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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Most new vehicles come with a standard 36,000 miles/36 months warranty, whichever occurs first. An extended warranty is intended to cover repairs beyond the standard warranty. Some extended warranty gives you coverage beyond what the standard warranty doesn’t cover; usually, coverage you most likely do not need.

In addition, if you have a new lemon vehicle, having an extended warranty is quite useless. If the service center can not fix the vehicle, then the issue is moot. Your best course of action is to contact a texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible.

If you plan on putting a lot of miles on your vehicle, so as to trigger the 36,000 mileage coverage quickly, then it might be a good idea to opt for the extended warranty.

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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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Having a strong lemon law case is not as difficult as most people think. Based on my experience over the years handling lemon law cases, the following are 2 items that make a case strong.

Keep in mind that this is not to be considered legal advice, but merely a guideline. Please contact my office or a Texas Lemon Law attorney for legal advice that is specific to your situation.

1) Repeated repair attempts for the same problem. The rule of thumb is at least 3 repair attempts for the same defect. If you have 2 repair attempts, it might be a good idea to begin exploring your optoions.

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(What if the dealer doesn’t issue a repair order for my visit/multiple visits?)

At my lemon law office, I get asked this question the most from frustrated consumers. It is important for the client to gather all documents and paperwork, including repair invoices (even those that are designated as “NPF” (no problem found); as such paperwork serves as evidence when our office discuss the claim with opposing counsel or manufacturer representative.

Without documents, it would be difficult for any attorney to accept the case. Does that mean you have no options or no case if you trashed all of your paperwork? The answer fortunately is no.

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Answer: Most people who contact my lemon law office about a problem vehicle are everyday folks who never thought they would need to contact an attorney when they originally bought their new vehicle. Often times, it is their first time contemplating a lawsuit against any company. Suing a car manufacturer such as Kia, Chrysler, Ford, or Mazda can be a daunting task — think David and Goliath. Finding out where to sue and which attorney to contact is also another often asked question.

Some clients find that they have relocated to a different state or county. Others wonder what happens when the car dealership closed down or moved.

The term jurisdiction is a legal term of art that basically means which court has the power to handle or hear your case. For lemon law cases, jurisdiction usually occurs at the county level; typically the county where the vehicle was purchased.