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Lemon Laws for Motor Vehicles and Disability Products

  • Publish Date : 2009/02/08 - (Rev. 2013/07/12)
  • Author : Ismail Ahmed


Lemon laws are state laws that provide remedies to consumers for automobiles and disability products that are poorly manufactured requiring repetitive repairs.

Main Document

These lemon laws are The United States state laws that provide remedies to consumers for automobiles and disability products including wheelchairs and scooters that are poorly manufactured requiring repetitive repairs, as well as, the deceptive practices of some vehicle sellers and fail to meet certain standards of quality and performance. Such defected vehicles are called lemons. The federal lemon law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) protects citizens of all states against such experiences.

These lemon laws were structured since the 1980's in order to protect the buyers of new and used motor vehicles. Lemon law can be obligatory on any type of vehicle including a car, truck, van, SUV, motorcycle, boat or computer, motorized wheelchairs, electric scooters and other assistive devices used by disabled persons etc. In case any of these consumer durables or property is found to be flawed then the consumer is entitled for either money back, replacement or a cash settlement. The best source to consult with is a Lemon law attorney as lemon laws of every state varies. These laws have matured over the years and are now finally being adapted.

As discovered the motor vehicle has defects in it that impairs the vehicles usage, the consumer should make the vehicle available to the dealer or the manufacturer. The manufacturer should have made three reasonable attempts for the certain repair before the petition is made by the consumer. The consumer must bear in mind the number of repairs attempts and the acknowledgment to the manufacturer prior to the lemon law suit. There are certain conditions that are observed before pursuing a lemon law suit. If those conditions are satisfied, the defect is covered by manufactures warranty.

ACCENT polled 55 Attorney Generals (from all U.S. states and 5 territories) to determine which states other than motor vehicles have specific lemon laws regarding motorized wheelchairs, scooters or other products used by persons with disabilities.

Each representative was asked to respond to one of the following statements:

A respective state has enacted this or other similar legislation.

A respective state is in the process of enacting this or other similar legislation.

A respective state has not enacted and does not expect to pursue this or other similar legislation.

The poll responded in 32 replies (58%) to the made query, many of which were accompanied by copies of laws and/or brochures corresponding to the answers. Where applicable, the proper contact agency was also noted on the response.

The general results of the poll, based on responses, were:

Three states, California, Florida and Wisconsin, have enacted specific lemon laws or have included wording specific to assistive devices/products for use by persons with disabilities in their consumer protection laws;

Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming felt that the items that were referenced were covered in their existing consumer protection laws;

Illinois, Nevada and Washington have more specific legislation in process at the current time;

Three states, Hawaii, Oregon and Minnesota, requested that they are let know what other states are doing so they can follow-up in their jurisdictions.

Based on the information received, California and Wisconsin have the most comprehensive laws protecting the disabled consumer.

Wisconsin's "Wheelchair Lemon Law," enacted in 1992.

This law covers these items for a period of one year. If the motorized wheelchair or scooter has a defect which has been unsuccessfully repaired at least four times or has been out of service due to the defect for 30 days (not necessarily consecutive), it is considered a "lemon" and therefore covered under this law. The defect must "significantly impair the use, value or safety of that chair or scooter." Remedies under the Wisconsin law include the choice of either obtaining a comparable new replacement or a refund from the manufacturer.

The state of California has taken a different approach to protecting the disabled consumer.

Instead of enacting a specific lemon law, the act known as Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act contains very explicit wording to cover "assistive devices... used, or intended to be used, to assist a physically disabled person..." The California law covers new or used devices and contains very clear language pertinent to the warranties that must be provided by the retailer.

Finally, some very important tips and suggestions that I think are important and will have significant benefits are:

Some states only cover the purchase of new equipment, some cover both new and used items. In either case, your purchase might be covered by both an implied and express (written) warranty.

To determine if your motor vehicle or precisely wheelchair, scooter or other purchase might be a lemon, do this easy 3-step test:

1. Does the defect substantially impair the use of the device? If YES, go to test 2.

2. Is the defect the result of abuse or negligence? If NO, go to the last test.

3. Is the wheelchair, scooter or other device still within its normal expected 'useful life' and has not simply worn out? If YES, you might have a 'lemon'.

Keep detailed documentation of all repairs, including copies of repair work orders with the date and description of repairs.

Many laws cover your purchase for a set period of time (for instance, one year). A written complaint to the seller can, in some states, have the effect of 'freezing' this warranty time, thus extending the warranty period until the problem has been corrected.

Be informed of your rights as a consumer. Your purchase has been a costly one and is very important to you in many ways.

For more information about the laws in your state, contact your state's attorney general for common motor vehicles or Governor's Council on Persons with Disabilities (both at your state capital) or simply visit at www.4lemonlaws.com

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