California Lemon Law

Laws | April 7, 2021

Nobody should ever have to worry about whether or not a car they purchase in California is faulty, particularly a new car. We expect new cars to operate safely when they come from the manufacturer or off of the dealer’s lot. Unfortunately, there are times when faulty vehicles make it into the hands of consumers, and this can lead to serious injuries. California has established strong Lemon Law protections to help consumers secure compensation if they purchase a faulty vehicle that cannot be properly repaired.

Here, we want to discuss how California’s Lemon Law works and how this intersects with any potential personal injury case that arises due to a faulty vehicle being involved in an accident. Lemons are defective products, and our Sacramento product liability attorneys understand these cases.

California Lemon Law

What Does the California Lemon Law Do?

In California, the Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who purchase vehicles that end up having problems that could substantially impair their safety, value, or use. However, not all vehicles sold in California are covered under the Lemon Law. To receive Lemon Law protection, a vehicle must have been purchased in the state and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Be a vehicle purchased new, or
  • Be a used vehicle still under the original manufacturer’s new car warranty

Additionally, dealers and manufacturers are required to disclose to a buyer if they are selling them a vehicle that was bought back under the Lemon Law. Any person who purchases a lemon may be entitled to compensation. Under the language of the law, a manufacturer or dealer is allowed to attempt to fix the vehicle. If the vehicle can be fixed with any reasonable number of attempts, a person will likely not be able to recover compensation. However, if a vehicle cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts, a person could be entitled to:

  • Complete repayment of their down payment
  • Repayment of the monthly payments they have already made
  • A complete payoff with the car loan
  • Compensation for towing or repairs

How Could This Impact a Personal Injury Case in California?

The Lemon Law in California is not actually a personal injury law. However, if a person sustains an injury caused by a defective product, they may certainly be entitled to compensation through a personal injury or a product liability lawsuit.

When a vehicle or a vehicle part is faulty, it could pose a significant threat to a driver, their passengers, and others on the roadway. In many cases, faulty vehicles and vehicle parts face recalls, and owners are required to bring their vehicles in for repair. However, it is not uncommon for there to be no actual recalls pertaining to Lemon Law cases.

If a person owns a lemon and has subsequently gotten into an accident, they could be entitled to compensation through a product liability lawsuit. This compensation will not come from a Lemon Law case. The Lemon Law handles the vehicle; the product liability claim will handle the injuries.

However, if the vehicle owner has complied with the requirements of trying to get their vehicle fixed by the dealer or manufacturer and the faulty vehicle still caused an accident, this information could be used as part of the product liability lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, household out-of-pocket, and pain and suffering damages that resulted from the accident.