Lemon Law FAQs

Vehicles purchased from private parties are not afforded protection under the California Lemon Law. The vehicle must be purchased from a retail seller (i.e., a dealership). Even if the vehicle has its original manufacturer’s warranty left on the vehicle, if it was purchased from a private party, you’re not entitled to California Lemon Law protection.

Generally, under the California Lemon Law, a vehicle may qualify for a refund or a replacement if it meets just one of the following criteria:

  • The vehicle has the same problem repaired FOUR or more times;
  • The vehicle has the same problem repaired TWO or more times and the problem is a major safety defect;
  • The vehicle is out of service for THIRTY or more total days.

The problems with the vehicle must substantially impair the use, value, and safety of the vehicle and must have occurred at least partially during the original vehicle warranty.

"Major safety defect" has yet to be explicitly defined by the courts. However, we know that it must be a potentially life-threatening problem with the vehicle, or the vehicle’s failure forces the owner into a dangerous situation. These failures include, for example, stalling, failure to start, overheating, significant braking issues, fuel issues, airbag and seatbelt issues, transmission failure, instrumentation failure, and the like.
If you bring the vehicle in for repairs on a Monday, and the repairs are completed on Wednesday, it will count as three days. Likewise, if the vehicle is inoperative on a Sunday, but cannot be brought in for repair until Monday and is repaired on Monday, it will count as two days.
No. You can have repairs made at any service center authorized by the manufacturer to make repairs on your vehicle. However, your independent mechanic is probably NOT considered an authorized repair facility for the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Just about anything wrong with a vehicle will affect its use, value, or safety. “Minor” or “cosmetic” problems, such as moldings, a cigarette lighter, an outside thermometer, a change holder, coat clips, and the like, will likely not count toward use, value, or safety problems.
Once a vehicle qualifies under the Lemon Law, the consumer is entitled to either a refund for the vehicle or a new vehicle. A refund includes the down payment, all monthly payments, taxes, original licensing fees, rental expenses, reasonable attorney’s fees, and, in rare instances, penalties. The manufacturer will also pay off the balance of your remaining loan or lease. In the alternative, the manufacturer will provide you with a new vehicle that is substantially similar to the lemon vehicle. For example, if you own a 2017 Ford Explorer, but there are no more 2017 models available, Ford would then give you a 2018 Ford Explorer.
Yes. This charge is known as the usage/mileage deduction. Simply put, the manufacturer is entitled to an offset for the miles placed on the vehicle before the first major problem that became the basis for the refund. The calculation formula is set forth in California Law. As a rule, the more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive the deduction!
The average NON-LITIGATED case should take about 90 to 120 days to be fully completed. This is an average; some cases take longer for various reasons, and some take less time. If the case needs to be litigated, the case could take substantially longer to be completed. Fortunately, most cases do not require litigation.
Yes. Failure to continue making payments could lead to
repossession and/or damage to your credit.
Any damage beyond ordinary wear and tear to the vehicle must be repaired prior to returning the vehicle to the manufacturer or the manufacturer will deduct the cost of any damage from the settlement. Door dings and minor scratches are considered ordinary wear and tear. Dents, major paint damage, and interior damage such as cigarette burns are not considered wear and tear and must be repaired.

At The Law Office of Barry L Edzant, we will not be asking you to pay us any up-front fees. If we do not win your case, you will owe us nothing.

Upon a successful resolution of your claim, The California Lemon Law allows us to collect our hourly fees and costs from the manufacturer of your vehicle. Because we are on a contingency agreement, all of our fees will be paid at the conclusion of your case.

