What can I get under the Lemon Law?
If your vehicle fails to meet the manufacturer’s warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, then it is a “lemon” and you are entitled to a refund or a replacement vehicle. If it is determined that your vehicle is not a lemon, you may be entitled to receive thousands of dollars in cash compensation to settle your claim.
*This Does Not Constitute A Guarantee, Warranty, Or Prediction Regarding The Outcome of Your Legal Matter
In California, the lemon laws apply to new or used, purchased or leased vehicles that are sold with a written warranty.
If you qualify for lemon law protection, the following remedies may be available to you:
Refund / Lemon Buyback
If you purchased/ leased your vehicle and it is a “lemon,” your refund will consist of the following:
- Monthly payments and down payment; This includes payments being made to a lien holder if the vehicle has been financed or payments made under a Lease if the vehicle has been leased.
- Collateral charges related to the purchase/ lease of the vehicle. Which could include sales tax, finance charges, and prorated registration.
- Incidental and consequential expenses that are related to the lemon, which include rental car expenses, tow expenses, and
- Payment of your loan balance or Payment of any remaining lease obligations.
* If you are not the original owner of the vehicle, your refund will be based on your purchase price, not the original owner’s purchase price.
If your vehicle is a “lemon” and you get a replacement vehicle, whether it was purchased or leased, the replacement vehicle must:
- Be substantially identical to your vehicle as it existed at the time you purchased or leased it;
- Include the same service contract, if applicable;
- Include any undercoating, rustproofing or other factory/dealer options that came with the original vehicle; and
- Reimburse you any incidental and consequential expenses that are related to the lemon, which include rental car or tow expenses.
* The manufacturer is responsible for any sales tax, license and registration fees for the replacement vehicle. The balance of your finance or lease term will remain with the replacement vehicle. Before receiving the replacement, it is advised that you contact your lender to learn how they will deal with your existing loan or lease as you may need to make a new loan with different terms. You will be responsible for any difference in price between the original and replacement vehicle.
If your vehicle is a “lemon” and you get a refund or replacement, the manufacturer is entitled to receive a credit on the total refund for the duration of the time you drove your vehicle without having the problems. The mileage offset is calculated by dividing 120,000 (this number has been set by the statute as the average of life expectancy of a vehicle) by the mileage at the first warranty repair attempt for the defect that rendered your vehicle a lemon and then multiplying that number by the purchase price.
Visit the “Approximate Refund Calculator” to see what this amount could look like.
For example: Mary purchased a new vehicle for $30,000 cash from Megabrand Car Dealer. At 10,000 miles, Mary starts to feel as though the transmission of the vehicle is jerking and hesitating. She takes the vehicle in to the dealer and the dealer does a warranty repair for Mary. Subsequently, in the next few years, Mary continues to take her vehicle in an “X” amount of times for similar or related issues. In the event Mary gets her vehicle repurchased under CA Lemon Laws, the following formula would reflect her recovery.
- Price paid by consumer for the vehicle = $30,000
- Miles driven by consumer at first repair attempt = 10,000 miles
- 10,000 (miles at first repair attempt for defect at issue) / 120,000 (average life expectancy of the vehicle) = .083 X $30,000 (Purchase Price of vehicle)= $2,500
In this case, the mileage offset would be $2,500. Thus, this amount would be deducted from the total amount Mary has paid on the vehicle. Mary’s recovery would then look as follows: $30,000 – $2,5000 (Mileage Offset) = $27,500 to Mary and the attorneys’ fees and costs will be paid separately by the manufacturer. Additionally, Mary would also be entitled to the “collateral” and “incidental” damages, explained above.
In the event the manufacturer does not offer to repurchase your vehicle under California Lemon Laws, you may still be entitled to cash compensation for the claim. Many times the problems with a vehicle may not rise to the level of a “substantial impairment.” In these situations, the manufacturer will often pay the consumer a “cash and keep” settlement. This is where you will keep your vehicle and receive a sum of money for the problems you experienced in exchange to dismiss the lawsuit. This settlement remains confidential between the parties and the remaining portion of the warranty will still be honored by the manufacturer.
In addition to the monetary recovery one would receive under a Lemon Law Buyback, California lemon law permits a consumer whose car or truck was deemed to be defective to also recover a “civil penalty” payment if the consumer can prove that the manufacturer willfully violated the California lemon law statute. A civil penalty remedy could be added on to the total amount of your refund as “bonus money” to punish the manufacturer for their actions/inactions. The California lemon law statute permits the amount of the civil penalty to be up to two times the amount of actual damages. Since actual damages can include the price the consumer paid for the vehicle, the civil penalty amount can be a very substantial recovery.
So how does the consumer prove that the manufacturer “willfully” violated the California lemon law? The answer is not always clear with respect to what is and what is not “willful”. Most Lemon Law firms do not bother seeking this type of remedy either because they don’t know about it or they don’t know how to fight to get it. The attorneys at Benchmark Legal have successfully recovered this type of remedy for their clients before and will advise you during litigation if they think this type of remedy is warranted for you.
If you would like to find out whether you qualify to receive a “civil penalty” payment under the California lemon law, call Benchmark Legal LLP today for a free evaluation of your claim at (888) 9-VEHICLE or (888) 983- 4425 or fill out our contact form.
Attorneys Fees and Costs
When Benchmark Legal, LLP has retained you as our client, you will not come out of pocket to pay any legal fees. We use the state and federal lemon laws to require the manufacturers to pay your attorneys’ fees and costs. Representation with a lemon law claim is aimed to help your financial situation not put you in a worst one. Win or lose, you will never get a bill from us!
If you have questions, concerns, or have a vehicle that you think may be a lemon, contact the experienced Lemon Law firm of Benchmark Legal, LLP to get answers immediately.
Call Benchmark Legal LLP today for a free evaluation of your claim at (888) 9-VEHICLE or (888) 983- 4425 or fill out our contact form.