Know Your Rights: The California Lemon Law

If you’ve recently purchased a new car and you’re spending more time repairing it than actually driving, then you may have a “lemon” on your hands. Luckily, the California Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers from losing money on faulty new and leased vehicles.

A purchaser or lessee of a vehicle has various rights under both state and federal law if a vehicle does not perform as it should under a warranty. It should be noted that the laws as described are not substitutes for contacting your own lawyer who can best advise you on your rights and the circumstances of your case.

What is the California Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law requires a vehicle manufacturer that is unable to repair a vehicle to conform to their own warranty after a reasonable amount of repair attempts to replace or repurchase the vehicle. The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles sold or leased in California that come with manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. Types of vehicles include: cars, pickup trucks, vans, SUVs and motorhomes.

History of the Law (The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act)

In 1970, California enacted the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which required all manufacturers to repurchase or replace faulty products which they failed to fix after a reasonable number of repair attempts. The act applies to many consumer goods, not just vehicles. In regards to automobiles, the law requires that if the manufacturer or its representative in the state, like an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of a written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required to promptly replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer. The Lessee or buyer is free to choose whether to accept a replacement or a refund. No matter the choice, the manufacturer must also pay for sales or use tax, license, registration, other official fees, and incidental damages that the lessee or buyer may have incurred, like repair, towing, and rental car costs. Song-Beverly has a four-year statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit for breach of warranty or violations. Nevertheless, it should be done promptly in an attempt to resolve the problem fairly and quickly.

The Lemon Law Presumption & What Is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts

Within the Song-Beverly Act, there is a guideline that helps identify if a vehicle is a “lemon.” The following criteria must be met within 18 months of delivery to the buyer / lessee or if 18,000 miles have accrued on the vehicle’s odometer, or whichever comes first.

  • The manufacturer or agents have made two or more attempts to repair a warranty problem that has the potential to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven.
  • The manufacturer has made four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem, or the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days, while being repaired for any number of warranty problems.
  • Several problems arise which are covered by the warranty and substantially reduce the vehicle’s use, value or its safety to the consumer, and are not caused by abuse of the vehicle

If these criteria are met, the Lemon Law presumes that the buyer or lessee is entitled to a replacement vehicle or refund of the purchase price. If required by the warranty materials, the consumer must notify the manufacturer about the problem(s), preferably in writing. The notice must be sent to the address shown on the warranty or owner’s manual.

The “Lemon Law” presumption is a guide, not an absolute rule. A judge or arbitrator must determine if the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of chances to repair the vehicle if all the conditions are met.

If you have purchased or leased a new vehicle that is under warranty and already showing faulty, or potentially life threatening problems, you may have a Lemon Law Case on your hand. Don’t let the manufacturer take advantage, protect yourself and your new investment.

Call Legal One Law Group today for a free consultation: (818) 480-6732

Experiencing an injury is terrifying.

I know, because it happened to me.

I was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Halloween night, eight years ago. There was a huge party held in a large industrial warehouse with multiple interactive exhibits. One of them was a net that spanned all the way to the roof acting as a massive hammock that people were relaxing on.

“Let’s climb that!” My friend Kal exclaimed.

“I don’t know. I’m pretty tired.” I sheepishly replied.

“Don’t be a wuss! Let’s go!”

Feeling egged on, I took his challenge and we climbed up the net. The only problem was there were too many people, and I had to go higher and higher to find space. By the time I had climbed to the very top of the net, there was a resounding THWIP! Suddenly its ropes became limp in my hands and I went into freefall. Before I could react, my body struck concrete and pain arced up my spine like a bolt of lightning.

Instantly I thought I was paralyzed.

I lay on the ground, unable to move, screaming in pain. Kal was at my side, trying to help but not knowing what to do. Meanwhile, the club owners had come over but weren’t concerned about me, but instead yearned to clear the scene so that they could resume the party. In fact, they didn’t even speak directly to me, or even try. Kal called an ambulance, and when medical aid arrived they put me on a stretcher and hauled me to the hospital. I waited for hours before the doctor could see me. Medical assistants x-rayed my spine and found that I had fractured my coccyx, which is a fancy way of saying tailbone.

It was painful and I had to spend several weeks recuperating. During this time, a college friend told me that his father was a personal injury lawyer, and that he would take my case. Trusting my friend, I agreed.

