If you’ve recently purchased a new car in Virginia and it proves to be a “lemon,” your first thought might not be to hire an attorney. After all, the Virginia lemon law is there to protect consumers against defective cars that fail to meet expectations—surely filing a Virginia lemon law claim is as easy as simply filing some paperwork?
Even though Virginia’s lemon law was created to help protect consumers from such situations, successfully pursuing a lemon law claim can often be tricky – which is why it helps to have the assistance of an experienced Virginia lemon law attorney.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the value of hiring an attorney familiar with lemon law claims and how they can help you prevail in your claim to get the vehicle manufacturer to refund your money or replace your vehicle.
If you think your new car is a lemon, time is of the essence when it comes to filing a Virginia lemon law claim. At PJI Law, PLC, our team is here to help you get out of a lemon and back in the driver’s seat. Contact us at (703) 865-6100 for personalized service and attention.
Lemons and Defective Vehicles
To better understand lemon law claims, let’s first explore the concept of “lemons” and defective vehicles.
The term “lemon” in the context of the lemon law is believed to have originated from early 20th-century American slang, where it was used to describe a product or item found to be defective or subpar. The term likely comes from the sour taste of a lemon, which is often associated with something undesirable or unpleasant.
The phrase was initially used informally to describe faulty cars or other consumer products. Over time, the term “lemon” became more widely recognized and eventually entered the legal realm.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many states in the United States began adopting consumer protection laws specifically aimed at addressing the issue of defective vehicles. These laws became known as “lemon laws” and were designed to protect consumers who purchased or leased new vehicles with significant defects.
What is the Virginia Lemon Law?
The Virginia lemon law, also known as the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, protects consumers who have purchased or leased new vehicles with significant defects. If your vehicle is determined to be a lemon, you’re entitled to a refund or a replacement vehicle.
Which vehicles are covered?
Passenger cars, pickup trucks, panel trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, and self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes are covered under the Virginia lemon law.
Any defects must have been present at the time of purchase or developed soon after. The term “lemon” is used to describe these defective motor vehicles.
What about used vehicles?
The lemon law primarily aims to protect new vehicle buyers, but used vehicles may be covered if the previous owner purchased it new within the 18-month timeframe. If a used vehicle meets the lemon law criteria, it can qualify for the same protections as a new vehicle.
While successful lemon law claims have been made for used vehicles in Virginia, the process can be more challenging. If you believe your used motor vehicle meets the criteria, it’s crucial to consult a lemon law attorney.
You must file a claim under the Virginia lemon law within 18 months following the date you first received your vehicle. Your vehicle may be classified as a lemon if it meets the following criteria:
- The vehicle underwent repairs for the same defect at least three times without fixing the issue,
- One or more attempts was made to fix a serious safety problem, or
- The vehicle was out of service for at least 30 days.
Benefits of Hiring a Virginia Lemon Law Attorney
Engaging an attorney to assist with your lemon law claim can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are the main reasons to consider seeking legal help:
Increased compensation with legal representation
Claimants who work with an attorney often receive higher compensation compared to those who handle the case on their own.
Experience in lemon law litigation
A skilled lemon law attorney is well-versed in the nuances of the law, enabling them to anticipate challenges and devise strategies to secure the best possible outcome for your case.
Comprehensive legal guidance and support
An attorney can provide valuable insights into the legal process, inform you of your rights, guide you on the most effective course of action, and support you throughout your dispute with the vehicle manufacturer.
Faster resolution and better outcome
Retaining an attorney can expedite the resolution of your lemon law claim. Vehicle manufacturers are more likely to respond promptly when they know a claimant has legal representation.
Hiring an attorney for your lemon law claim can also lead to better outcomes, a smoother process, and faster resolution, without incurring additional costs.
Arbitration and Legal Proceedings
In Virginia, a significant number of lemon law claims result in arbitration. Manufacturers often encourage vehicle owners to undergo arbitration independently rather than seek more effective legal remedies with an attorney’s assistance.
However, you have the right to accept or decline arbitration. If you decide to proceed with arbitration, it is advisable to have a lawyer represent your interests. Your attorney can help you:
- Prepare for the arbitration hearing
- Gather necessary evidence
- Present a persuasive argument on your behalf
If you choose not to engage in arbitration, your Virginia lemon law attorney can attempt to settle the matter directly with the manufacturer or take the case to court. You may be entitled to receive the vehicle’s value and additional expenses, such as attorney’s fees.
Hiring a Virginia lemon law attorney can be a game-changer when dealing with a lemon vehicle. Their experience, negotiation skills, and familiarity with Virginia lemon law can help ensure a successful outcome in your lemon law claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does a lemon law claim typically take?
A: The duration of a lemon law claim can vary depending on the case’s complexity and the manufacturer’s willingness to settle. It can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.
Q: Can I handle a lemon law claim on my own?
A: While handling a lemon law claim on your own is possible, it is generally not recommended. The process can be complex, and having an experienced attorney can significantly increase your chances of success.
Q: What if my vehicle doesn’t meet the specific criteria for a lemon under Virginia law?
A: Even if your vehicle doesn’t meet the strict criteria for a lemon under Virginia law, you may still have options for pursuing a claim under federal law or other consumer protection laws. Consult with a lemon law attorney to discuss your specific situation.
Q: Can I file a lemon law claim for a used vehicle?
A: Virginia lemon law primarily covers new vehicles. However, if your used vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s warranty and meets the criteria for a lemon, you may be eligible for a claim. Additionally, other consumer protection laws may apply to your situation. It’s best to consult with a lemon law attorney to determine your options.
Get the Help You Need for Your Lemon Law Claim with PJI Law, PLC
Don’t let a lemon vehicle cause you unnecessary stress if you need to file a lemon law claim. Reach out to the experienced team at PJI Law for the guidance and support you need to navigate the complex lemon law process.
Our dedicated lemon law lawyers will work diligently to help you obtain the compensation or replacement vehicle you’re entitled to. Contact PJI Law today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward resolving your lemon law claim so you can get back in the driver’s seat.
At PJI Law, PLC, each client receives our complete dedication, personal attention, and courteous, white-glove service.
Ready to take the next step and get started on your claim? Call our office at (703) 865-6100, or complete our online form to schedule your consultation with our Fairfax, Virginia, lemon law legal team today.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.