Can You File Lemon Claims From Another State?

Can You File Lemon Claims From Another State?

Buying a car that spends more time in the shop than on the road is not only annoying, it’s also costly. Fortunately, lemon laws are here to protect you. Buying a defective car is quite common for the American consumer, so both federal law and state laws have been written to compensate you after your unlucky purchase.

At the federal level, you are protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, while in California, it’s the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act that comes into play, supplemented by the Tanner Consumer Protection Act.

But if you have bought your car in California and now reside elsewhere, you don’t have to jump to federal jurisdiction just yet. California lemon law is one of the broadest and most beneficial laws for consumers, and it still protects you.

Why File a Lemon Claim in California From Another State? 

If you’ve purchased or leased a car in California presenting a defect that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, then you can file your lemon claim.

To file your claim in California from another state, your car must have been purchased or leased from a retailer located in California. The exception to that is if the purchaser is a member of the Armed Forces, stationed or residing in California at the moment of the purchase or lease.

California lemon law offers very broad protections to car purchasers, as well as high benefits. These benefits include repurchase or replacement of the vehicle, reimbursement of costs (such as monthly installments), and covering of legal fees by the manufacturer.

Understanding the Legal Process 

The first step before filing your lemon law claim is locating your purchase or lease agreement and then checking the written warranty of your vehicle. You can file your claim up to four years after the warranty expires by mileage or years.

Next, you’ll need to assess the severity of the defect: minor or cosmetic issues do not qualify. Lemon law applies to defects significantly impacting the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.

You will also need to prove that there were a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defect. California law considers that four or more attempts are a reasonable number of repairs. If the defect could cause serious injury or death, that number drops to two.

Lastly, your vehicle needs to have been out of service due to repairs for a considerable number of days. In California, it means for more than 30 cumulative days.

You might also need to notify the manufacturer of your intent to file a claim, describing the defect, the repair history, and a request for a remedy. Your warranty might also stipulate that you need to arbitrate before moving to the filing of a claim step.

To prove all these, you will have to gather lots of documentation, starting with the purchase or lease documentation, as well as all repair orders, receipts, and invoices. Don’t forget receipts for towing fees, cab fares, and any costs related to the unavailability of the vehicle incurred. Any detailed notes on these repairs that you kept should also be included.

Filing from another state, you might run into exceptions, conditions, and other hurdles. To best navigate these, make sure to enlist the help of a lemon lawyer. Moreover, manufacturers are, of course, not too keen on paying claims, but the team at Johnston & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys relies on twenty years of experience in pursuing and winning such cases. Getting the help of a lemon lawyer will maximize your chances of larger reimbursements or better settlements and should come at no cost to you.

Making the Process Easier 

To make this process smoother, you need to pick the right lawyer. They have to know both federal and state law and have a proven track record of success. Look into client testimonials: were they happy with the outcome, and did they find that their interests were best protected?

Word-of-mouth is a good starting point for finding your lemon lawyer. Ask around you. You can cross-reference the recommendations by looking into state bar associations, consumer protection agencies, and online legal directories.

During your initial consultation, make sure it’s clear that the manufacturer will cover the fees, as California law requires, and that the attorney listens to you and makes sure you understand everything you need.

Before your initial consultation, gather all the required documentation in a well-organized file with clear dates and names. Make sure to keep copies and keep a digital version of your file somewhere safe so you can easily refer to it and ensure you don’t lose it. You could also use claims management software, and your lawyer might be able to advise you on which ones you can trust.

Throughout the whole process, you will have to communicate with your lawyer and the other involved parties. Make sure to take notes during any phone conversation or video conference. To ensure that everyone has the same information and doesn’t forget anything, it can be useful to send emails summarizing the needed information and questions ahead of such talks and also after them, summarizing what was discussed, what answers were brought up, and what actions are required before the next discussion.

Get Help With Your California Lemon Claim Wherever You Live

In summary, if the car you purchased or leased in California presents a defect despite multiple repair attempts, it’s in your best interest to file your claim in California rather than in your state of residence.

There will be obstacles along the way, as can be expected with any legal battle, so make sure you prepare thoroughly, enlisting the services of an experienced lemon lawyer and gathering all needed documentation. To make this process as smooth as possible, start by consulting with a legal expert at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys to evaluate the viability of your claim.

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