Lemon laws help ensure that consumer rights are upheld when purchasing motor vehicles. Jonathan D. Schwartz, a seasoned Florida Lemon Law attorney, provides precise and personalized attention to each case and can help you understand your options if you’ve been stuck with a lemon. Let’s explore the details of Florida’s Lemon Law, the rights of consumers, and the process of making a lemon law claim.
How to Know if Your Car Is a Lemon
Identifying a lemon is the first step towards addressing a lemon law claim. In Florida, a vehicle may be considered a lemon if it is new or a demonstrator vehicle that was sold or long-term leased in the state. Used vehicles generally fall outside the purview of the Florida Lemon Law.
Substantial defects are required for a vehicle to qualify as a lemon under Florida law. These defects must impede the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
Not every issue qualifies a car as a lemon under Florida law. Minor defects, such as cosmetic inconsistencies or minor malfunctions, typically do not qualify as substantial impairments.
What Does a Lemon Law Do?
The role of the lemon law is to provide consumer protection against defective vehicles, often referred to as “lemons.” A lemon law claim can be pursued if a consumer encounters substantial defects that an authorized service agent is unable to repair after a reasonable number of attempts. These laws are in place to hold vehicle manufacturers accountable for the products they put into the market.
Lemon laws, therefore, serve to alleviate the financial and safety burdens that defective vehicles can impose on their owners. They do so by stipulating the rights and obligations of all involved parties.
What Is the Florida Car Lemon Law?
The Florida Lemon Law, officially known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, provides protection for consumers who purchase or lease a new or demonstrator vehicle in the state of Florida.
The Florida Lemon Law states that if a vehicle manifests defects that substantially impair its use, value, or safety within a certain period, typically referred to as the lemon law rights period, and the manufacturer or its authorized service agent is unable to repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer is obligated to buy back the defective vehicle or replace it.
What Vehicles Are Protected by Florida’s Lemon Laws?
Lemon laws generally cover new and demonstrator motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles that transport persons or property. In Florida, leased vehicles are also protected under the state’s lemon law. However, off-road vehicles, trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, motorcycles, and mopeds are typically not covered. The living areas of recreational vehicles are also not covered.
For a vehicle to qualify for protection under Florida’s lemon law, it must have been sold, leased, or entered into service in the state of Florida. Moreover, the defect must have first occurred within the first 24 months of ownership, known as the lemon law rights period.
What Defects Are Covered by Lemon Laws?
To qualify, the defect must be one that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Examples may include persistent engine problems, transmission issues, or significant safety concerns, like malfunctioning brakes or steering mechanisms.
It’s also important to note that the law does not cover defects resulting from accident damage, neglect, abuse, or unauthorized modifications by the vehicle owner.
How Many Repair Attempts Are Required?
Under Florida’s Lemon Law, before a vehicle can officially be declared a lemon, a reasonable number of repair attempts must be made. The law stipulates this as either three unsuccessful repair attempts for the same defect or a cumulative total of 15 days when the vehicle is out of service due to one or more defects.
Following this, the vehicle owner must then allow the manufacturer one last repair attempt, offering an opportunity for the issue to be rectified.
What Counts As a Repair Attempt?
A repair attempt is counted every time a service agent authorized by the manufacturer tries to fix a reported defect.
Each repair order issued by an authorized service agent could potentially count as a repair attempt, provided it pertains to the same defect. However, only repair attempts conducted within the lemon law rights period count towards the number of attempts required under Florida’s Lemon Law.
How Many Days Can a Vehicle Be Out of Service to Qualify as a Lemon?
Under the Florida Lemon Law, if a vehicle is out of service for repair of one or more defects for a cumulative total of 30 days, not necessarily consecutively, it could potentially qualify as a lemon.
It’s important to note that the 30-day period only applies within the first 24 months that the vehicle is in service. Additionally, the manufacturer or authorized service agent must be provided an opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle.
What Counts As an Out-of-Service Day?
An out-of-service day is any day in which the vehicle was not available for use by the owner due to repairs of a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
This includes weekends, holidays, and any other day the authorized service agent’s repair facility is closed, provided the vehicle was already at the facility for repairs.
When Does the Manufacturer Have to Repurchase or Refund the Vehicle?
In Florida, if a vehicle has been subjected to at least three repair attempts for the same defect, or if it has been out of service for a cumulative total of 15 days due to one or more defects, the owner can request the manufacturer repurchase or replace the lemon. This request should be made via registered or express mail to ensure the manufacturer’s receipt.
The manufacturer must then, within 10 days, direct the consumer to a reasonably accessible repair facility for one last repair attempt. If this last repair attempt fails to fix the defect, or if the vehicle is out of service for repairs for more than 30 days, the manufacturer must offer a replacement vehicle of comparable value or a refund of the full purchase price, less a reasonable deduction for wear and tear from use.
