Articles Posted in General Lemon Laws

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Hiring an attorney can be expensive, how do lemon lawyers get paid if I sue the car dealer or manufacturer?

Although the news media paints the picture that we live in a “sue happy” society.  In reality, most families are hard working people who never have the expectation of using the court system to help right a wrong or injustice in their lives.

The most common misconception is that anything that involves hiring an attorney is going to be cost prohibitive or be too expensive.  In fact, most car dealers and vehicle manufacturers want you to believe that.  Luckily, in the case of most lemon law situations, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

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A “demonstrator” vehicle, also known as a demo vehicle is a vehicle that has anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 miles on the speedomoter and has been used by customers for test drives, or has been driven by employees of car dealerships or manufacturers for a short or limited amount of time.  I know many owners and managers of car dealerships who would drive cars and later pass these cars back to the car lot for sale.

A demo vehicle is not the same as a pre-owned or used car and the law protects a demo car owner more so than a pre-owned or used car.

Under the Texas Lemon Law, a demo is covered and the consumer is protected, on a limited basis.  The consumer still needs to take the vehicle in for multiple repair attempts or at least two times if it is considered a serious safety defect.  Feel free to contact my office regarding potential lemon law cases for pre-owned vehicles.

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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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