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.
Illinois’ lemon law, the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act, does not allow consumers to get attorney fees who sue manufacturers.
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Nowhere in the Illinois law’s text allows consumers to recoup attorney’s fees, either in arbitration or elsewhere. The nonprofit Center for Auto Safety called the Illinois Lemon Law one of the most unfair lemon laws for American consumers.
“Illinois’ lemon law is so bad no consumer will use it,” the Center wrote in a 2002 letter to then State Attorney General Jim Ryan. “It does not provide for attorney fees to a consumer who has to sue a manufacturer.”
Those filing a complaint using Illinois’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 several 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.