Filing a Lemon Law Action in Florida
Filing a lemon law action in Florida involves several key steps. Firstly, the car owner must notify the manufacturer of the defect and give them a final chance to repair the vehicle. This is the final repair attempt. If the vehicle remains defective after the final repair attempt, the owner can then demand a refund or replacement from the manufacturer.
If the manufacturer fails to comply, the owner may request a hearing before the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.
The Board will then hold a lemon law hearing to review the case. If the owner’s claim is successful, they may be awarded a replacement vehicle or a refund, and the manufacturer may be required to pay the vehicle owner’s legal fees, including attorney’s fees, as well as reimburse them for other expenses related to the lemon. Your lawyer can tell you more about your specific case.
More on the Lemon Law Process
Initiating a lemon law case requires diligent record-keeping. Owners should maintain a detailed account of all repair attempts, noting the nature of the defect, the dates when the vehicle was in the repair facility, and any correspondence with the manufacturer or authorized service agent. This documentation is crucial as it serves as evidence of the vehicle’s history and the repair efforts undertaken.
It is also critical to provide the manufacturer with the opportunity to repair the vehicle. This is part of the “reasonable number of attempts” provision in the Florida Lemon Law. If a vehicle manufacturer is denied this chance, it may lead to the dismissal of the lemon law claim. After the final repair attempt, if the vehicle still substantially impairs the use, value, or safety, a demand for refund or replacement should be made in writing and sent by registered or express mail.
Legal Protections and Recourse
The Florida Lemon Law also provides for the recovery of collateral and incidental charges. This can include finance charges, insurance costs, cost of repairs, and even car rental expenses incurred due to the vehicle being out of service. You may also be able to recover reasonable attorney’s fees incurred while pursuing resolution, court costs, and other associated expenses if your claim is successful.
If the manufacturer refuses to comply with the refund or replacement request, the car owner can pursue the case further and have a lemon law attorney represent them.
Federal Warranty Laws
In addition to state laws, several federal laws provide further consumer protection. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, for instance, is a federal law that protects consumers from deceptive warranty practices. This law applies to all consumer products, including a defective vehicle, that come with a warranty and have been sold to a consumer in the United States.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, consumers may be entitled to compensation if a manufacturer fails to comply with the terms of a warranty.
How Does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Protect Consumers?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides for certain disclosures and terms in a written warranty, and as such, promotes competition and enhances consumer choice.
If a manufacturer or dealer fails to live up to their obligations under a warranty, a consumer can sue them for breach of warranty. And here’s where it benefits car owners: if the case is won, the manufacturer could be compelled to pay the consumer’s attorney’s fees, making it feasible for owners to get representation without incurring costs upfront.
This federal law complements state laws, like the Florida Lemon Law, making it an important tool for lemon law attorneys in the pursuit of justice for their clients. It also covers situations where the state lemon law might not apply, such as when the warranty extends beyond the lemon law rights period or for used cars still under warranty.
Why You Should Consult a Lemon Law Attorney
Filing a lemon law claim is a complex process involving strict procedures and timelines. The law must be properly interpreted with regard to each claim, as well, and manufacturers have their own lawyers as well as tricks for getting out of lemon law claims. An experienced lemon law attorney can guide you through the process, ensuring all your legal rights are protected.
Lemon law attorneys understand the fine print of both state and federal laws. They can identify when a car qualifies as a lemon, assist with filing claims, and represent clients during arbitration or court proceedings. This is invaluable, as it levels the playing field with car manufacturers and their legal teams, who are well-versed in these laws and often have vast resources at their disposal.
About Working With Jonathan D. Schwartz
Jonathan’s approach involves a 100% remote model. No need to juggle schedules for in-person meetings with your motor vehicle in the shop; you can communicate with him at your own convenience. There are no clerks or go-betweens; you work directly with Jonathan for lemon law relief, receiving his undivided attention and benefiting from his decades of experience.
The process is simple yet efficient. First, Jonathan reaches out to discuss the case further. Then you decide if you wish to engage his services. From there, Jonathan works diligently to get lemon law cases resolved.
Clients can take comfort in the fact that there are no upfront costs. The case evaluation and review are done free of charge. Attorney fees apply only if the case is won.
In Florida, vehicle owners should turn to Jonathan D. Schwartz, who has over 20 years of experience handling thousands of successful lemon law claims. For those struggling with a Florida lemon, the first step towards resolution and relief is a phone call. Contact Jonathan D. Schwartz now at 786-767-6964, no matter what county you’re in.