COVID-19 has put a lot of people’s lives seemingly “on hold” for the foreseeable future. If you are in the middle of a lemon law claim or are considering beginning one, you may be wondering how COVID-19 could impact your outcome.
No one knows when things will return to normal – but that does not necessarily mean that you should avoid pursuing a lemon law case against a manufacturer as soon as possible.
Some states do have a statute of limitations in place that prevents buyers from filing a lemon law case after their manufacturer’s warranty is expired. Therefore, if your vehicle meets the criteria and is still under warranty, it is best to begin your case sooner rather than later.
However, you should be prepared for how the process might change due to COVID-19.
1. There May Be Delays
The legal system is unfortunately not immune to the impact of COVID-19. Some states have postponed all court cases until further notice. In California specifically, the Supreme Court approved emergency rules for court operations, stopping all scheduled in-person hearings and extending court dates for many cases.
Now, this does not necessarily impact lemon law cases. A California lemon law lawyer can begin your claim with the manufacturer and negotiate with them directly. Many of these cases resolve outside of the court – unless the manufacturer refuses to reimburse the owner of the vehicle.
Even with the fact that employees are working from home and some offices are shut down altogether, the lemon law process has continued as normal in many respects. This means that it might not take any longer before your lawyer hears back from the manufacturer and any reimbursement of payments are put through.
2. You Can Contact Attorneys Virtually
It is always best to hire an experienced lemon law attorney when filing a case rather than trying to do it on your own. Every state has its own set of laws in place, and the process can be extremely confusing and time-consuming to the untrained eye. Plus, if you make any mistakes, you could lose a lot of money or even get into legal trouble yourself.
In order to practice safe social distancing, it is not recommended that you physically go into a law office and speak with an attorney. In many states, law offices are shut down in accordance to COVID-19 safety precautions. But thankfully, this doesn’t mean that you cannot reach a lemon law lawyer during this time.
You can still contact California Lemon Law Lawyers safely by giving us a call or scheduling a free case evaluation online. We are lucky enough to be living in an age where we can access technology to make virtual meetings and communication quite easy.
We can easily discuss your case and file a claim without meeting in-person.
3. Make Sure You Have All Documentation
The key piece of evidence in a lemon law case is proof of a defect in a vehicle that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The number of repairs ranges from state to state, but typically it must be within a “reasonable” number.
For California, this is normally considered to be no fewer than two attempts (there are exceptions to this rule, so ask a lemon law lawyer if you have questions). Or, it has been out of commission for repairs for 30 days or more.
In order to prove your vehicle meets the criteria, you will need proof of your repair attempts from an authorized repair facility, typically your local dealership. If you do not have copies or your repair orders, you may need to obtain the paperwork from your dealership. Thankfully, auto repair shops are considered to be essential businesses, and most are still up and running.
Again, be mindful that the best and quickest way to obtain this paperwork is via email. It could take you a bit longer if you have to schedule an appointment and drive into the dealership, given social distancing rules and stay at home orders.
4. Be Ready for Negotiations
Once you have your paperwork in place and your lemon law lawyer begins the claim, get ready to sit back and let your lawyer do the heavy lifting. Most manufacturers will not just fork over thousands of dollars easily – even if you purchased a verified lemon.
Legally, you have the right to receive a full refund for the cost of your vehicle – or receive an equivalent replacement if you purchased a lemon. However, some manufacturers will try to negotiate a lesser sum or suggest that you seek out lemon law arbitration to avoid going to court.
These days, they might even try to use COVID-19 to persuade you – citing long delays in the court systems
This is usually the manufacturer’s attempt to get out of paying back your money – pandemic or not. Lemon law arbitration means that your case is shown to one arbitrator – who is typically sponsored by the manufacturer. Chances are, they will probably not side in your favor. More importantly, if you lose during arbitration and wish to bring the case before a judge, the manufacturer can use the arbitrator’s decision against you in court. This will likely ruin your case.
It is important to note, you are not required to do arbitration in the state of California and you have every right to take your lemon law attorney with you to court. Don’t fall into the trap of negotiating a lower payout or other options if you have a solid case. Be patient and let the legal system work in your favor.
COVID-19 has certainly seemed to change the way that the world works in just a matter of a few weeks. But this does not mean that it needs to throw a wrench in your lemon law case. Things don’t even necessarily need to take longer. With a good California lemon law lawyer on your side, you can still file a claim and receive rightful compensation.
If you have any questions about filing a lemon law case, please reach out to our qualified attorneys. We are here to help you!