Illinois car customers can seek relief from a defective warrantied vehicle through two separate laws: the Illinois state lemon law (the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act), and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Both state lemon laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act help 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 Illinois must file a state lemon law complaint within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer. For example, if a consumer buys a new, warrantied vehicle and it develops an issue covered under warranty one year later, the consumer has six months to report the problem to their dealership. Importantly, an Illinois consumer should seek the assistance of a lemon law attorney to determine the time remaining, if any, to file an Illinois state lemon law claim, and whether it makes good sense to do so in light of the underlying circumstances.
Those initiating a complaint using the state’s lemon law must undergo arbitration before the law’s repurchase or replacement provisions apply. While arbitration can be faster and less formal than filing a civil lawsuit, it has a number of downsides and rarely resolves favorably for the consumer.
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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 Illinois, the statute of limitations for breach of warranty claims is four years. Therefore, the statute of limitations for federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims in Illinois 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 that 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.