April 5, 2014

Motorhome and RV Texas Lemon Law

Often times, potential clients would call my office asking if the Texas Lemon Law applies to motorhomes or recreational vehicles. Under the Texas Lemon Law, the term "vehicle" includes: "Cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes and all terrain vehicles." Travel trailers are also included, but must be titled and registered in Texas to be eligible.

In short, yes, motor-homes and recreational vehicles are protected under the Texas Lemon Law. Be caution that strict guidelines apply and it is important to contact a Texas Lemon Law attorney as soon as the consumer has encountered numerous repair attempts.

Also, keep in mind that written documentation of all repair work is absolutely essential to have a strong case against the dealer/manufacturer. Therefore, be organized and keep all paperwork handy and available when you contact an attorney who handles Texas lemon law related claims.

January 2, 2014

What is the Texas Lemon Law 30 Day Test?

Many clients call my law office asking about the 30 day Texas Lemon Law test. Little do they know that when the law was drafted, it was heavily lobbied by car manufacturers and dealers to work against many consumers. Here's why:

Imagine a very narrow law that only applies to a very small percentage of people, if any. That's the realistic outcome of the 30 day provision of the Texas Lemon Law. The 30 day test first requires that no loaner car was provided to the consumer during the period of repair. If you pass that requirement, then the law requires that your new vehicle be out of service for repair (this is where you want to make sure your repair invoices have the correct dates on it) for 30 or more days.

But hold on, the repair must be considered a "substantial" impairment, or it must "substantially" affect the market value of your new vehicle. Well, that's easy, right?

Wrong! "Substantial" or "substantially" has also been defined very narrowly by legislatures and arbitrators. In the end, very few consumers have realistically taken advantage of the 30 day provision of the Texas Lemon Law. Feel free to fill out this intake form for a free case review of have your questions answered by my law office.

September 19, 2013

The first thing you should do if you own a lemon car.

Lemon law litigation may be complex and there are many important things you should do to preserve a strong case against the car manufacturer. The first thing you should do is to obtain, gather, and compile all paperwork relating to your case.

Most car manufacturers will need to review your paperwork to assess your claim. Without paperwork, it will be your word against theirs. Some of my clients contest that the car dealership and service center should have the paperwork, since they issued the repair orders and invoices,…Right? The answer is yes, but getting them to relinquish a second copy of the paperwork if they know you are planning on opening a lemon law claim may be difficult.

After you have your paperwork in order, you may contact the vehicle manufacturer directly or contact attorney with experience handling lemon law cases. Having a lemon law attorney represent your cause may help you obtain a better settlement.

Some examples of paperwork includes: your written notes, purchase documents, warranty booklets issued by the dealership, financing agreements, and repair orders/invoices.

June 29, 2013

Lemon Law Mill: What is it?

The following link is from our texaslemon.com's testimonial page. It is a testimonial (positive review) of a client of ours. In the excerpt, there is a reference to "lemon law mills." Most people are unfamiliar with the phrase, so I thought I would write a brief blog article about it.

A "lemon law mill" is a phrase that describes a law office that concentrates its practice specifically on lemon law cases in a factory-like, volume-based, automated manner. At first thought, this isn't such a bad thing, since experience is helpful in handling lemon law cases.

The issue is when the law office focuses its attention on the number of cases settled in order to produce profit for the firm, rather than the quality of its legal
services to its consumers and its representation of the client's best interest.

When quantity supersedes quality, a lot is suffered. The client will get little attention from his or her attorney, and most of the case will be handled by law clerks and paralegals. Often times, in order to generate revenue, the lemon law mill may compromise the outcome of the client's case if it becomes hurdled with challenges and issues. Similar to a puppy mill, a lemon law mill should be avoided as much as possible.

May 30, 2013

7 Year Anniversary of Texaslemonlawblog.com

It's hard to believe that seven years ago, I started this blog to provide a forum to discuss information to the public about the Texas Lemon Law. As the years past, I was hoping the lemon law will adapt and change in a way that will help consumers for the better. Unfortunately, not much, in the Texas Lemon Law, has changed. Hopefully, the lemon law for the state of Texas will be more favorable in the next seven years.

A change to the Texas Lemon Law I would like to see happen in the near future include an attorney fee shifting provision that forces the manufacturer to pay for the consumer's attorney fee. Currently, the Texas Lemon Law program provides consumers with a chance to participate in an arbitration/hearing, the attorney fee shifting provision only applies if the car manufacturer first hires an attorney to attend the hearing.

April 30, 2013

Varying state lemon laws

Every state has different laws as it relates to lemon laws and defective new vehicles. Some states' lemon law are more favorable to consumer than others. Unfortunately, in Texas, the lemon law has been heavily lobbied by care manufacturers and dealerships; and therefore, is not very favorable to consumers.

A sign that a state lemon law is helpful to consumers is if it contains an attorney fee shifting provision. An attorney fee shifting provision requires a manufacturer to pay for the consumer's attorney fees, in the event the consumer wins the case. Often times, after buying a vehicle (the second largest purchase behind a house), most consumers do not have excessive funds to hire an attorney to seek recourse against car manufacturers.

The Texas lemon law has a "pseudo" attorney fee shifting provision. The provision is triggered during the arbitration and only if the car manufacturers hire an attorney. Unfortunately, car manufacturers abuse this provision and never obtains an attorney, instead, they bring car experts who have received legal training to the arbitration instead. Hence, the "pseudo" attorney fee shifting provision is rendered useless and if often never triggered.

March 8, 2013

Question: How long does it take for my Texas Lemon Law claim to finalize?

Often times, many Texas lemon law clients want to know how long a typical lemon law claim takes to adjudicate. The answer is that it varies. Sometimes, it can drag on longer than the consumer anticipates. Click here for a brief overview of the answer to this question.

