Pennsylvania Lemon Law Attorney
For many, the opportunity to buy a new car is not only the culmination of years of hard work but also a significant investment in their future. Unfortunately, many new vehicles can have defects that leave the owner stranded or even increase the risk of an accident.
If you purchased a new car in Pennsylvania and can’t keep it out of the shop, the state’s lemon law can help you remedy the situation by providing you with a new vehicle. An experienced Pennsylvania lemon law attorney from The Levin Firm can help you exercise your rights under this important law.
What Is a Lemon?
In legal terms, a lemon refers to a newly purchased or leased vehicle with a defect the:
- Impairs its use, value, or safety
- Requires more than three repair attempts to fix
- Requires at least 30 days out of use.
What Is Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law?
As explained by PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law requires a vehicle manufacturer that has less than 12,000 miles of use or is under a year old to repair or correct any defect free of charge. If the manufacturer cannot fix the defect in a reasonable time, the manufacturer must pay for a replacement vehicle or refund the purchase price of the defective vehicle.
If the manufacturer fails to repair or replace the defective vehicle, the owner can then request arbitration through the manufacturer’s settlement program if they have one. Failure by the manufacturer to take action on the claim or provide a remedy through arbitration can entitle the vehicle owner to seek compensation through a lawsuit.
What Vehicles Are Subject to the Lemon Law?
Pennsylvania’s lemon law applies to newly purchased or leased vehicles registered in Pennsylvania and used for personal, family, or household purposes. The law doesn’t cover commercial trucks, motorcycles, motor homes, or off-road vehicles. It only covers vehicles less than a year old, with less than 12,000 miles, or that still meet the terms of the manufacturer’s express warranty—whichever comes first.
The law allows the manufacturer three attempts to repair the problem. The vehicle’s owner must take the vehicle to the dealership for each repair attempt. The dealer must provide you with an itemized list of the repairs made and notify the manufacturer if the vehicle comes in for subsequent repairs of the same problem.
The Lemon Law also applies to vehicles in the shop for repairs for 30 days in the first year or 12,000 miles of driving. However, the lemon law does not apply to vehicle defects resulting from the owner’s abuse, neglect, or vehicle alteration.
The Push to Add Motorcycles to the Pennsylvania Lemon Law
In January 2021, state senator Michele Brooks introduced legislation that would change the state’s existing lemon law to include motorcycles. The Senate’s bill history shows the legislation passed the full Senate with 47-0 before being sent to the House Consumer Affairs Committee, which tabled it in November 2021. By tabling the bill, the lawmakers have the right to pick it up for reconsideration, discussion, or even vote at a later date.
How to File a Lemon Law Claim
To file a lemon law claim, you must take your vehicle to the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility. Taking it to your usual shop generally results in repairs that do not count toward the claim and can even void the protection afforded by the state’s lemon law. If you cannot safely transport the vehicle to the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility, you must inform the manufacturer so they can arrange transportation for you.
The manufacturer has three attempts to repair the problem and must provide a detailed statement of work done after every attempt. If the defect remains and substantially impairs the value, safety, or use of the vehicle, you can demand a refund or replacement of the vehicle after three repair attempts.
The manufacturer can receive a price cut for your vehicle use but cannot reduce by more than 10 percent of the purchase price or $0.10 per mile driven before you seek repairs. The mileage offset cannot exceed $1,200 because the lemon law only applies to vehicles with up to 12,000 miles.
What You May Receive
Through a Pennsylvania lemon law claim, you can receive one of the following:
- A refund of the vehicle’s purchase price, minus the manufacturer’s offset of up to 10 percent of the purchase price to account for mileage before repairs.
- A replacement of the same year, make, and model vehicle.
- If a vehicle of the same year, make, and model is unavailable, you can obtain a replacement vehicle of a different make and model of equal value.
If you allow the manufacturer to repurchase the vehicle from you, they must refund the purchase price, including down payment, net trade-in allowance, and any payments made. Additionally, the manufacturer must pay off the balance you owe on a car loan for the vehicle.
Consumers who have been affected by Pennsylvania’s lemon law often want to keep the vehicle and obtain a cash settlement. An attorney can often help negotiate settlement terms that allow for this.
Will the Manufacturer Just Resell the Defective Vehicle to Someone Else?