My friend’s father had a law office in Manhattan and a house in Brooklyn. He had the outward appearance of success and most importantly he was a family connection. I felt like I had made the right decision. I was wrong.

It took two years to go through my case. And in those two years I received almost no updates and little information. I rarely followed up, but when I did, my friend’s father expressed annoyance. Worse, he encouraged me to see doctor’s who told me little about my condition, but just wanted me to keep coming in so that they could collect fees when the case was settled. They were not invested in fixing me at all. Everything about the situation seemed exceptionally shady.

One day, I had had enough, and I went to pay a personal visit to “my lawyer” in the city. It was the first time I’d been to his office, and I was utterly shocked. His office was a complete mess. Towers of paper, nearly as tall as a person were scattered throughout the small workplace. He was a hoarder. When I stepped into his personal office, it was just the same. In fact, there was no place for a visitor to sit! I stood in his office, shocked, and annoyed with myself for not having taken more time to select my lawyer, especially when we were this deep into the case. However, he assured me, that things were moving along, and everything would be fine.

Six months later, he asked me to come to his house – the defendants had offered a settlement. When I got to his home, he slipped me a piece of paper with a settlement number that was insultingly low. I told him so – and he insisted that I take it.

“But I have chronic back pain and am in my 20’s. I feel pain everyday.”

“So take an Aspirin!” He yelled.

At that point, I became furious and spoke with cold precision. “Don’t you realize … the more I earn, the more you earn.” His whole family was standing around him, including my friend, and they were nodding their heads in embarrassed agreement.

The next day he called me and obtained triple the initial fee that was first offered to me. At the time it seemed like a lot of money, but it wasn’t. In reality, my injury was three times the final amount. But what did I know? I was a kid in his twenties – and I figured this injury would eventually fade away. The pain would probably only last  a few more years. Again, I was wrong.

It’s been eight years since the injury, and I still get pain from it.  From my early twenties through today, I’ve had to do special stretches to help manage the discomfort. In other words, the pain is chronic.

If I could turn back time, I would’ve done my research and gotten lawyers who really knew what they were doing. I would’ve signed with a firm who was actually looking out for my interests, recognizing that if I was their client, our interests are mutual.

For the brief time that I’ve worked with Legal One Law Group, I immediately admired how organized and dedicated they are to getting the most for their clients. Understanding their needs and fighting for what they deserve. They are in it for the long haul, not for the quick buck. Because in the in the end, life is short, and an injury could make it even shorter, or adversely affect its quality.  They know this, they care, and they’ll do what it takes to safeguard their clients, getting the best treatment they need and with proper compensation.

It’s one thing to be injured, it’s another to be cheated. The team at Legal One Law Group will make sure that neither happen to their clients.

If you or someone you know has been unlawfully injured, be sure to contact Legal One Law Group. Call today for a free consultation:

(818) 480-6732

When the first jolt hit, Fullerton Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn was on the couch getting his 4- and 8-year-old daughters ready for bed.

As Sebourn rushed his screaming girls toward the door, another violent lurch knocked the mayor and one of his daughters to the floor. Sebourn skinned his knee and his daughter bumped her head on a door jamb.

On Saturday, the mayor was thankful their injuries weren’t worse. “It’s the strongest jolt I’ve ever felt, and I’ve been in the same town for 41 years,” he said.

PHOTOS: 5.1 quake rattles L.A., Orange County

A series of temblors, punctuated by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake Friday night near La Habra, did more than rattle nerves. Residents in some areas of the hardest-hit communities of La Habra, Brea and Fullerton spent Saturday dealing with no water service, spotty power, crumbled brick walls and other damage.

They were the lucky ones.

Authorities estimated more than 100 people were displaced by the quake at least for a night and some may not be able to return home for days.

In Fullerton, 83 people were displaced after firefighters deemed six residences and 20 apartment units too damaged to occupy. City building officials must survey the structures one by one and clear them before residents can return, said Tom Schultz, deputy chief of operations for the Fullerton Fire Department.

All of those displaced in Fullerton chose to stay with family and friends instead of going to an emergency shelter, Shultz said. In La Habra, authorities said 38 people, including seven children, spent the night at a Red Cross shelter.

“We were told many of them were living in a building that was uninhabitable,” Red Cross spokeswoman Meredith Mills said.