Despite what you may read or hear in the news, only about one percent of all civil cases eventually go all the way to trial. Only about 30 percent of our Lemon Law cases are litigated, with nearly all those litigated cases settling prior to trial. Some auto manufacturers are very unfair to consumers and force cases into litigation, despite our best settlement efforts. Because litigation is extremely expensive, we make all efforts to settle Lemon Law cases without litigation.
This is a very tricky situation that will sometimes occur if you have an intermittent problem with the vehicle, such as sudden stalling. In these situations, it is best not to drive the vehicle but to insist that the dealership make all efforts to find the problem. Sometimes a different dealership will make a more comprehensive effort to locate the problem. If possible, ask the dealership to put in writing that the vehicle is safe to drive. If the vehicle then becomes involved in an accident due to the unrepaired item, you may have grounds for a potential negligent repair case against the dealership, in addition to the Lemon Law case.
No. You may proceed with your case regardless of whether the manufacturer has notified you of your right to arbitration. You may also still bring your Lemon Law case after you have been to arbitration but have lost.
No, but without the repair invoices, determining whether you have a case is difficult. Sometimes you may go to your dealership and ask them to print out a full history of all repairs, which will be helpful in determining whether there is a case. But this report may not provide us with all the necessary information to make a fully informed decision.
No! The California Lemon Law also applies to trucks, boats, small watercraft, motorcycles, computers, motor homes, and any other “consumer goods.” There are some exceptions to this. Because automobiles and light trucks are most commonly seen as Lemon Law cases, other consumer goods usually prove more difficult to pursue. For instance, cases involving a boat will usually be more time-consuming to pursue.
Yes. If the vehicle was purchased in California, we can still represent you. We cannot help you if the vehicle was purchased in a state other than California.
Yes. If the repairs began while it was still under the original manufacturer warranty, your claim is still valid. Sometimes dealerships will even make “courtesy” repairs after the original warranty has expired. These may also count as repairs. However, repairs made only under an extended warranty (service contract) do not count toward Lemon Law repairs, with few exceptions. It is always preferable to have the repairs done while under the original manufacturer’s warranty.
No. If enough repairs were made before 18,000 miles or within 18 months of ownership, the vehicle is presumed to qualify as a lemon under the law. However, if the repairs begin or continue while under the original manufacturer’s warranty (for instance, within 3 years or 36,000 miles, and often even longer for the powertrain), the vehicle will still qualify but the presumption may not apply.
Yes. Recent case law states that even though the owner (or lessee) of a vehicle no longer has possession, the Lemon Law case is still valid.
Yes. A Lemon Law case can be brought whether the vehicle was leased or purchased.
Yes. If the repairs to the used vehicle occurred while the vehicle was still under the original manufacturer’s warranty, the vehicle may still fall under the protection of the Lemon Law. Many Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with very good warranties, which are still considered “original” warranties since they are granted by the manufacturer.
No. The Lemon Law will only apply to vehicles purchased within the state of California. However, if you have purchased the vehicle in California, then move out of California, the California Lemon Law will still protect you. For vehicles purchased outside of California, you may be protected under that state’s laws.

