When you buy a vehicle, you have certain expectations. The car should be safe and get you from Point A to Point B without any issues. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even the most reliable car brands are guilty of putting out lemons (defective vehicles) from time to time.
If you find yourself the owner of a faulty car, you may be wondering if you have legal recourse. After all, you didn’t ask for a defective vehicle. The good news is that you may be able to file a lemon law claim or product liability claim against the manufacturer.
So, what’s the difference between lemon and product liability claims, and how do you know which is right for your case? Let’s take a closer look.
Lemon Law Vs. Product Liability Claims
Let’s start with the basics and define each term.
All states have their own lemon laws that protect consumers who purchase defective vehicles. These laws vary from state to state, but they all have one goal in common: to help consumers get relief from problematic cars.
In most states, to be considered a lemon under this law, a car must:
- Be covered under the manufacturer or dealer warranty when the defect or nonconformity was first reported; and
- Have one or more defects/nonconformities that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety; and
- Have been subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts by a manufacturer-certified facility to fix the defect/nonconformity; or
- The defect or nonconformity must not have been caused by driver abuse or neglect.
Since each state has its own lemon laws, there are some unique requirements for filing a claim based on where the vehicle is registered. For instance, California lemon law applies to both new and used cars so long as they are under warranty.
CA is one of the few states with lemon law rights for used cars, so consumers need a good lemon law lawyer in California to receive the benefits they deserve. A lemon attorney in CA will also be able to tell if a case meets the requirements for filing a claim.
Product Liability Claims
Product liability, on the other hand, holds manufacturers and sellers liable for injuries or damages caused by their products. You may be able to recover compensation for your losses regardless of whether the manufacturer or seller knew about the quality defect.
To win a product liability claim, you’ll need to prove that the product was defective and that the defect caused your injuries or damages. You’ll also need to prove that you only used the product as intended.
When Does Product Liability and Lemon Law NOT Apply?
Now that we’ve defined each term and explained the basics, let’s look at some circumstances when these laws may not apply.
Product liability and lemon laws both work to hold the manufacturer responsible for selling faulty products. So, if you’re injured by an aftermarket car part (installed after you purchased the vehicle), these laws may not apply.
These laws also may not apply if driver error or abuse caused your injuries or damages. For example, if you crash your car because you were speeding, the manufacturer may not be liable. The same is true if you crash due to road conditions.
Similarly, if you modify your car and the modification causes an accident or injuries, the manufacturer can’t be held responsible. For example, suppose you put bigger tires on your vehicle, and they cause a rollover accident. In that case, the manufacturer of the tires can’t be held liable under product liability or lemon law. The same applies to aftermarket brakes, suspension systems, and other modifications.
Do Product Liability Claims Include Lemon Vehicles?
Product liability claims can be filed for a variety of defective products that have caused harm, this includes faulty vehicles. So, if you believe your car is a lemon, you may also have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
To win a product liability claim for a faulty vehicle, you’ll need to prove that the car had a quality defect when it left the factory. You’ll also need to prove that the defect caused your injuries or damages. It can be difficult to prove these things on your own, which is why working with a product liability or lemon attorney in your state is important.
Product liability or lemon law lawyers can help you assess your claim, gather evidence, and build a strong case. They can also negotiate with the manufacturer on your behalf and fight for the best possible outcome in court.
The Bottom Line
Product liability and lemon laws are designed to protect consumers from defective products. However, these laws have different requirements and standards. So, it’s important to understand the difference between the two before pursuing any legal action.
To learn more about your legal options, it’s a good idea to speak with a lemon law or product liability lawyer. An experienced attorney will help you assess your claim and determine the best way to proceed.