In Buena Park, a 60-year-old man was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries after a TV toppled on him, Schultz said.

Is your home earthquake ready?

For most, the biggest headache was clearing away the aftermath of the quake, which was preceded and followed by a series of smaller nerve-rattling temblors that continued into Saturday. About 2:30 p.m., a shallow magnitude 4.1 earthquake hit the nearby Rowland Heights area but no damage or major injuries were reported.

Friday night’s shaking left scattered damage across the La Habra area, near the quake’s epicenter, hitting houses, apartments and businesses as well as street lights that were left dangling precariously.

“From 20 to 30 businesses suffered broken plate-glass windows, many of them along Whittier Boulevard,” La Habra Police Sgt. David Crivelli said. “There were also some apartments with stucco damage and leaking water.”

By 10:30 p.m. Friday, residents had been evacuated from apartment units in the 2500 block of West Whittier Boulevard, the 400 block of North Idaho Street and the 700 block of West 1st Avenue. An L.A. Fitness center near Imperial Highway and Beach Boulevard had water running off the roof.

In Brea, officials were working to repair a broken water main.

Wayne Sass of Fullerton said a large picture covered with glass flew nine feet off the wall and shattered within inches of his terrified 9-year-old son. There was broken glass in every room and some cracks in the home’s stucco, he said.

The use of social media is becoming more and more common. In fact, as of January 2014, 74 percent of adults who used the internet also used social media sites, a Pew Research Center report found. (Since that time, it is estimated that that number has grown.) As social media provides a forum for individuals to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and photos, it makes sense that some people who have been injured in an accident turn to social media to share details. However, social media effects on a personal injury claim can be negative, and using social media while in the midst of the claims process is not advised.

The following considers what you need to know about how social media affects your personal injury claim:

 

Social Media Posts Can Be Detrimental to Your Claim of Physical Injury

People who are pursuing a personal injury claim are usually doing so because, in part, they have suffered physical injuries, such as a broken leg, chronic pain, concussion, traumatic brain injury, soft tissue injury, etc. As such, they are seeking damages for two things: first, expenses associated with the injury such as the costs of staying in a hospital, and second, noneconomic damages for pain and suffering that resulted as a direct consequence of the physical injury.

In order to substantiate these damages, a claimant will usually call upon medical experts, as well as any other specialists or witnesses, including family and friends, who can testify to the claimant’s pain. The job of the defense, or the person / party against whom the claim is being filed, is to do the opposite — try to drag up evidence that suggests that damages are not nearly as severe as the claimant purports. One of the best sources of evidence is social media profiles.

Consider a claimant who is seeking damages for chronic pain, some loss of mobility, and an inability to enjoy physical activities that he or she once loved, such as hiking. The defense scours through the claimant’s social media pages and stumbles upon photographic evidence that suggests the contrary — photos of the claimant enjoying a beautiful hike in the mountains, while smiling, and with friends. As a result, the judge rules that the claimant is not entitled to compensation for these damages as the photos show clear and convincing evidence of not only the claimant’s physical capabilities, but of his or her enjoyment of life as well. (Note: This example is based on the true story of Fotini Kourtesis, who claimed that a rear-end collision left her unable to dance or wrestle with her brother. Facebook pictures showed her being lifted into the air with her brother and dancing after the accident, and the judge ruled against her. You can read more about this in Evidence of Life on Facebook, published in Slate.)

 

Evidence on Social Media Can Be Used Against You to Disprove Claims of Emotional Distress

In addition to physical injuries, those who are involved in accidents often suffer emotional distress as well. Loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, depression, and withdrawal and isolation are all things that have been reported by those involved in accidents. And, just like with physical injuries, a claimant who wants to be compensated for his or her emotional injuries must offer proof.

The defense in a personal injury claim may turn to Facebook and other social media sites or forums, such as a claimant’s personal blog, in order to disprove claims of emotional distress, depression, etc. And the evidence that they use may be more surprising than you would think. Rather than the obvious — such as pictures of the claimant enjoying life or smiling amongst friends — the defense may use something as seemingly innocuous as posts on the claimant’s page wishing the claimant a happy birthday, while making the claim that if the claimant was socially isolated and friendless, he or she would not receive birthday wishes from so many other users. Although the link between birthday wishes on a Facebook page and depression may seem loose, be sure that the defense will pull upon anything they can in order to reduce the amount of money they are liable for.

