Auto Fraud vs Lemon Law: Which Type of Lawyer do You Need
“Lemon law” is a catch all term used to cover a wide variety of topics. On Avvo any questions related to vehicles are tagged Lemon law because there is no Auto Fraud category. This guide will help you determine if you need a Lemon law or Auto Fraud attorney without before you start your search.
What does a Lemon law attorney handleThere are over 100 law firms in California who handle what I call a traditional Lemon law claim. These claims almost exclusively involve cars, trucks, and SUVs that were purchased or leased new and (1) develop a mechanical, electrical, or software defect which impaired the use, value, or safety of the vehicle; (2) is covered under the manufacturer’s basic or power train warranty; (3) and is not repaired after a reasonable opportunity. Common issues involve the engine, transmission, suspension, infotainment system, warning lights, and odd sounds.
What does an Auto Fraud attorney handleThere are only a handful of Auto Fraud law firms in California. Auto Fraud attorneys handle a variety of consumer claims involving a vehicle (new and used), including the traditional Lemon Law claims above. Below is a short explanation of the types of claims handled by Auto Fraud attorneys. All of these claims can be used for any type of consumer vehicle (including RVs and boats).
Express Warranty - These are claims that dealer of manufacturer failed to repair a vehicle under warranty. This is the traditional Lemon law claims mentioned above but expanded to include used cars sold with a warranty.
Implied Warranty - every vehicle is sold with implied warranties unless it is sold As-Is. the two commons implied warranties are the implied warranty of merchantability are implied warrant of fitness. The implied warranty of merchantability has four components which boil down to (1) would someone be willing to buy the vehicle based on the description if they knew the truth about the vehicle (described as “no accident” but actually had structural damage) OR was the vehicle properly labeled (labeled as a 2020 Civic but is actually a 2019 Civic). The implied warranty of fitness is a somewhat rare claim where the consumer told the dealer about their intended use for the vehicle as relied on the dealer to select a vehicle that would accomplish that use (consumer says they need a vehicle that can tow a horse trailer and the dealer selects the wrong).
Fraud & Deceit / Negligent Misrepresentation - these claims involve intentional or negligent misrepresentations about the vehicle or concealment of a known problem. Common examples are undisclosed accidents, undisclosed mechanical problems, failure to smog, selling a vehicle without title, charging more than the advertised price, overcharging governmental fees, packing (adding items like service agreements to the purchase contract without telling you), odometer rollbacks, used cars sold as “new,” and any other material misrepresentation about the vehicle or the terms of the contract.
Automobile Sales Finance Act - this Act is the reasons your purchase contracts have that long itemization. Every product, fee, tax, and payment must be disclosed is a specific way in order to comply with the Act. Common claims include failing to accurately disclose the downpayment terms, failing to include all of the payment terms in a single document, and undisclosed finance charges.
Rosenthal / Unfair Debt Collection Practices Act - this is a whole practice area unto itself and covering any consumer debt collection tactics like repeatedly calling you, swearing at you, threats, harassment, contacting your friends/family/employer, and collecting on debts not owed. Some Auto Fraud attorneys will handle any type of consumer debt while others will limit themselves to just debts involving a vehicle. One of the most common claims in this area is the finance company demanding you continue to make payments even though the dealer didn’t have/transfer title after the sale.
The long and short of it is, if you think you got cheated in relation to a vehicle, ask an Auto Fraud attorney for a free case evaluation.