Important Hawaii Lemon Law Deadlines

Hawaii car customers can seek relief from a defective warrantied vehicle through two separate laws: the Hawaii state lemon law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Both state lemon law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protect consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles, known as “lemons,” and compensate them for their losses. There are certain limitations, however, regarding whom the laws assist and the time period covered. Knowing which law to use when seeking relief can help your case resolve efficiently and fairly.

Consumers in Hawaii must file a state lemon law complaint within one year following the expiration of the lemon law rights period. The lemon law defines this period as the manufacturer’s express warranty term, or two years after the vehicle’s original delivery, or the first 24,000 driven miles; whichever occurs first. For example, if a Hawaii consumer buys a new vehicle with a three-year warranty and it develops a problem one year later, they must file a state lemon law claim within the next year. However, if they have traveled 20,000 miles in that first year, they must file the complaint before traveling another 4,000 miles. Importantly, a Hawaii consumer should seek the assistance of a lemon law attorney to determine the time remaining, if any, to file a Hawaii state lemon law claim and whether it makes good sense to do so in light of the underlying circumstances.

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The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1974 borrows the statute of limitations from the state in which the breach of warranty occurs. In the state of Hawaii, breach of warranty claims follow the Uniform Commercial Code’s four-year statute of limitations. Therefore, the statute of limitations for federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims in Hawaii is four years.

Because Magnuson-Moss is a federal law, it supersedes any state law and can be pursued even if the state lemon law’s technical requirements are not met. Furthermore, the Act provides the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimant’s attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemon law attorneys exist that will only collect attorneys’ fees if they succeed in obtaining a financial recovery for their clients.

Hiring a lawyer to assist in your lemon law case is a prudent decision. Lawyers act as both their client’s guide and advocate within the legal system. The law contains innumerable technicalities and pitfalls that may seem minor to a layperson, but can seriously and adversely affect a lemon law case if ignored. Courts do not go lightly on those who do not understand or follow standard legal rules and procedures.

If you bought a lemon car and cannot get any help from the manufacturer, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lemon law attorney. They have the experience and expertise needed to get you the justice you deserve.

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