Articles Posted in General Lemon Laws

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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.

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Expectations are important. It is vital to any good relationship; especially between an attorney and a client in a lemon law case. Below are three things I tell clients to expect from me.

1) Expect attorney-client privilege. Under the attorney code of ethics, as an attorney, I have an obligation to keep your information from being shared to others without your authorization. Information will be kept confidential.

2) Expect to be kept up to date on the status of your case. Although our office cannot guarantee outcomes in a lemon law case, we will do our best to contact our client (usually by email, phone, or mail) and keep them posted on the status of their case. Communication is key and we will do our best to answer any questions our client has. We have almost posted a frequently asked and answered page on our website as well.

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Buying a new vehicle is statistically the second largest purchase that most consumers partake in their lifetime, behind purchasing a new home. Often times, the negotiation process itself is stressful enough. To avoid owning a lemon vehicle that will inconvenience and acquiring a headache down the road, it is important to be mindful of the following red flags… In the vehicle manufacturing business, there will be a small percentage of defects. Your goal is to avoid owning a lemon car in that small percentage; because taking a new Ford vehicle in the service center for warranty work is not the ideal situation to be in.

1) If the vehicle already has high mileages on it. A new car should not have over 300 miles on it. High mileage vehicles mean that other potential buyers test drove the vehicle and passed up on it, for a reason.

2) If the vehicle has visual defects or dings. Decline the vehicle and pick another vehicle from the lot, or go to a different dealership — even if the salesperson (who wants you to buy the vehicle to earn a commission so he/she can quickly work on another deal with another consumer) promises you that the dealership will repair it before they hand it to you.

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Most consumers are unaware about incidental expenses under the Texas Lemon Law. Under Rule Section 215.209 of the Texas Administrative Code, if a consumer is successful in obtaining a refund or replacement of the vehicle under the Texas Lemon Law, then the consumer is also entitled to incidental costs.

Please keep in mind that Texas Lemon Law incidental fees must be affirmatively proven, meaning that you must submit receipts, paperwork, and documentation at the hearing. Merely stating these costs at the hearing will most likely not work. Incidental fees include:

– the cost of obtaining another form of transportation,

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Often times, when a client contacts me regarding a defective lemon vehicle purchased in Texas, it is their first time contacting an attorney. Here are some things you should expect when you contact a lemon law attorney

First, you should expect the attorney to ask you basic questions about yourself, such as your name, address, email, and contact information..

Second, you should expect the attorney to ask you questions relating to your vehicle, such as the year, make, model, current mileage, and history of repairs.

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In 1992, Congress passed a law that requires the implementation of a national database that contains a car history report of every vehicle found in the United States. The database is called the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).

Eighteen (18) years later in 2008, it looks like the Justice Department finally decided that it will abide by Congress’ order (in this case, it took lawsuits from consumer groups to get the Justice Department to finally do its job).

I just received an email update from a California Lemon Law attorney, Craig Patrick, about California being one of the frontier states that is currently participating in this national database program. The NMVTIS will contain information about the whether the vehicle was a lemon law buyback or whether it has been severely wrecked.

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Please remember to celebrate this holiday season safely.

If you will be in the market of purchasing a vehicle, then remember that the Texas Lemon Law generally does not apply to pre-own or used car.

For used vehicles, remember to cross check the vehicle’s history by using both Carfax and Autocheck, as information in one report is not cumulative or comprehensive. The best suggestion to avoid owning a lemon is to use common sense and ask lots of questions. I know that the pre-own car salesperson may be pushy — just push back. For more suggestions, then go here.

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Lemon laws protect car buyers who have repeatedly tried to fix cars, to no avail. While laws vary by state, one of the strongest is the Texas lemon law, on which other state laws are modeled. There are also federal laws that further protect consumers. Consumers can use these lemon laws to get a refund or replacement for cars that require excessive repairs to fix warranty-covered problems.

Texas Lemon Law: The law applies to new automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, RVs, and towable recreational vehicles. These vehicles must have problems covered by a written factory warranty; claims must be filed within 6 months of the expiration of the warranty, 24 months, or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The law requires 2 repair attempts in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles and another 2 attempts in the second 12 months or 12,000 miles. If the problem is a serious safety hazard, it only requires 1 repair attempt in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles and at least one more in the second 12 months or 12,000 miles. The law also covers vehicles that are out of service for 30 days.

California Lemon Law: This law applies only to vehicles used for home or personal use. It requires 4 repair attempts or 30 days out of service within 18 months or 18,000 miles. If the problem could cause death or serious injury, it only requires 2 repair attempts.

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Hyundai recently lost a California Lemon Law case over attorney fees in the Court of Appeals of California — Fourth Appellate District. The case revolves around Adina Vasquez’s purchase of a defective 2005 Hyundai Sonata. Vasquez hired a lemon law attorney and sued under the California Song-Beverly Act and the MagnusonMoss Act.

Vasquez was able to get a repurchase on the vehicle, but the issue of attorney fees remain pending. Thereafter, Vasquez’s attorney sued for attorney fees in the amount of $51,012. Hyundai fought and the trial court agreed with Hyundai — it refused to award any attorney fees to Vasquez’s attorney. Vasquez’s attorney took the case to the Fourth Appellate District Court of California.

In its unpublished decision dated on October 13, 2009, the appellate court sided with Vasquez in stating that Vasquez’s attorney is entitled to “reasonable attorney fees.” The case is remanded back to the trial court to determine the reasonableness of $51,012.