West Virginia Lemon Law Explained
West Virginia’s Lemon Law is a consumer protection law that helps people who buy new vehicles that have major defects that cannot be repaired and appear during the first year of ownership or within the vehicle’s express warranty period (whichever is longer.) Even if you are not the original owner of a vehicle, you may still be able to bring a Lemon Law claim if you purchased a vehicle that malfunctions prior to the expiration of the express warranty period or within the vehicle’s first year.
There are a few requirements that determine whether your new vehicle is covered by West Virginia Lemon Law:
- The vehicle must be a passenger vehicle - car, SUV, passenger van, pick-up truck, motor home chassis, or other passenger vehicle – or a farming vehicle with 35+ horsepower. (Motorcycles and boats aren’t covered by West Virginia’s Lemon Law but there are other laws that can help the owners of those vehicles if they buy or lease one that’s defective).
- The vehicle must be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes – meaning not primarily used for business.
- The vehicle must be purchased, or registered and titled, in West Virginia.
No, boats do NOT qualify as vehicles under West Virginia’s Lemon Law but there are other laws that can help boat owners if they buy or lease one that’s defective.
Not every vehicle defect or problem qualifies you for a Lemon Law claim (although there may be other laws available to make a claim and get compensation).
West Virginia’s Lemon Law requires:
- A defect that does not conform to the manufacturer’s warranty.
- The defect or problem substantially impairs the use or market value of the vehicle.
- The defect or problem has not been repaired or corrected by the car dealer after the manufacturer was notified of the defect, and given three repair attempts during the vehicle’s first year or the express warranty period (in other words, you need to give the car dealership at least three chances to repair or correct the defect before you file a Lemon Law claim). BUT, if the defect or problem is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven, the dealer has only one chance to correct the defect.
- BUT, if the vehicle has been out-of-service because of the defect—or any other problem or malfunction—for a cumulative total of 30 or more days, you can file a Lemon Law claim EVEN IF the dealer hasn’t had three opportunities to fix the defect.
- If you are notified about a third-party dispute resolution process, you may have to try to resolve the dispute using this process before bringing a lemon law claim. It is advisable to get an attorney’s advice for any dispute resolution process.
West Virginia’s Lemon Law provides for two remedies. The law requires the manufacturer to replace the vehicle, and if they do not do so, you can sue for a refund of the purchase price:
- A replacement vehicle: You are entitled to receive a comparable vehicle (same make, model and trim level) with credit for all of your payments as if you still owned the original vehicle. In other words:
- Your loan or lease continues at its current unpaid balance and will still run for the original term (it is not extended).
- Your prior payments are counted toward the loan or lease as if you still owned the defective vehicle. In other words, if you were in month six of a four-year car loan or lease when the defective vehicle was replaced, your next payment with the new car counts as payment number seven under your loan or lease.
- A refund of the purchase price: If manufacturer does not offer a replacement vehicle, they are required to pay back:
- The vehicle’s purchase price (not the market price, or its current value, but the purchase price you paid according to the original invoice).
- The sales tax, license and registration fees you paid.
- Damages for the cost of repairs to the vehicle.
- Damages for the loss of use, annoyance or inconvenience resulting from the defect, including rental vehicle expenses.
- Attorneys’ fees, expert fees and court costs.
If the problems with your vehicle started after the first year or outside the warranty period (whichever is longer), you may still be protected under other consumer protection laws, such as breach of implied product warranties or a fraud claim against the dealer.
The Lemon Law is designed so that the owner of a defective vehicle is fully reimbursed and not stuck paying additional expenses or costs. The law includes a fee-shifting provision that requires the vehicle manufacturer to pay all attorneys’ fees and other legal costs if the consumer wins the case IN ADDITION TO reimbursement for all repairs and service visits at the dealer.
All of these expenses are paid whether you are pursuing the refund remedy or replacement vehicle remedy.
Yes, we file Lemon Law claims for vehicle owners throughout West Virginia no matter where they live in the state. If we need to have an expert inspect your vehicle and write a report, we will send that person to you.
We work tirelessly to get our clients back on the road and with money back in their pockets as soon as possible, with a goal of settling each case within the first 30 to 90 days. We’re also not afraid to file suit against the manufacturer if they refuse to give our clients everything they're legally entitled to.
Even if the repairs and issues with your vehicle don’t fit within the parameters of Lemon Law, they may qualify as unreasonable under other state or federal consumer protection laws. Call Timothy Abeel & Associates at 888.611.5481 or contact us online to find out if you have a breach of warranty or loss in value claim.
Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C. works to get the owners of defective or malfunctioning vehicles the settlement they deserve as fast as possible. Give our firm a call at 888-611-5481 to find out what you are entitled to as a consumer.