8 Things to Know About Lemon Law in Florida
Lemon laws in Florida protect people who buy or lease new vehicles that turn out to be defective.
If your new car or truck has a defect, you bring it to the dealer and expect that they will fix it. When the dealer cannot or will not fix it, or they want to charge you for the repair, you can feel stuck. Most people assume it will be a major hassle and expense to fight a huge automaker, and that they do not have the power to win. That’s exactly why lemon laws were introduced. State lawmakers realized the power imbalance between individual vehicle owners and auto manufacturers, and saw that a defective new vehicle is a major expense and hardship for a consumer. Lemon laws in Florida and other states give individual consumers a straightforward process for bringing a legal claim against an automaker, and make the automaker repair, replace, or refund the price of the vehicle AND pay the consumer’s attorney fees.
Every state has its own lemon laws, and each state is slightly different. These differences affect when you can bring a claim, what kinds of vehicles and problems are covered, and the steps you must follow to bring a valid lemon law claim. It is important that you get the advice of a lemon lawyer who is licensed in your state and knows the details of your individual case to get accurate and reliable legal advice. At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we advise and represent clients across multiple states, including Florida.
1. Florida lemon law does not apply to all vehicles. There are limits in every state on which vehicles are covered by lemon law but personal/household use cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs are always covered. In Florida, some of the vehicles that are NOT covered are:
- Commercial vehicles
- Used vehicles
- Off road vehicles
However, these vehicles may be covered by other laws, including federal consumer protection laws. Contact an attorney to find out how you are protected in your state.
2. Florida lemon law applies to purchased and leased vehicles. Not all state lemon laws apply to leased vehicles but in Florida, they are covered.
3. Florida lemon law covers warranty defects that affect the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Generally lemon law is used for serious problems not just minor issues but many ongoing problems with a new vehicle will be serious enough for a lemon law claim. Florida lemon laws specifically state that they do not cover defects caused by accidents, abuse, neglect, modification, or alteration of the vehicle.
4. In Florida, lemon laws apply to defects in the first 24 months of ownership. The 24 month clock starts ticking when the vehicle is delivered to the owner. Unlike other states, Florida does not consider the vehicle’s mileage when deciding if the vehicle is “new” enough to be eligible for a lemon law claim.
5. The manufacturer has limited repair attempts. You must give the manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle but the law limits the chances that they have:
- After 3 repair attempts for the same problem, you must give the manufacturer written notice of the defect and allow them a final 10 days (45 days for an RV) to respond and repair the vehicle.
- If your problem vehicle is out of service for repair of one or more defects for 15 days or more, you should give the manufacturer written notice and 1 chance to inspect or repair the vehicle.
- In either case, if your vehicle is out of service for repair of one or more defects for at least 30 days (60 days for an RV) and the manufacturer has had written notification of the problem and at least one chance to repair it, you can bring a lemon law claim.
6. You have an additional 60 days to start the lemon law process. The vehicle defect must occur within the first 24 months of ownership but Florida lemon laws give you another 60 days after that to file an arbitration request with the manufacturer’s state-certified program (if they have one) or the Florida Attorney General’s Office (if they do not.) What you need to do and when you need to do it depend on your individual circumstances and get pretty technical at this point so it is best to talk to an attorney to make sure that you are getting the correct information.
7. You can get a replacement vehicle or the purchase price refunded. And you get to choose which you want. Any replacement vehicle must be comparable to the original vehicle that you bought or leased. If you choose a refund, this will be reduced to account for your use of the vehicle.
These are the two remedies written into Florida lemon law but, in many claims, we negotiate a settlement with the manufacturer that is not restricted to these two remedies. For example, cash and keep settlements are very popular when vehicle prices are rising and inventory is low because the owner gets to keep their vehicle AND gets a cash sum. To find out more about cash and keep settlements, check out our blog.
8. The manufacturer pays your legal fees. This is a feature of lemon law across all states. If you win your lemon law claim, the automaker must pay all of your attorney fees. It is specifically written into the lemon laws so that consumers are protected from the financial risks of bringing a claim against a huge automaker.
At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we will not send you a bill for our fees whether you win or lose. We only take on cases that we think we can win and if we do not, that’s on us. And if we negotiate a settlement for you, which we do in the majority of our cases, we ensure that it covers your legal fees. Currently, we are settling most cases within 30-90 days for our clients.
If you are having problems with your recently purchased or leased vehicle, you may be entitled to bring a lemon law claim. Contact us at Timothy Abeel & Associates online or by calling 888-830-1474 to find out how we can help at no cost to you.