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Is There a Time Limit on Lemon Law Claims in California?

  • Do you think you have a valid lemon law claim in California? How long do you have to file your claim? The answer requires a degree of explanation. The good news here is that the statute of limitations in California is measured in years. But the strategic legal considerations suggest filing a lemon law lawsuit as soon as possible.


    Delay Can Damage Your Claim


    It is important to not delay in filing your claim. Under the lemon law statute, to qualify for a buyback or a refund the consumer must show that his car, truck or SUV has a defect the manufacturer could not repair which has a substantial impact on the use, value or safety of the vehicle. While the statute of limitations may allow a consumer to delay before filing a claim, doing so could make the impression that the defect is less serious in nature. The court could get the idea that the problems plaguing your car are not as bad as you claim. If you continue to drive your faulty vehicle for years, it may look as if the problem is not as serious as you claim.


    To maximize your chances of a successful lemon law claim, it is recommended that you talk to a qualified lemon law attorney as soon as possible.


    4-Year Absolute Deadline to File a Lemon Law Claim in California


    The bottom line statute of limitations to file a lemon law claim in this state is four years. This is the absolute deadline. If four years passes, the law will not allow you to pursue a claim. This is the fact regardless of what the reason was for the delay and no matter what you did or did not know about the claim process under the law.


    That said, the matter of when the four-year time period begins is not as clear as you would think. According to what California courts have ruled, the four-year limit begins on the date when the consumer ‘ought to have known’ that his automobile was a lemon.


    For the typical consumer, the best way to determine when the statute may have began to run, and whether they have a claim, is to talk to a Riverside lemon law attorney.


    How You Know Your Car Is a Lemon


    Your car needs to meet the lemon law criteria as set by the state. To be a lemon in this state, it needs to have a ‘substantial defect’ that you have attempted to fix several times with no success. This includes a general manufacturing warranty issue that you have made four or more attempts to repair. Or a serious safety defect your tried to repair at least twice. Or, your vehicle needs to have been out of service for at least 30 days since the purchase date.


    There is a time limit under the California lemon law, too. Your car must have these types of defects within 18 months or 18k miles, whichever is first. Note that you do not have to turn in your claim within the first 18 months or 18k miles. You just have to show that your car started to experience serious issues during that period of time.


    The best way to prove this is with your service records. Be certain that you are keeping very detailed records of every repair attempt and issue that is related to your new vehicle. As long as you can show that your vehicle started to have these problems within that period of time, you should be eligible for compensation under the California lemon law.


    If you have any questions about the eligibility of your car for lemon law relief, please consult with an experienced Riverside Lemon Law attorney today for a free consultation.