Suppose you have visited the repair shop countless times with your new, used, pre-owned, or certified car that is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. In that case, you may be wondering if you have a lemon on your hands. There are many avenues to help you resolve this issue in California, from court litigation with a judge, to arbitration. In some cases, there may be an arbitration clause in a contract. However, under California’s Lemon Law, arbitration is strictly voluntary.
For some, Lemon Law arbitration is a perfect alternative. Unlike the long wait times for trials associated with litigating cases in court, arbitration can quickly resolve issues. Even if arbitration doesn’t end with a binding settlement, it is a fair assessment of a potential lawsuit’s strengths and weaknesses.
What is Lemon Law Arbitration?
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution. It is an alternative to fighting your Lemon Law case in court before a judge. Unlike litigation, arbitration encourages amicable discussions that help the plaintiff (who is usually the consumer) and the defendant (the dealership, manufacturer, or distributor) to reach a settlement. The case is heard by an arbitrator, who is an impartial person. The arbitrator listens to the parties, reviews the evidence, and then makes a decision.
Preparing for Arbitration
There are two types of arbitration — binding and non-binding. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is final and can only be overturned by a court when extenuating circumstances present. In non-binding arbitration, either party may reject the arbitration award and demand a trial instead.
Even if the parties decide to proceed with non-binding arbitration, it is crucial to take the arbitration process seriously. Consulting with an experienced Lemon Law attorney at Conn Law P.C. can help assess your case’s strength and present evidence in a compelling way for settlement.
Below are a few things you can do to present a strong case for arbitration.
- Document the Number of Attempts Made to Fix the Defect. Under California’s Lemon Law, a manufacturer must make a reasonable number of attempts to fix a car’s defect. Only then, does the manufacturer have to repurchase or compensate the vehicle’s owner. The number of attempts considered reasonable depends on whether the defect is a safety issue. The defect must be documented, as well as all attempts to fix it.
- Inform the authorized dealer about your vehicle’s problem and make sure the repair order fully describes it.
- Each time you take your vehicle in for warranty or vehicle problems, make sure that the authorized dealer provides you with a repair order. Save those repair orders in a safe place.
- Keep copies of all repair orders and assure that repair orders include your comments provided to the technicians or advisors.
- Read the Warranty or Owner’s Manual to Provide Notice
- The warranty or owner’s manual will describe how to send notice to the manufacturer. Usually, the manufacturer must be contacted directly.
- In a letter to the manufacturer, ensure that you describe your vehicle defects needing repair and the failed attempts.
- Send the letter to the address shown in your warranty booklet or owner’s manual, using certified mail, and keep a copy of the letter and the certified mail receipt.
- Notify the authorized dealer immediately if a repair attempt is not successful.
- Seek Expert Assistance to Confirm That the Defect Impairs the Safety or Value of the Vehicle.
- A manufacturer will usually have an expert witness to suggest that your vehicle was repaired, that the problems were minor, or that the car is operating within specifications. It is essential to document the defect and explain that the consequences of the defect materially impairs the vehicle’s safety or value. Often, the plaintiff cannot explain this alone.
- Contact the manufacturer and ask for any technical service bulletins that might be related to your car’s problems.
- Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and research any safety recall information.
Contact the experienced attorneys at Conn Law, P.C. at 412-417-2780 or online today for your free consultation and to ensure your legal rights are protected.