Lifestyle | Managing Money

The Lemon Law Process – What to Expect and How to Prepare

May 26, 2023

When a vehicle has substantial defects, it can become dangerous to drive. Many clients rely on their vehicles to commute, which means they cannot afford to spend days without a car. Don’t let your dealer or manufacturer convince you you don’t qualify for lemon law help. You could receive a refund, replacement, or cash compensation.


In arbitration, a dispute resolution hearing is held to review the facts of your case. It is essential to prepare thoroughly for your hearing. According to California lemon lawyers, you must organize and make copies of all documents you plan to present as evidence at your hearing. You should also collect physical evidence such as contracts, receipts, and photographs. You will need to call witnesses and have them swear affidavits that set forth their perspective on the facts of your dispute. The arbitrator will usually begin the hearing by making a few introductory remarks and laying out the process they will follow during your arbitration. Any stipulations that can be entered into before the start of the hearing should be made, as these will save you time and money. Often, stipulations will be related to liability or the extent of damages. During the hearing, both parties will present their case to the arbitrator. Bring along a list of all witnesses you wish to call and the names and contact information of those who will testify on your behalf. It is important to arrange for your witnesses to attend the hearing, either by obtaining their agreement to do so or, where necessary, by issuing subpoenas through a clerk of the superior court.


The actual process of filing a lemon law complaint can vary from state to state. It is always best to consult with an attorney who specializes in lemon law and consumer fraud cases before trying to prosecute your claim pro se (without an attorney). However, some general rules apply. First, ensure you are eligible for help under your state’s lemon law or federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act statute. You must have purchased the vehicle, been unable to use it due to defective problems, and met several other requirements. You must also keep good records of all repair attempts, including date, mileage, and detailed problem description. This information is vital to your case. The more information you have, the better your attorney can build a strong case on your behalf and increase your chances of victory. If you win a lemon law claim, manufacturers must repurchase the vehicle or provide a replacement of equal value. They must also pay for any trade-in allowance and license and registration fees. Consumers can also choose to get reimbursement or a cash settlement. If you opt for a replacement, the manufacturer must pay all your original purchase prices minus any down payment, lease, loan payments, and excessive wear and tear.


Suppose you’ve spent hours on the phone with your car dealer and mechanic and brought your defective vehicle back to the dealership multiple times. It is only natural that you would want to resolve your lemon law case as soon as possible. This is why you should seek the legal advice of a qualified lemon law attorney as early in the process as possible.

A lemon law attorney will review all your documentation and tell you whether your case is a good candidate for a settlement. If a settlement is possible, your attorney will work to negotiate with the manufacturer and keep you informed of the status of your case. Depending on the nature of your case, your attorney may also recommend that you pursue litigation in court if negotiations do not produce a satisfactory result. If your attorney chooses to prosecute, it will take much longer for the matter to resolve because the manufacturer will be required to go through formal discovery and disclose certain information.

Often, the best outcome of a lemon law claim is that the manufacturer will offer to refund your money or replace your car. This is referred to as a “buyback.” If the manufacturer offers a buyback, the refund will include all of the money you have invested into the vehicle (fewer deductions for mileage and aftermarket costs), plus any negative equity or fees such as a service contract, gap insurance, rebates, etc.


The law provides consumers with a right to sue when a manufacturer fails to honor their written warranty or does not resolve the problem of a defective vehicle after multiple opportunities. A lemon law lawsuit allows for either a refund of the purchase price, replacement of the car, or a cash-and-keep settlement. We can help you choose the option that is best for your circumstances. The manufacturer has time to file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint with the court. This is often done with the help of a defense attorney hired by the manufacturer. Both parties will undergo a process of exchanging information called discovery. This may take months or more to complete. Most lemon law cases settle before trial, but a small percentage of these claims are tried before a judge or jury. If you are going to trial, your attorney will prepare a comprehensive case presentation for the jury that includes copies of all repair bills, work orders, photographs, and other documentation. 

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