The best way to set yourself up to prevail in your lemon case in California is to hire an experienced and knowledgeable California lemon law attorney – there’s no way around this.
Many car manufacturers can be quite difficult to negotiate with when it comes to the lemon law. Some manufacturers are notorious for being incredibly tough to work with, and they will often fight you at every step to try to find holes in your claim that can get it out of paying you the mandated value for your claim.
Finding a good, trustworthy lemon lawyer in California is easier said than done. If you look for one through a search engine, you will see there are plenty of attorneys willing to take on your case. But hiring the wrong lawyer could hurt your chances of winning – especially if they fail to file your paperwork correctly or aren’t fully versed in the state’s lemon law.
So, how can you be sure you hire a reliable and reputable lawyer to handle your case?
Be Sure They Are Specialized in Your State’s Lemon Law
First and foremost, you need to find a lawyer who focuses on the lemon law for your specific state. The laws vary quite a bit from state-to-state – and California has its own set of rules. For instance, some states do not have protection for used vehicles under lemon law, but California does. The number of repair attempts needed and the timelines for lemon law presumption also changes from state-to-state, along with numerous other details.
You might have a general practice lawyer tell you they can handle your claim no problem. But chances are, they just lack even the basic knowledge of the state’s lemon law. An experienced California lemon law lawyer has a thorough understanding of the “ins-and-outs” of the lemon law process – as well as how to best negotiate with the legal teams of the big automakers.
Hiring a lemon law attorney – as opposed to a general practice lawyer – will help to move your case along quicker and more efficiently. A general practice attorney may have numerous types of cases to handle which require their attention and focus. Lemon law attorneys work on similar cases – so essentially, they know the drill and exactly what needs to happen to move on to the next step.
Study Up on the Basics Yourself
While it is certainly your lawyer’s job to understand the intricacies of the lemon law, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of it yourself. You will want to know the meaning behind the terminology so you can help your lawyer with the claim and know what information is most important.
For example, one of the first things the lemon law attorney will need to know is whether or not the vehicle meets the state’s specific requirements. In California, a vehicle must:
- Present substantial defects which impairs the use, value, or safety of a vehicle.
- Undergo a reasonable number of repair attempts for the defect – generally this is considered to be at least two attempts.
- Be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty when these issues occur.
- The defect or defects are a result of faulty manufacturing and not driver abuse.
Before you consult with any lemon law attorney, you should double check to see that your vehicle meets the requirements – and more importantly, you have the paperwork to back it up. Most lawyers will not take your case until they have this information.
Now, if your vehicle does not meet California’s lemon law requirements to a tee, you may still be able to file a claim for specific circumstances. This is why you need to have all your documentation in order.
Look at the Reviews and Past Cases
Once you find several lemon law lawyers you might be interested in hiring, it is time to do some research. First and foremost, you will want to check up on review sites to see what rating the specific attorney or the law practice has.
Beware – many attorneys will publish reviews on their own website, but they are often cherry picked so only the best reviews get published. You cannot always rely on the first reviews that pop up. Be sure to check out all of their Google, Facebook, Yelp, or any other Google-licensed review profile to find honest ratings and reviews from verified former clients.
It is best to look at websites that verify reviews and do not allow businesses to delete, remove, or repress negative feedback. Some good review sites for lawyers include:
You will also want to check and see what cases each lemon law attorney has won in the past. It could be particularly useful if they have already filed and won a case against the same manufacturer as your vehicle. Some lawyers will publish their case history online from their practice’s website. For others, you may have to research them yourself and find news articles or court case publications.
Plan Out Your Questions
Consider your first meeting with a lemon law lawyer to be a bit like a job interview. After all, you are hiring them to work for you. You should come prepared with a set of questions that you want them to answer to get a better idea of their qualifications and whether or not they seem to be a good fit.
First, ask them about their experience in the lemon law and their past cases. How many years have they been practicing in California lemon law specifically? Have they worked with this manufacturer in the past?
You should also ask about their approach to resolving lemon law cases, particularly when working with a complex case or difficult manufacturer. Some lawyers will want to take the case right to court, while others are willing to negotiate with the manufacturer on their own.
Another important question to ask is in relation to the turnaround time. A good lemon law lawyer is committed to speedy buybacks – and will aim to close your case in roughly a month depending on its complexity.
As the lawyer answers the questions, notice the tone in their answers. Generally speaking, they should be cautiously optimistic. If they are giving you bold guarantees in the initial consultation and telling you exactly what you want to hear, it’s a big red flag.
Don’t Worry About the Rates
Everyone knows that hiring a lawyer is extremely expensive – and of course, a good lawyer will charge a higher rate than others. Keep in mind, the manufacturer will be required to cover all of the legal costs if you win the case. Moreover, a good California lemon law lawyer won’t take your case unless they think they can win.
However, you should not hire a lawyer who requires money upfront.
This is another red flag – as all legal fees are supposed to be paid by the manufacturer once it’s all said and done. Trustworthy lemon law lawyers understand that you are in this situation through no fault of your own. Therefore, they won’t demand out-of-pocket costs or retainer fees to take your case.
Having a great lawyer makes all the difference in your lemon law case – and is crucial to receiving the maximum payout amount in the shortest time frame. You need to have an attorney you can trust to give you an honest opinion regarding your case and is dedicated to consumer justice.
If you have questions regarding your lemon law claim, please reach out to Cline APC. We offer a free case evaluation from the owner of the office to get you started.