Lemon law cases can often be handled outside of the courtroom. California lemon law lawyers can work with manufacturers directly – so long as your vehicle qualifies under the state’s regulations.
Once you have compiled all of your documents and shared them with your attorney, you can sit back and relax for a bit. Your lemon law lawyer will handle negotiations and fight for compensation. This is often done over the phone or through other virtual communication channels.
Even if the manufacturer refuses to pay or only agrees to pay a lower sum than what you are owed for your lemon law claim, there still may be no need to use the courts. In this case, mediation or other litigation techniques can move your case to a successful resolution without having to take the case to a judge. Fortunately, while we wait until COVID-19 passes your lemon law claim doesn’t have to wait.
COVID-19 is certainly throwing a wrench into a lot of plans – and it is quite a frustrating situation to be in. But thankfully, the coronavirus does not need to stop you from filing a lemon law claim or receiving compensation from the manufacturer. You can still get sound legal counsel and pursue your case!
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your case virtually with our California lemon law lawyers, please reach out to us today.