The potential scenarios that can play out with a defective vehicle are practically endless. As a lemon law lawyer in California, we’ve seen just about every situation imaginable. In this post, we want to make the distinction between what constitutes a lemon law claim and a product liability claim.
Both deal with vehicles that exhibit defects caused by faulty manufacturing practices. However, the circumstances and paths to earning justice are a bit different.
Now, before we get into it, I want to start by saying the resolutions are rarely “cut and dry.” In most lemon law or product liability cases, one of the first things the automaker will do is try to claim the defect was caused by driver abuse.
In relation to California’s lemon law, a vehicle cannot be deemed a lemon if it is proven that the defect was a result of driver abuse.
What is Driver Abuse?
Driver abuse is any action the driver took to cause the defect in the vehicle. This could be harsh braking or accelerating, driving the car off-road, excessive speed, reckless driving, or getting into an accident.
However, in some scenarios, a manufacturer defect can result in some actions that may fall under the broad umbrella of “driver abuse”. Maybe defective brakes or a sticky accelerator caused the accident. Or, perhaps faulty steering resulted in your vehicle veering off the road.
Whether it’s a lemon claim or product liability, you will need to prove the issue was not a result of driver abuse.
Lemon Law vs Product Liability
Lemon law and product liability are closely related, but there are vastly different circumstances that play into them.
- Product Liability
Product liability mainly comes into play when a manufacturer defect contributes to an accident. These laws provide rights to drivers and establish a legal process to recover damages inflicted by the defect. The damages would cover the costs related to the vehicle – and more importantly, the injuries sustained.
These injuries would commonly include brain trauma, spinal cord damage, burns, broken bones, internal damages, or anything else life-threatening or potentially fatal.
- Lemon Law
Like product liability, lemon law is based in defective manufacturing practices. Lemon law claims generally do not involve serious accidents.
The law requires manufacturers and sellers to repair the vehicle’s defective component. For a vehicle to be a lemon, you must prove that the manufacturer was unable to repair the defect(s) in a reasonable number of repair attempts.
Product liability and lemon laws have several things in common. For one, they both work to hold the manufacturer responsible for selling faulty products. Second, both can be invalidated if it is proven the defect(s) was a result of driver abuse.
Keep in mind, manufacturers will go to any and all lengths to avoid taking responsibility for flawed construction practices – regardless of the circumstances. Not only are attorney fees, court costs, and consumer reimbursements costly; admitting to mistakes in the manufacturing process compromises their reputation.
How Do Product Liability Claims Work?
Product liability claims typically come into play when there has been an accident. These are not usually handled by lemon law lawyers – they are commonly managed by personal injury lawyers.
To file a claim, you need to have solid proof that the product was unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. Moreover, you must be able to prove that the defect caused or contributed to your accident and the damages occurred as a result of the accident.
When it comes to making a product liability claim, you will need:
- Witness statements
- Photographs or videos
- Financial statements
- Medical records
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident – which was a result of a defective vehicle – get in touch with a personal injury lawyer right away.
How Do Lemon Law Claims Work?
The process of filing a lemon law claim in California is not quite as daunting as a product liability claim. Life-threatening injuries are not usually part of the package.
The biggest difference between a product liability claim compared to a lemon law claim is the manufacturer gets several opportunities to remedy the issue. With a lemon claim, there needs to be evidence that the vehicle is experiencing a pattern of nonconforming issues. Additionally, you must show that the manufacturer was not able to repair the problem. In a product liability claim, the damage has been done.
A vehicle generally qualifies as a lemon in California if:
- The manufacturer has made two or more attempts to fix a warranty-covered defect that impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
- The vehicle has been out of service for repairs for more than 30 days, regardless of the number of repair attempts.
- The vehicle has several issues (covered under the warranty), of which were not caused by driver abuse.
How do I file a lemon law claim?
Once you can prove that your vehicle meets the criteria listed above, your next step is to get in touch with a lemon law lawyer in California.
You will need the following documents to support your lemon law claim:
- Copy of the purchase agreement – or lease agreement
- Copy of the warranty
- Closed repair orders from the manufacturer-certified facility
- Receipts for any incidental costs related to the lemon.
Filing a lemon law claim or a product liability should not cost you anything out of pocket.
At Cline APC, we believe consumers should never have to pay the mistakes of a big name manufacturer. We don’t charge clients any retainer or contingency fees upfront. Once we win the case, we’ll collect our fees obtaining a buy-back from the manufacturer.
No one wants to end up in a situation where they need to file a lemon law claim or a product liability claim. The good news is you are entitled to benefits.
Chances are, you’ve never dealt with a lemon or product liability case. Manufacturers know this and will do everything possible to use it to their advantage.
No matter what the circumstances are, your path to earning compensation will almost certainly be blocked by the automaker claiming the defect was a result of driver abuse. This is why you need an expert attorney on your site to help guide you through the process.
If you need a lemon law lawyer in California, we are here for you.
If you need a personal injury lawyer for your product liability claim, we can help point you in the right direction.