 

Are My Social Media Postings Public Record?

The examples above raise a question of privacy, with those who have been injured in an accident asking, “Is my social media public record?” The answer is yes. Anything that you post publicly on the internet, or that others post about you, may be used as evidence and therefore used against you during a personal injury claim. Private messages cannot be accessed without consent or a warrant. Anything else, however, is up for grabs.

 

Best Practices for Social Media

Posting anything online after an accident may be dangerous to your claim, even if you think that what you are posting is harmless or is in no way related to your injury. After you have been in an accident, you should temporarily suspend all of your social media accounts. At the very least, you should be sure that your account is set to private, and that you do not accept any new friend requests during the time period after your accident. You should also ask friends and family members to refrain from posting anything related to you after your accident and to set their profiles to private as well.

It has been more than two months since the Bluecut Fire, but residents unknowingly continue to suffer its aftermath.

Though homeowners living in the High Desert are no strangers to brushfires, most are not aware of what smoke and ash damage is, the negative effects that follow it, what their rights as homeowners are and what measures need to be taken in order to restore the property back to its pre-damaged state.

 

Contamination?

While homes in the High Desert area appear to be “clean,” they are far from it. The evasive nature of smoke and ash allow it to travel through the structure of a house, where it will linger unless professionally cleaned. For instance, the ash builds up and gets trapped within air conditioning ducts and filters, and consequently contaminates the air being blown from the air conditioning system.

Moreover, all fabric based materials (e.g., carpets, couches, drapes and clothes) within the home absorb and retain the smoke unless professionally cleaned. Accordingly, adverse health effects will continue to linger unless proper measures are taken to restore the property.

 

Common health effects

The aforementioned smoke and ash damage has caused thousands of residents to suffer a broad range of health effects. While these health effects have been exacerbated for many, they are newly developed for some. Common medical effects include asthma, bronchitis, wheezing, coughing, allergies, migraines, constipation and nausea.

Some homeowners even have noted that eating fruits and vegetables from their garden that were exposed to the smoke and ash cause them to have an upset stomach.

 

Why do law firms send out informative fliers?

Some skeptics like to label these types of fliers as “unsolicited” forms of advertisement. However, the reality is that homeowners are kept in the dark and are unaware as to what the damages are and who they can turn to for help.

After talking to thousands of homeowners, we found that an alarmingly low percentage of homeowners actually are aware that their Homeowner Insurance Policies cover smoke and ash damage, and those who are aware either know because they filed a claim in the past or a friend or family member passed on a letter they received from a law firm.

As unfortunate as this is, do we actually expect the insurance companies to notify their insureds that they can file a smoke, ash and soot claim and receive money for purposes of restoring their house? Probably not.

Thus, firms like Legal One Law Group send out these informative fliers to homeowners in order to inform them of their rights before it’s too late.

While most are unaware of this sort of coverage, others have suffered at the hands of their insurance company. They may have filed a claim, been pushed around by their insurance company and received an extremely low and unfair settlement.

Homeowners are susceptible to accepting low settlements for these types of claims because smoke and ash damage is not visible to an untrained eye and thus it is difficult for a homeowner to competently advocate for a larger settlement.

Therefore, law firms send out experienced field representatives to ensure that all damages are accounted for at the time of inspection and attorneys will zealously negotiate a settlement until the final amount is a fair representation of how much damage a home has incurred.

Homeowners need to know that they have remedies for the damage that their homes have suffered, whether this knowledge is gained through experience or through an informative flier.

Homeowners no longer need to be lost and alone. They have somewhere they can turn and someone they can count of for help.

Legal One Law Group has a fire specialist on staff who is trained and well versed in smoke, ash and soot damage. In addition, Gayane Gevorkian, the managing attorney, has a vast amount of experience in representing homeowners in claims against insurance companies.

If you are a homeowner and have suffered any of the above mentioned medical effects within the past few months or have witnessed smoke and ash on your property as a result of the fire, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Legal One Law Group, APC, is at 121 W. Lexington, Suite 307, Glendale, CA 91203. For information, call 818-480-6732 or email info@legalonelaw.com. Nothing in this article is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Articles and hosted comments are available for general educational purposes only and should not be used to assess a specific legal situation. Nor does any comment on an article create an attorney-client relationship.