There are many factors involved in determining how long a lemon law claim will take. Such factors include: (1) the facts of the case, (2) who the defendant car manufacturer is, (3) who the representing opposing counsel is, (4) the time of the year, and (5) how responsive the client/consumer is.

Next week, I will highlight the first factor involved in determining the time-frame of a typical lemon law case.

November 26, 2012

Question: What is a representation agreement that my attorney is asking me to sign?

Typically, a consumer contacts a Texas lemon law office and submits paperwork/documentation for a case evaluation regarding his/her vehicle. This case evaluation is usually free for the consumer. The submitted documentation is reviewed by an attorney, paralegal, or legal staff. Thereafter, the attorney or legal staff will discuss options (if any) and expectations with the consumer.

After the discussion with the Texas lemon law lawyer, the consumer may wish to retain the attorney for representation. The lawyer would then have the consumer review and sign a representation agreement.

A representation agreement is a contract between the consumer and the attorney. A good agreement usually outlines expectations, responsibilities, and fee arrangements. It is designed to protect both parties, in case a conflict or issue arises. Before signing a representation agreement, it is important for the consumer to read it carefully and ask questions on any terms that may be confusing or unclear.

October 26, 2012

Under the Texas Lemom Law, when does the statute of limitation begin to run against me, the consumer?

The statute of limitation is legalese (legal talk); it means that a plaintiff (the consumer) has a specific time-frame or deadline to file a lawsuit against a defendant. After the deadline, the consumer will lose his or her right(s) to file a lawsuit, even if the consumer has a legitimate claim/case.

The deadline to file a lawsuit is discussed in a previous blog entry found here. This post relates to when the limitation is triggered. In other words, what date does it begin to count and the clock starts ticking against the consumer.

Although not all cases are the same, under applicable federal and state Texas lemon laws, the statute of limitation usually begins on the date the vehicle was purchased. Typically, this is found on the date that is written on the purchase agreement, or sales contract. Hence, it is important to insist that the dealer writes or prints the correct date on the sales agreement.

There are exceptions to the trigger of the statute of limitations. For example, instead of finding that the trigger point is the date found on the sales contract, the court may find that the statute of limitation begins to run against the buyer on the date when the buyer "should have reasonably" known that there are issues with the new vehicle. This occurs frequently on misrepresentation or fraudulent transactions. It is best to contact a DTPA or Texas Lemon Law attorney to discuss your specific situation, as every case is different.

August 20, 2012

Do I have a case under the Texas Lemon Law?

Question: I took my vehicle in for repairs once or twice, but feel that the the problem will reoccur soon. Do I have a case?

Answer: Generally, everyone potentially has a case. The real issue is whether the case is strong or not, whether there is likelihood for recovery in the form of any cash settlement, repurchase, or replacement,...or, not.

Under the current Texas Lemon Law, the presumption is either: 2 or more repair attempts for a serious safety issue, or 4 or more attempts for the same non-substantial defect, or the vehicle has been serviced for a cumulative of 30 days or more.

Once the presumption is met, the case has a strong chance to prevail. Lemon law readiness is similar to that of eating fruits and vegetables. When the fruit or vegetable is not ripe, forcing yourself to eat it is quite bitter and sour. However, once it is fully ripe, then the timing is perfect.

Keep in mind that litigation has no guarantees. Contact a Texas Lemon Law attorney to assist you.

August 7, 2012

Manufacturer's/Service Center's satisfaction surveys and the Lemon Law

Satisfaction surveys or questionnaires is the manufacturer's method of receiving feedback from consumers. The car dealearship sometimes cash rebates and incentives from the manufacturer when they recieve consistent positive feedback from the manufacturer.

In addition, arguably most important, the vehicle manufacturer may use this information as evidence against the consumer during lemon law litigation. I handled a case where the client was a really nice guy, but honestly dissatified with the dealer's handling of his defective car. He wrote a positive review (without conferring with me beforehand) because it was against his nature to be negative or critical of anyone. During the discovery phase of our lemon law suit, opposing counsel used this as one of the arguments and key evidence to try and prove that the dealer did everything right.

The important thing when answering these surveys is to be objective and honest. Extract your emotions; be professional. If the dealer was neglient or careless, state it in specificity. If you have any doubts, contact a lemon law attorney as soon as possible. Thanks to the attorney fee shifting position, the consumer usually does not have to pay the attorney fees for representation.

July 28, 2012

Question: How long does it take to get results from a lemon law claim filed in Texas?

Answer: I will hedge a bit and use an attorney-like response on this question. The answer to this question is "it really depends." Some factors involved consists of: the facts of each case, what time of year it is, who the defendant car manufacturer is, who opposing counsel is, client expectations, and sometimes luck.

Each case, although similar on some level, is different. Cases that are filed near the holidays (for example, Thanksgiving or Christmas season) understandably takes longer, as employees of involved parties are more difficult to contact, interview, and obtain evidence.

Some vehicle manufacturers drag their feet and purposely take forever to respond to a claim -- they have very little to lose by taking their time, their goal is to take advantange of an impatient and frustrated consumer. After a demand letter has been sent and a law suit is filed, the claim gets forwarded to an opposing attorney for the vehicle manufacturer and car dealership. Some attorneys are professional, while others like to play bulldog.

Sometimes, clients are patient, while others are uneasy and are ready to move on with their life. Clients have to ask themself what the value of stress in litigation is worth to them.

Believe it or not, luck plays an important role in litigation. Often times, I handle two lemon law cases that are very similar in fact pattern; one gets a repurchase settlement while the other takes up to 4 to 5 months and gets close to trial.

Having discussed these variables, the average timeframe is anywhere from 1 month to 5 months. Cases that go to trial may take longer.