What Documents Do I Need for A Lemon Law Claim?
Any legal claim, including a lemon law claim, is stronger when backed up with evidence. Below is a list of the most relevant documents in a lemon law claim. The more of these that you can produce, the easier it will be to succeed in your lemon law claim, or a claim for breach of warranty or under another consumer protection law.
You do not need everything on this list to bring a successful lemon law claim. Few people have all of these documents, and many documents can be recovered in other ways. If you do have any of these documents, it is a good idea to start keeping them together in a file in case you need them.
1. Original Purchase or Lease Documents
Your original purchase or lease contract is probably the first document that your attorney will request. It will set out the date you purchased the vehicle, the price (including any rebates or trade-in information), and any aftermarket items added. If you financed your purchase, you should also have the financing documents for your auto loan. If you have lost any of these documents, you can ask the dealer for a copy.
2. Manufacturer’s Warranty
The manufacturer’s warranty will usually be included with the owner’s manual given to you when you purchased your vehicle. It contains the express warranty from the manufacturer, including the details of what is covered by the warranty, and for how long. It will often set out the responsibilities of the buyer, such as regular maintenance and oil changes. The manufacturer’s warranty is particularly important if you are not eligible for a true lemon law claim in your state but can still pursue a claim for breach of warranty. Also, in some states, such as California, lemon laws specifically relate to the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty.
3. Repair Paperwork
In a nutshell, a lemon law claim exists because there is a defect in your vehicle that the manufacturer has not repaired. Your repair paperwork is evidence of the defect and the manufacturer’s failure to repair it. Lemon laws also allow manufacturers reasonable attempts to repair a vehicle (which differ from state to state.) You should keep any of the following documents that you have but know that not many owners have all, or even some, of these documents, and your attorney can often help you get what you need:
- Repair orders – This is the document that the repair facility gives you when you drop off your vehicle for repairs. Make sure that it lists all of the problems that you have described, the date, and the correct mileage. This includes any warranty repair orders. If a repair facility has tried to fix the same problem previously, make sure this is noted on the repair order rather than appearing as a new problem.
- Repair invoice – This is the document that the repair facility gives you when you pick up your vehicle. It should also list the problems with the vehicle, the repairs completed, the date, the mileage, and the cost of repairs. You should get a repair invoice even if there is no charge.
- Calendar/Timeline – The number of repair attempts and the length of time that a vehicle is in for repair, or is unable to be used, are relevant to a lemon law claim. Keep a record of repair appointments and the periods that you could not use your vehicle. Many people find it helpful to record this in their usual daily planner rather than creating a separate record that can be a hassle and forgotten.
- Notes – If anything happens regarding your vehicle that does not generate a document, you can always keep your own notes. Sometimes you have a phone conversation with your manufacturer or dealer. Sometimes, a repair facility refuses to add or change a detail on a repair order or invoice. In these instances, write a short note including any details you have, such as what happened, who you spoke to, and the date, and keep that note in your lemon file.
You may send or receive letters regarding your vehicle to the dealership, manufacturer, or a third party, such as a government agency. Some states require written notification of the defect to the manufacturer in certain situations. Keep copies of all such correspondence in your lemon file.
5. Other Helpful Documents
Other documents that may be helpful to your claim include:
- Vehicle registration
- Maintenance records
- Accident history
- Other expenses incurred e.g. rental vehicle receipt
- Notes of any other relevant events or time periods
The general rule is that if you think you may have bought a lemon, start a file and keep everything. If you have to give your attorney the original, keep a copy. You can declutter later when you have a refund in your bank account or a replacement vehicle in the driveway.
If you think you may have purchased a lemon, we can help you navigate the paperwork and procedures that can sometimes seem daunting in a legal claim. It is what we do every day. Contact one of our experienced team for a free case review.