If you haven't read the article on “Coverage Under Florida's Lemon Law, " you're strongly encouraged to read that first so that you're clear on what vehicles, under what circumstances are and aren't covered by the Florida Lemon Laws. This article is about the procedures which are necessary when you decide to pursue your rights under the Florida Lemon Laws.
Your first concern is how long has it been since you bought the vehicle. A Lemon Law action can be brought during what is generally called the “Lemon Law Rights Period. " This period is the eighteen (18) months beginning on the original delivery date or the first twenty-four thousand (24,000) miles. The period ends with whichever occurs first.
The process required often seems to be both long and complicated. While it can be discouraging at first, if you are willing to be patient, stay with it and be sure to follow the procedures carefully, you can succeed. Don't give up and don't let anything discourage you from trying.
What follows is an outline of the process, the basic requirements and the steps involved:
First, within the Lemon Law Rights Period, there must have been either (a) a minimum of three attempts by the manufacturer or its agent to repair the vehicle for the same defect (b) the vehicle must have been unusable for reason of attempted repair by the manufacturer (or its agent) for one or more defects for a total of thirty days or more. This does not include any periods for maintenance dictated by the owner's manual.
Second, when vehicle reaches a cumulative total of fifteen or more days being out of service for repair by the manufacturer or its agent for one or more defects, the owner is required to give written notice of the need for repair, by registered or express mail, to the manufacturer. Then the manufacturer has one last chance to fix the defect.
Third, if this final attempt at repair fails, then manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the motor vehicle within forty days. However, it isn't automatic. You must continue to follow the proper procedures to enforce your rights by following these steps:
If the manufacturer has a dispute-settlement procedure then you need to apply under that procedure. Not every manufacturer does, so be sure to check with the manufacturer.
If you're not pleased with the decision of the manufacturer's dispute-settlement procedure, you can then apply to be heard by the State of Florida's New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.
If Florida's New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board declines to hear the case OR it hears the case but makes a ruling against you, you can now file the case in Circuit Court. If you are appealing from a ruling against you by the Board, you need to do it within 30 (thirty) days of that ruling.
In the most general terms, the covered vehicle must have been subject to repair for the same defect (which impairs the value, safety or usability of the vehicle) for at least thirty (30) days. This must occur during the Lemon Law Rights Period. You must also be acting in good faith and must follow the law in providing proper notice to the manufacturer. Finally, you will need to submit to arbitration.
The Office of the Attorney General has published more complete information in “Preserving Your Rights Under The Lemon Law. " You can obtain this publication through the Division of Consumer Services at: (800)321-5366 or by writing to:
Office of the Attorney General
Lemon Law Research Unit
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
E. B. Randall writes on a variety of subjects including issues such as lemon law vehicles. If you live in Florida and if you think you have a lemon car or truck, read this and visit http://lemon-law.werkz.info for more about how to cope with anothe rpiece of automotive lemon junk.