Lemon laws throughout the United States protect consumers who unknowingly purchase defective cars. Almost 150,000 cars sold in America every year leave the factory with repeated, unfixable problems, and these laws help compensate consumers who inadvertently purchase these “lemons.” Every manufacturer builds lemons, including Toyota, Ford, Chrysler and many others. Some lemons may eventually be recalled by the manufacturer, if the problems prove systemic.
Joining state lemon laws in protecting consumers is the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. The federal Act provides protection for consumers who purchase cars that are having problems under the manufacturer’s warranty.
California’s lemon law, the Song-Beverley Consumer Warranty Act, allows for successful plaintiffs to recover attorney’s fees after prevailing in court.
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According to the California Civil Code CIV §1794 Section D, a victorious consumer “shall be allowed by the court to recover as part of the judgment a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended, determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer in connection with the commencement and prosecution of such action.”
In summary, California’s state lemon law allows consumers who win their lemon law case to recover their reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and costs incurred pursuing the case.
Those filing 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 a filed civil lawsuit, it has a number of downsides and rarely resolves favorably for the consumer.
The Magnuson Moss Act, regardless of the state in which a claim is filed, provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimants’ attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemon law attorneys prosecute cases knowing they can recoup their costs after winning in court. This means the consumer doesn’t directly pay out of pocket for legal representation. The Act supersedes any state law and can be pursued even if the state lemon law’s technical requirements are not met.
The legal system is complex and can be nearly impenetrable for the average person. An attorney acts as both their client’s advocate and guide through the legal system, using their knowledge of the law’s technicalities and pitfalls to lead clients to an acceptable resolution.
If your car has problems the manufacturer can’t or won’t fix, reach out to a qualified lemon law attorney at once. They have the experience and expertise needed to get you the justice you deserve.