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Missed A Lemon Law Deadline? You Still Have Options

Nov 11, 2020

Lemon laws in each state set out technical requirements and deadlines for bringing a lemon law claim. Meeting these requirements is important to a lemon law claim but failing to meet them is not always fatal to recovery. Sometimes an opportunity is missed because consumers misunderstand the deadlines or are unaware of other options available to them.

State laws set specific time or use limits for a lemon law claim but they are sometimes misunderstood or misapplied by consumers. Some owners who could have had their vehicle fully replaced or refunded misunderstand the limits and never even file a claim. In Pennsylvania, lemon laws state that the vehicle defect should occur within 1 year following the delivery of the vehicle to the purchaser; 12,000 miles of use; or the term of the manufacturer’s warranty. In New Jersey, the law requires that the defect be reported within 2 years from original date of delivery to the purchaser; or 24,000 miles of operation. In California, the applicable law (the Song-Beverly Act) does not define a time period for bringing a lemon law claim but instead extends lemon law rights for the term of the written warranty on the vehicle. If a consumer in these jurisdictions looks only at these limits without knowing when they are applicable, they can mistakenly think that their window for filing a lemon law claim is closed. The time limit for actually filing a lemon law claim is much longer, typically 4 years.

Jurisdictions also differ in what actions or events must happen within the stated time or use limits. Some limits apply to the first occurrence of the defect while some require a repair attempt or notification of the defect. Additional legal mechanisms (presumptions) regarding the number of repair attempts that are reasonable also impose limits and technical requirements, such as notification to the manufacturer. The laws can seem overwhelming but not all of the limits and requirements listed in the legislation will apply to every potential lemon law claim. An attorney experienced in lemon law can identify what is relevant to your individual situation and clarify the path forward for your claim.

Even where a lemon law deadline has been missed, there are often other options for the owner of a lemon. Where a lemon law claim is unavailable, it may be possible to pursue a successful breach of warranty claim against a vehicle manufacturer for a substantial cash settlement. A breach of warranty claim also has the advantages of maintaining the warranty on the vehicle and avoiding title branding (when a vehicle is repurchased under a state’s lemon law.) A good lemon law attorney is experienced in dealing with manufacturers and knows the remedies that are legally and practically on the table when a lemon law claim is no longer an option.

Lemon law deadlines are technical and should be handled with care but they should not be allowed to confuse or overwhelm a consumer who simply wants a functional vehicle or fair compensation. If you think you have purchased a defective vehicle, do not delay in seeking help. Taking prompt action will improve your chances of bringing a successful claim under state lemon laws or other available protections. At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we can help you get the remedy that you are entitled to by law. Contact us via our website for a free case review.

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