Pennsylvania’s lemon law prevents the manufacturer or dealer from selling a vehicle that came into their possession due to defects unless:
- The new owner has the same express warranty as was initially provided on the vehicle for 12,000 miles or one year after the resale or transfer of lease of the vehicle, whichever is earlier.
- The new owner must receive a written statement noting that the manufacturer had repurchased the vehicle because it did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty, and they failed to cure the non-conformity within a reasonable amount of time per state law.
What Happens if the manufacturer Can’t Find the Defect?
Often, an individual will take their vehicle to the dealership for repairs, only to have the repair personnel state they could not locate or diagnose the issue. Intermittent issues are covered in Pennsylvania’s lemon law by stating that the customer must merely complain of the issue to the dealership to count as a repair attempt, rather than only counting attempts where the dealer was able to formally diagnose a problem.
What Is a Breach of Warranty Claim?
If your vehicle has over 12,000 miles but it is still under warranty and you experience defects that would otherwise subject the manufacturer to a lemon law claim, you can seek relief through a breach of warranty claim.
A breach of warranty claim is filed in court seeking monetary compensation for the impact of the vehicle’s defects and attorney fees and court costs associated with pursuing the claim. Like a lemon law claim, a breach of warranty requires the manufacturer to make reasonable attempts to repair the issue. Generally, the law considers three attempts reasonable, and you can file your claim after that even if the manufacturer eventually repairs it on subsequent attempts.
What Happens if a Lemon Car Causes an Accident?
One of the primary purposes of Pennsylvania’s lemon law is to protect manufacturers from defects that can compromise the vehicle’s safety. If you were involved in an accident that resulted from defects you were attempting to repair through the state’s lemon law, the manufacturer or dealer could be liable for injuries and property damage caused through a product liability personal injury claim.
Manufacturers can be held strictly liable for defective products resulting in injury or property damage, even if the damage was not the result of negligence.
The defects that can give rise to a product liability claim in Pennsylvania include:
- Design defects in the product’s engineered blueprint before manufacturing that impair the safety of all vehicles manufactured using that particular design.
- Manufacturing defects from a mistake or mishap during the manufacturing process affecting an entire lot of vehicles or vehicle parts manufactured simultaneously.
- Packaging defects, including the vehicle’s owner’s manual or warning labels on the vehicle parts that inform the consumer of proper use and inform them of known risks resulting from normal use.
In most cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help a claimant demand compensation through the manufacturer’s liability insurance provider and negotiate with that provider to obtain a settlement on behalf of the claimant. Those injured from a vehicle defect have two years in Pennsylvania to file their claim in court if the manufacturer’s insurer fails to pay the claim or offers an unfair settlement for the expenses and impacts of the injuries.
The type of compensation available through a defective vehicle claim includes medical expenses, wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, property damage resulting from the accident, physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Those eligible to file a product liability claim for a defective vehicle include the driver of the vehicle and passengers, the occupants of other vehicles, and other roadway users such as motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians injured.
How a Pennsylvania Lemon Law Attorney Can Help
An experienced lemon law attorney can provide several services to help with your claim, including:
- Determining if you satisfy the required three attempts to have your warrantied vehicle repaired and explaining the process of filing a lemon law or breach of warranty claim.
- Assisting you in demanding a resolution for your issue from the manufacturer, with your options of resolving the claim including obtaining a replacement vehicle or being refunded the cost of the vehicle’s purchase price, less the manufacturer’s offset.
- Helping you seek a remedy in court if the manufacturer fails to provide a reasonable refund or replace the defective vehicle.
We Can Help You With Your Lemon Law Claim
A new vehicle is often a major milestone for the owner. The average commute time for Pennsylvania drivers is nearly 27 minutes to work each day. The average driver will spend nearly an hour every day in their vehicle just going to work, with even more time spent transporting family members to school, running errands, and driving to entertainment venues. With that much time spent on the road, drivers deserve a safe and reliable vehicle.
If it seems like your new car spends more time in the repair shop than it does on the road, you could be driving a lemon. Let an experienced lemon law attorney from The Levin Firm help you understand the process of filing a lemon law claim so you can be back on the road and whole again. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or call (215) 825-5183.
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The Levin Firm
1500 John F Kennedy Blvd #620
Philadelphia, PA 19102