There are many false and misleading myths about lemon law attorneys who represent consumers. Most are nothing more than ad campaigns bought and paid for by the major auto manufacturers and car dealerships disguised as legitimate news stories. While we can’t sit here and tell you that every single California lemon law lawyer is perfect, we’ll tell you that a lot of the negative sentiment out there is simply not true.
Unlike many other types of lawyers, our opponents are paid for by some of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful companies in the world – auto manufacturers. In other words, your lawyers go up against the most expensive legal defense teams money can buy. Moreover, consumers who are faced with a lemon are almost always experiencing the process for the very first time.
Without a specialized lemon law attorney on their side, it’s incredibly easy for the manufacturer to take advantage of the consumer and avoid providing a buyback (refund). That is why the manufacturers and dealership lobby discourage unknowing consumers to steer clear of lemon law lawyers.
As a result, we’ve seen all kinds of content published online spreading misinformation about lemon law attorneys. In this post, we want to debunk three of the bigger blatant lies we’ve seen.
They Will Unnecessarily Delay the Legal Process
Under California lemon law, if the consumer wins the case, the manufacturer is required to cover ALL legal and attorney fees. Due to this, we’ve seen content – produced by the legal teams of automakers – claiming that lemon lawyers will commonly drag their feet to rack up legal fees.
Keep in mind, (trustworthy) lemon law lawyers do not get paid until the case is over – and they’ve won. The most important thing a lemon attorney can provide is a speedy buyback. The faster the consumer is out of the defective vehicle, the faster your attorney will be reimbursed for legal services rendered. In addition, if a law firm earns a reputation for dragging their feet, it’s only a matter of time until they are out of business. Basically, doing this is career suicide – and no lemon law lawyer wants this.
The truth is quite the opposite.
Manufacturers know how inconvenient it is for consumers to have a defective vehicle. They also know the giant auto manufacturers have more financial resources than consumer lawyers. In addition, defense attorneys working for the big corporations get paid every 30 days whether they win or lose–they get paid “no matter what.” It is the car companies and their legal defense teams that have ZERO incentive to resolve a case quickly. Instead, it is the consumer and the consumer’s legal team that do. A global auto brand can certainly manage delays in the legal process better than even the most patient of consumers.
Because of this, without a skilled lemon law attorney on your side the manufacturers almost always create hiccups and obstacles to prolong the process in hopes the consumer will settle for a sub-par buy back offer, low cash settlement – or give up entirely.
The bottom line: Lemon law attorneys (like any other type of attorney) need a good reputation to stay in business. Providing speedy buybacks is the best way to do this. Delaying the buyback process is not in their best long-term interests.
When you are researching California lemon law lawyers, it should be clear that speedy buybacks are their top priority. They should aim to resolve cases quickly.
Arbitrators are the Smarter Option
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I do a lot to dissuade consumers from choosing arbitration.
When a consumer’s vehicle meets the state’s requirement of a lemon, the manufacturer will almost always try to convince them to resolve their case with arbitrators outside the court system.
They will commonly say that arbitration is the “smarter” option because lemon claims can be resolved in a matter of days. When you go to the court system to resolve your case, the process can take months. Additionally, the manufacturer pays for the entire arbitration process.
Sounds like a sweet deal, right?
It’s not! The manufacturers are leaving out some VERY important details.
For one, arbitrators are usually paid entirely by the manufacturer. That said, they may be biased in the process. Two, the consumer will almost always be offered a small cash settlement, much less than a full buyback. Three, the arbitrator’s potentially biased ruling cannot be appealed.
The bottom line: do not under any circumstance opt for arbitration. Arbitrators are never on your side and have no problem ruling against you – no matter how solid your claim is. Once you’ve determined your vehicle is a lemon, the manufacturer is your legal opponent. Early in my career I received really good advice; if the manufacturer really wants you to do something, do the opposite. The reason is simple–whatever the manufacturer is suggesting is good for it, but bad for you.
Use the court system your tax dollars fund and start searching for California lemon law lawyers. A jury of twelve peers from your community is much better than one arbitrator, paid by the manufacturer, likely to have more in common with the big corporate defendant than you and your experiences. Always remember, in a lemon law case, your attorney is the only one who is truly on your side.
Their Gains Commonly Override Clients’ Best Interests
A big myth we’ve been seeing lately is that lemon law attorneys are known for “fee-shifting”.
Fee shifting refers to when an attorney signs on as many clients as they can and do everything to push the case to trial. Once a case goes to trial, they will assign it to a trial law firm. These “trial” firms are usually just another lemon law practice they contract. When they do this, two firms get billed – and the firm that originally signed the client takes a cut.
Manufacturers claim that this “fee-shifting” tactic means the consumer might end up paying two lemon law firms.
Additionally, the firm might raise their rates to recover higher fees between them and the “trial” firm they contract. This cost would then be passed to the consumer.
This is completely untrue and has no ties to reality whatsoever.
First off, it’s extremely rare for a lemon law case to go to trial. Second, when a manufacturer threatens to take the case to trial, it’s almost always another tactic to prolong the case even further – in hopes the consumer will give up.
The bottom line: It’s common practice for good law firms to hire a skilled trial team in their corner. In fact, the manufacturers do the same thing. Sometimes a manufacturer will have three to four different law firms handling a case, one firm before the case is started, another when the case is filed, then another if the matter goes to trial. However, the chances of a lemon law case going to trial are very, very low. If a manufacturer tries to tell you your lemon law attorney might use a “fee-shifting” tactic, this is more than likely a last-ditch attempt to dissuade you from hiring a professional. Don’t fall for it.
The Next Step
You’d be surprised at the lengths manufacturers will go to steer consumers away from lemon law attorneys. At the end of the day, they know that specialized lawyers are the only ones capable of holding them accountable for faulty manufacturing.
To reiterate, the lawyer you hire is the only party in your corner.
As soon as you have even a slight hunch your vehicle is a lemon, don’t even bother talking to the manufacturer anymore. Automakers will tell you all sorts of lies to avoid accountability. Hire an attorney and let them handle it. Your attorney will know all the tricks and obstacles they keep up their sleeves – and they will fight to ensure you receive full compensation.
Do you have any questions about CA lemon law?
Get in touch with Cline APC’s California lemon law lawyers today. We’re happy to provide any guidance and steer you in the right direction.