Personal Injury FAQs

There are some people who have attempted to pursue their own personal injury cases, but this can be very difficult and usually unsuccessful. You will be up against seasoned experts from the insurance companies who will, more likely than not, attempt to compensate you far less than the actual value of your case. Handling your own personal injury case is like trying to build your own home. You might be able to do it, but the results will likely be poor.
The length of a personal injury case, from beginning to end, is determined by the severity of the injuries and the amount of time it will take to fully recover from your injuries. If the injuries are very minor and there is enough insurance to cover the full extent of the injuries, the case should resolve within just a few months. If the injuries are very serious and there is little insurance money to recover, the case may also be resolved quickly. However, when there are major injuries, insurance disputes, disputes over fault, and prolonged medical treatment, a personal injury case can last substantially longer.
While many law firms approach client contact differently, we believe it is essential that our clients have communication with the attorney at all times. While our office staff will be working on your case on a regular basis, all decisions are reviewed by the attorney and all matters of importance are discussed directly between the client and the attorney. We encourage our clients to call us for updates—we love hearing from our clients.
Not likely. The common misconception, probably brought about by television, is that every case goes to trial. Nothing could be further from the truth. Approximately 99 percent of all civil cases brought and filed in the court system are resolved before trial. Trials are extraordinarily unpredictable, expensive, and time-consuming. Because of that, in the interest of all parties, the overwhelming majority of cases are resolved without the necessity of a trial.
In a personal injury action, you are entitled to your actual out-of-pocket expenses, such as repairs to your vehicle or the fair market value of your vehicle in the event it is a total loss. You are also entitled to rental expenses or the loss of use of your vehicle. You are entitled to have your reasonable medical bills paid if the injuries are sustained from the incident in question. You are also entitled to your loss of earnings for the past, present, and future, in the event that any losses of earnings are incurred. Lastly, you are entitled to damages for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you have suffered from the action. The at-fault party or insurance company is not responsible for your attorney’s fees.
If you were injured in the incident, you should seek appropriate medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. With some types of injuries, you may not experience any pain or discomfort for several days following the incident. In any event, it is best to use common sense: If you are, in fact, injured, the sooner you seek medical treatment, the better off you will be in the long run. It is best to rule out a more serious injury by seeking medical attention as soon as you begin to feel pain or discomfort. We strongly advise against incurring medical expenses when there is no injury. Insurance fraud is a felony and should never be tolerated.
Yes. Most attorneys have doctors with whom they are familiar and who have established themselves as excellent physicians in areas close to the client’s work or home. But an injured client should never wait for a referral to a doctor if you need a doctor immediately. Family doctors or emergency hospitals are available for immediate medical attention and should be utilized for that purpose.
In personal injury cases, many doctors will take a case on a “lien” basis. This means that the doctor will not require any monies from the client during the course of medical care, but will wait for the settlement of the case to get paid. In many cases, however, it is best to use your private medical insurance for your medical needs. Assuming it is determined that the at-fault party is responsible for the incident, the insurance company for that party will be responsible for all reasonable medical expenses incurred. Insurance companies will not pay for medical reports or records reviews, treatment unrelated to the incident, medical expenses that are unreasonably high, or unnecessary medical exams. Your doctor should consult with your attorney regularly to make sure that the medical expenses being incurred are reasonable and customary.
Prior to reviewing all the evidence in a personal injury case, it is nearly impossible to accurately predict the true value of your case. There are some lawyers who will “ballpark” the case, which we believe is a mistake. Until all medical documentation has been reviewed, photographs examined, liability determined, loss of earnings calculated, and future need for medical care and expenses evaluated, the value cannot be determined. In other words, all facts and evidence of a case must be at the disposal of your attorney to make a clear, informed, and professional opinion. Doing any less is merely guesswork.
If your vehicle is repairable, you are permitted to take it to any repair or body shop of your choice. Insurance companies cannot dictate where you must take your vehicle. Sometimes it is advisable to use your own collision insurance to get your car repaired quickly. If you rely on the insurance company of the at-fault driver to repair your car, it may take longer to get the vehicle repaired due to the insurance company’s duty to investigate the case prior to settling any claims. If you incur a deductible by going through your insurance company, the at-fault party’s insurance company will usually reimburse you for your deductible.
You are entitled to the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of loss. You are not entitled to the amount you actually paid for the vehicle, unless the fair market value at the time of loss is more than what you paid for the vehicle. Please keep in mind that if there are any monies left owing on the vehicle loan or lease, the lender will have to be paid. If the vehicle is worth less at the time of loss than the money owed on the vehicle loan or lease, you may end up owing the lender more than what the insurance company is obligated to pay you. While this situation is uncommon, this obviously can be a devastating loss. The purchase of “gap insurance” can reduce the risk of this unfortunate event from happening. The value of a vehicle is determined by the insurance industry via a consumer index. The Kelly Blue Book, while used as a guide, is not determinative of value.
The at-fault party’s insurance company is also responsible for your rental expenses. You can sometimes request that the at-fault party’s insurance company be billed directly for the rental expenses, although this is certainly no guarantee of compensation. More likely you will have to rent a vehicle on your own and get reimbursed from the insurance company at a later time. If you have rental coverage under your own auto policy (which is strongly recommended), it is sometimes easier to go through your own insurance company for your rental expenses. It is important that you do not rent a vehicle for more time than is absolutely necessary, because insurance may not cover all of the expenses. Likewise, the vehicle you rent should be similar to the one you own. Don’t rent a Ferrari when you normally drive a Toyota Camry!
In personal injury actions, lost earnings and future earnings are recoverable from the at-fault party’s insurance company. The loss of earnings must be proven to the insurance company. This requirement can sometimes prove difficult, especially for self-employed individuals. Keeping good employment records is a must, and the earnings must be relatively easy to calculate. Because of the unpredictability of obtaining recoveries for lost earnings, the injured party is advised to return to work as soon as possible.
Nearly all personal injury lawyers accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. If the attorney is not successful in winning the case on your behalf, the attorney does not receive any attorney’s fees. Your attorney will be entitled to a percentage of the entire gross recovery for the bodily injury portion of the case. Standard fees are usually 33 percent of the gross recoveries if the case is settled prior to filing a lawsuit and 40 percent of the gross recoveries if a lawsuit must be filed to reach a settlement or verdict. The fees to minors under the age of 18 are less. Some types of cases have set fees, such as Medical Malpractice cases.
It is the client’s responsibility to pay all costs of pursuing a case. Many lawyers require costs up front; others advance the costs on the client’s behalf, then reimburse themselves at the conclusion of the case. As a general rule, the stronger a case, the more likely it is that attorneys will advance the costs on the client’s behalf, reimbursing themselves at the conclusion of the case. We regularly advance costs in most cases.
Yes. In California, a driver of a motor vehicle must carry liability insurance. The results of not carrying liability insurance can be devastating. Unless the at-fault driver was convicted of driving while under the influence, the uninsured plaintiff will only be entitled to actual out-of-pocket expenses and not additional damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. An uninsured driver may also be subjected to a suspension of driving privileges.
Absolutely. Photographs of the scene of the accident, the damage to the vehicles or property involved, and the injuries to any parties are critical to the success of a personal injury case. The pictures of the above should be taken from all angles and distances and must be sharp resolution.
The police report will be obtained either by your insurance company or your attorney by sending a request along with a fee to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Some agencies, such as California Highway Patrol (CHP) or Sheriff’s Department, usually have the report ready within 10 to 14 days. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), on the other hand, can take several months.