In many cases an experienced attorney can agree to represent you with little or no fees or costs up front and instead seek payment from the manufacturer upon successful resolution of your claims. The Lemon Law process is rather complicated with detailed statutory prerequisites and pitfalls that must be avoided if a consumer expects to prevail. Manufacturers often have skilled attorneys representing their interests and without an attorney representing the consumer's interests it is often difficult to obtain the proper relief even if you have a strong case. At the very least you may want to seek consultation with an experienced attorney. Most experienced attorneys in this field don't charge you for reviewing your case.
Minimum Qualifications and Filing Pre-Requisite
In order to qualify under the Lemon Law the vehicle must have:
1. Suffered three (3) or more repair attempts to repair the same defect or nonconformity or have remained out of service at the repair facility for fifteen (15) or more days.
Next, you must provide the manufacturer with written notice and allow the manufacturer a "final repair attempt". The written notice should be provided via the "Motor Vehicle Defect Notification Form" and mailed via registered or express mail so that you have proof of when the manufacturer received the notice. The form is contained within the Lemon Law Rights booklet you should have received at the time of sale, or you can obtain a copy online. Be sure to mail it to the manufacturer's correct address.
2. If after the "final repair" the defect was not cured or arises again later, or if the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for over thirty (30) days then you may qualify for relief.
Filing the Lemon Law Action
First you must determine with what organization to file your Lemon Law action.
If your vehicle's manufacturer has established a certified procedure you will have to resort to seeking relief by filing the Lemon Law claim with that organization. Review your warranty booklet to ascertain whether your vehicle's manufacturer has a requirement to file with a specific organization, such as the Better Business Bureau. Or, you can visit the Florida Attorney General's website click on the "Lemon Law" link and then click on "State-Certified Manufacturer Programs" link for a list of manufacturers and the specific organizations you are required to file your initial Lemon Law claim with. Most manufacturers currently utilize the Better Business Bureau. If your manufacturer does not have a certified pro listed, you can file your claim directly with the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, a division of the Florida Attorney General's office.
Proving Your Case
After you submit your Lemon Law application with the appropriate organization you will be scheduled for an arbitration at which you must prove your case. It is imperative that you are well prepared, have submitted all of the required documentation and understand the standards required to prevail.
In addition to proving that you followed all of the procedure outlined above, you will have to prove that the defect substantially impairs the USE, VALUE or SAFETY of the vehicle. In other words, if you cannot show that the defect substantially impairs these areas you cannot prevail even though defects are present and unrepaired.
The manufacturer will most likely have an attorney represent it at the lemon law hearing. If you are unsure about how to proceed or how to prove your case seek consultation with an experienced attorney right away. Attorneys that practice in this area may take your case and recover any fees directly from the manufacturer without out of pocket cost to you.
Additional resources provided by the author
The lemon law is contained within Florida Statute 681 and can be accessed online via "online sunshine" at the below link
Both the BBB (Better Business Bureau and the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board publish lemon law guides and have information on how to file and pursue a lemon law claim. The links for these organizations follow.
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