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[mk_fancy_title style=”true” size=”20″ txt_transform=”uppercase” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”none”]IS THERE A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING A LEMON LAW CLAIM?[/mk_fancy_title]

Under the California Lemon Law, consumers that have purchased or leased a materially defective vehicle are entitled to relief from the manufacturer that provided a vehicle warranty at the time of purchase. While consumers are provided protection under the law, this protection is not guaranteed or unlimited. Consumers are limited in the length of time they are afforded to bring their claim against the manufacturer of the defective vehicle. This limited length of time is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. In California, consumers are subject to a four-year time limitations for lemon law claims.

A statute of limitations is effectively a deadline for filing a lawsuit and defines the length of time petitioners have to bring their complaint to a legal authority. This limitation is necessary to prevent old claims from being brought before a judge. The concern with this practice was that, due to the passage of time, evidence may have been lost or destroyed, witness memory may have faded or witnesses may be deceased or incapacitated and the petitioner would appear to receive an unfair advantage by waiting to file their lawsuit. Should a petitioner file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed; the defendant can assert the statute as a defense to the lawsuit. What this means for consumers is that any lemon law claim brought against a manufacturer for a materially defective vehicle must be brought within the four-year statute of limitations provided by California law or the claim will likely be dismissed.

California law designates a statute of limitations for each cause of action, or reason for filing the lawsuit. The cause of action, or reason, for filing a lemon law claim, is considered a lawsuit for breach of warranty. By filing a lemon law claim, the consumer is requesting that the judge or arbitrator force the manufacturer to honor the express written warranty provided at the time the vehicle was purchased. Because lemon law claims are considered breach of warranty lawsuits, they receive the same applicable time limitations.

The applicable statute of limitations for California lemon law cases is four years from the date that the consumer knew or should have known that the product was defective and that the manufacturer was unable to fix the defect. The judge or arbitrator will consider whether a reasonable person in the consumer’s position should have know about a material defect and that the manufacturer was unable to fix the defect. Accordingly, the four-year statute of limitations applicable in these cases is not a clearly defined and it leaves room for argument from both the consumer and the manufacturer about when the time limit began to run. Hiring an experienced lemon law attorney provides consumers leverage in these arguments to a legal authority.

It is also important to note that filing a claim with a manufacturer will not stop the statute of limitations from running. A lemon law suit must be filed with the proper legal authority prior to the passing of the four-year statute of limitations. And, although the consumer has four years to file their lawsuit, it is important to act immediately upon discovering a potential lemon law claim.

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