Joey Jet's Lemon Law Page

 

 

 

How The Florida Lemon Law Works

The Lemon Law covers defects or conditions that substantially impair the use, value or safety of a new or demonstrator vehicle (these are called "nonconformities"). These defects must be first reported to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent (usually, this is the dealer) during the "Lemon Law Rights Period," which is the first 24 months after the date of delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer. If the manufacturer fails to conform the vehicle to the warranty after a reasonable number of attempts to repair these defects, the law requires the manufacturer to buy back the defective vehicle and give the consumer a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle. The law does not cover defects that result from accident, neglect, abuse, modification or alteration by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent. DO NOT DELAY in reporting a problem as this may cost valuable time and protection.

Consumers should KEEP RECORDS of all repairs and maintenance. A written repair order should be obtained from the service agent (dealer) for each examination or repair under the warranty. The consumer should note the date the vehicle was taken in for repair and date he or she was notified that work was completed. Odometer mileage when the vehicle was taken to the shop and when it was picked up after repair should also be noted. Consumers should keep all receipts or invoices for payment of expenses related to the purchase/lease of the vehicle and to any repair.

If the vehicle has been back to the service agent for repair of the same recurring problem at least three times, the consumer must give written notification by certified, registered or express mail, to the manufacturer (not the dealer) to afford a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. Check the warranty book or owner’s manual or other written manufacturer supplement for the address given by the manufacturer. A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form may be used for this purpose. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. Upon receipt of the notification, the manufacturer has 10 days to direct the consumer to a reasonably accessible repair facility, and then up to 10 days from delivery of the vehicle to fix it.

If the vehicle is in and out of the authorized repair shop for repair of one or more different problems for 15 or more cumulative days, the consumer must give written notification of this fact to the manufacturer (not the dealer), by certified, registered or express mail. Check the warranty book or owner’s manual or other written manufacturer supplement for the address given by the manufacturer. A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form may used for this purpose. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. After the manufacturer’s receipt of the notification, the manufacturer or its authorized service agent must have at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle. The consumer may be eligible for a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle if the vehicle is out of service for repair of one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 30 or more days.

If the manufacturer does not provide a refund or a replacement vehicle, consumers may invoke their rights through one or two arbitration programs. The dispute must be submitted for arbitration to a manufacturer sponsored program, if that program was certified by the State of Florida when the consumer purchased or leased the vehicle and the manufacturer's warranty or other written material explained how and where to file a claim with a state-certified program.

A list of Manufacturers who sponsor state-certified programs can be found by clicking here, or to find out if a manufacturer has a state-certified program, consumers in Florida may call the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366), consumers out of state may call 850-414-3500. "State-certified" means the manufacturer's program meets certain state and federal requirements; it does not mean that the program is administered or sponsored by the State of Florida.

If a manufacturer has no state-certified program, or if the manufacturer has a state-certified program, but the program fails to make a decision in 40 days, or the consumer is not satisfied with the state-certified program's decision, the dispute must be submitted to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General. Click here to download a Request for Arbitration form, or contact theLemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366; 1-850-414-3500) to obtain a Request for Arbitration form. The form is submitted for eligibility screening to the Office of the Attorney General.

 

Hearings Before the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board

 

The Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board is established within the Department of Legal Affairs (Office of the Attorney General) to resolve warranty disputes between consumers and new motor vehicle manufacturers under Florida's "Lemon Law."

Members of the Arbitration Board are appointed by the Attorney General, and lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office serve as legal advisors to the Board. The Attorney General’s Office does NOT represent either party to an arbitration hearing. The Arbitration Board conducts hearings on week days during normal business hours in various locations of the state, and is administered by the Attorney General’s offices in Tallahassee, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. Hearings are held in locations that are as convenient as possible for the consumer. All hearings are open to the public and are conducted in English.

To request arbitration by the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, a consumer must complete and file a “Request for Arbitration” form with the Office of the Attorney General. DO NOT DELAY! You must file with the Office of the Attorney General within 60 days after the expiration of your Lemon Law rights period (24 months after the date of delivery of your vehicle), or 30 days after the final action of a manufacturer-sponsored, state-certified program,whichever date is later. Call the Lemon Law Hotline 1-800-321-5366 (850-414-3500 out-of-state or in Tallahassee) or click here to get a Request for Arbitration form.

Once a Request for Arbitration form is filed with the Office of the Attorney General, it will be screened to determine eligibility for a hearing. If the form is incomplete or if more information is required, the consumer will be requested to produce additional information within a specified time. Failure to provide the requested information in the time specified may result in rejection of the claim. If the claim is found to be fraudulent or outside the scope of the Arbitration Board’s authority, it will be rejected, with notice of the rejection sent to the consumer and to the manufacturer. If the claim is determined to be eligible for a hearing, it will be approved and assigned to the appropriate regional office for scheduling of a hearing. The consumer and the manufacturer will receive notice of the approval of the claim, along with further information about the arbitration process and procedures.

Arbitration hearings are informal and the technical rules of evidence, such as are used in a courtroom, do not apply. Representation by an attorney is not required; however, persons appearing before the Board may be represented by attorneys, at their own expense. Some manufacturers do have attorneys, and some do not. Consumers are encouraged to observe a hearing before attending their own to familiarize themselves with the process. (To find out whether hearings are being conducted in your area, you can call the Office of the Attorney General at 850-414-3500.)

Hearings are conducted by panels of three Board members. One Board member will serve as chairperson and another may be a person with knowledge of motor vehicle mechanics. The consumer and motor vehicle manufacturer will each be afforded a fair opportunity to present their side of the dispute by presenting testimony and supporting documents. Testimony is taken under oath, and each party has the right to ask questions of the persons who testify for the opposing party (this is called cross examination). The Arbitration Board, at its sole discretion, may inspect or test drive the motor vehicle during the hearing. Generally, the hearing is conducted in two parts, the first to determine whether the motor vehicle is a “lemon” under the law. If the motor vehicle is found to be a lemon, the second part of the hearing will determine whether the consumer receives a refund or a replacement vehicle and to calculate the amounts to be paid by the manufacturer. If the motor vehicle is not found to be a lemon, the claim will be dismissed.

Generally, the Arbitration panel will announce its decision verbally at the close of the hearing. A written decision will be sent to the consumer and manufacturer by the Attorney General’s office. The decision is final unless it is appealed by either party to the Circuit Court. A petition to appeal the arbitration decision must be filed with the appropriate court within 30 days after receipt of the written decision. Appeals of decisions of the Arbitration Board are by trial de novo. Persons wishing to appeal an arbitration decision to the court should seek the advice of a private attorney. The Attorney General’s office cannot provide legal representation.

If the decision awards a refund or replacement to the consumer, and it is not appealed, the manufacturer must comply with the decision within 40 days after its receipt of the written decision. The Office of the Attorney General has the authority to enforce compliance with decisions of the Arbitration Board.

 

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