The legal field is full of different personalities. As much as we’d love to tell you that all lawyers are compassionate, kind-hearted people, this is unfortunately not always the case. If this was true, lawyer jokes would be a lot different. As lemon law attorneys in California, we’ve had experience with our fair share of both sub-par lawyers and class acts.
When it comes to lemon law, differentiating the good ones from the bad is easier than you might think. In fact, you can usually get a good sense of this within the first 5-10 minutes of your consultation. It all comes down to what their priorities are.
In this post, I want to discuss four priorities that should be at the top of every lemon law attorney’s list. Let’s dive in.
Consumer justice needs to be the very top priority for a lemon law lawyer. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The lemon law process is all about earning fair compensation for a consumer who was sold a faulty vehicle. When an automaker sells a defective car, they have no intention of taking responsibility for it. This is for a couple of reasons.
For one, it’s costly. If a vehicle is proven to be a lemon, the manufacturer is on the hook for everything ranging from the cost of the vehicle to all the court fees/attorney expenses. Moreover, the manufacturer must take back the car, brand the title as a lemon, and apply a new warranty for the defective condition.
Two, and most importantly, losing a lemon law case reflects poorly on the brand. Auto manufacturers have a global image they have to protect. If it is proven that they sold a defective car, this negatively impacts that image.
With these two reasons in mind, manufacturers will do everything possible to make the buyback (refund) process as difficult as possible.
All of this is at the expense of the unlucky consumer – who did nothing wrong.
Additionally, lemons are pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. Manufacturers know that nearly all consumers in this predicament are in it for the first time. They will use this to their advantage at every turn.
The consumer spends tens of thousands of dollars buying a vehicle. In many cases, this purchase will be the largest purchase for the consumer. Because the manufacturer made a mistake in the building process, that consumer’s life can be interrupted. Maybe they were stranded on the side of the road for hours; maybe they were in an accident; maybe they can no longer work – or all of the above.
Now – to add insult to injury – the manufacturer is dragging out the process for months or, in many cases, intentionally misrepresenting what they are owed under the lemon law.
That said, it should boil the blood of a trustworthy lemon law attorney that automakers do this to consumers. This disregard for customer welfare should make the lawyer fearless in standing up to billion-dollar corporations.
When you shop around for lemon law attorneys in California, they should express a clear, passionate dedication to holding manufacturers accountable for their negligence or willful ignorance, and getting consumers the justice they deserve.
Automakers have no problem dragging a lemon law case out for as long as possible. It makes no difference to them whether or not you have a functional vehicle; they’ve got a reputation and bottom line to protect.
Trustworthy lemon law attorneys in California should have the opposite mindset. Moreover, they should know all the little tricks manufacturers pull to create hiccups in the buyback process.
But beyond compassion for the consumer, why should a trustworthy lemon lawyer prioritize speedy buybacks?
It comes down to compensation.
When you win your case, the manufacturer is required to cover all the legal expenses – including the attorney fees. That said, a good attorney will not ask for a penny out of your pocket – and they won’t take the case unless they think they can win. In other words, they don’t get paid until the case is resolved.
Speedy buybacks are in the best interests of both you and a good lemon law lawyer. Ideally, they will have a goal to resolve the claim as soon as possible.
In a lemon law case, the attorney you hire is the only party who is truly on your side. The manufacturer – and all of its representatives – certainly are not. There are a lot of myths about lemon law lawyers out there; most are fabricated by the defense teams of automakers to dissuade consumers from seeking an attorney. Don’t believe them.
Lemon law attorneys in California should clearly project their dedication to client transparency. Now, it’s very easy for an attorney – regardless of the field they are in – to say they value transparency. Not all of them truly mean it.
The good news is there is a very easy way to gauge this. This is their general attitude in the consultation.
A good attorney does not make bold guarantees, especially in the first couple meetings. Now, it’s easy to gravitate to positive people. But if the lawyer is telling you your case is a slam dunk and guaranteeing X number of dollars in your buyback, this may be a big red flag.
No attorney can guarantee positive results in a case.
Transparency from an attorney means telling you the hard truths early on. In lemon law, this means discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. More importantly, they won’t sugarcoat the fact that earning justice could be a long road with obstacles.
When you look for lemon law attorneys in California, they should give off a cautious – yet optimistic – vibe in the consultation. If they are suspiciously upbeat and telling you everything you want to hear, chances are, they just want to sign you as a client. It’s very possible that you’ll end up with a sub-par cash settlement.
Earning Every Last Penny from the Manufacturer
This one ties directly into the dedication to consumer justice and holding manufacturers accountable. To reiterate, winning a lemon law case means the manufacturer is responsible to reimburse you for EVERYTHING related to the defective vehicle.
In addition to the vehicle and legal fees, the automaker is required to pay for all official costs – like taxes, registration, etc. They are also legally responsible for all the incidental costs. These would include towing expenses, cab fares, hotel stays, rental cars, meals, and anything else you had to pay for out of pocket due to the defective car.
In the initial consultation, trustworthy lemon law attorneys in California will tell you to get proof of every single purchase you made that can be tied to the lemon.
This may seem minor in the grand scheme of things. But this simple piece of advice shows that the attorney genuinely cares about your welfare. The attorney isn’t getting reimbursed for any of your incidental costs.
When you meet with a lawyer, they should bring this up in the consultation – or maybe even before it.
What’s the Move?
Choosing a lawyer is the biggest decision you will make in any civil action. In lemon law, hiring the wrong attorney will only make your unfortunate situation worse. Hopefully, this post has painted a picture of what drives good lemon law attorneys in California.
If you have any questions about the California lemon law process and how your situation factors in, please get in touch with us at Cline APC. We’re happy to clear up any confusion and point you in the right direction to seeking justice.