How to File Lemon Law Indiana

by Harry Bradley on March 10, 2014

File Lemon Law IndianaOnce you meet the criteria for pursuing a lemon law claim and are ready to seek relief, what’s next? Do I fill out a form? Do I write a letter, make a phone call, or do something else? You’re sitting with a stack of repair records from numerous unsuccessful repairs and your vehicle still has the problem. Now you’re ready to take action, but how? Below is an overview of the steps involved in pursuit of a successful award or judgment so you know what to expect during the claims process.

How to File Lemon Law Indiana provides an overview of a successful claim.

Most of the information at this site helps you know when you’re ready to file a claim, but not how. I thought it time to add the “what’s next?” for obtaining a lemon law recovery – including those steps you can take on your own, and those you will likely delegate to your legal counsel. Pursuing your rights under the lemon law isn’t as simple as mailing a claim form to the courthouse, but it is a manageable process when you know what to expect.

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The Manufacturer Must Pay Your Attorney’s Fees

Before I describe the claim process itself, one important thing for every consumer to know is that the manufacturer must pay your attorney’s fees in a lemon law claim dispute! Both state and federal law provide recoverable amounts for attorney’s fees in addition to any amount you are owed for your lemon vehicle. This is intended to level the playing field between an individual and a corporation and allow you to cost-effectively obtain counsel, insuring you needn’t pay out your entire recovery to your lawyer – this would obviously make the lemon law pointless.

When you’re ready to begin the lemon law process but feel overwhelmed, don’t panic. Take a breath and call an attorney for help. Most will take your case at no cost because of the additional fee and costs provisions contained in the statutes. Whether you go it alone or hire counsel, the following steps will be taken in pursuit of your claim:

Notify the Manufacturer in Writing

The first step in the claims process is to notify the manufacturer in writing. In Indiana, a consumer is required to write a letter if the warranty booklet requests it. Not all states do this, but Indiana does. The language in your warranty booklet will look very similar to this:

Notice

You are required only to send a letter to the manufacturer stating that you are beginning the lemon law claims process. This does not require a final opportunity to repair, contrary to the all-states’ warranty book language included above. Some states do; Indiana does not. In legal speak, once you’ve met the criteria for relief, your entitlement to relief has vested. Mail the letter, and proceed to the next step.

Apply to the Manufacturer’s Informal Dispute Settlement Procedure

The BBB Auto Line is an example of a resolution procedure set up by the manufacturer to review Lemon Law claims before they proceed to the courthouse. These procedures offer a quick and non-binding (to the consumer) review of your claim, and they have the authority to order the manufacturer to repair, repurchase, or replace the vehicle if it meets their criteria for doing so. The information on the specific procedure associated with your manufacturer is contained in your warranty booklet and will look similar to this:

BBB1BBB2

A thorough step-by-step walk through of these procedures can be found here: How to File a BBB Auto Line Claim.

For better or worse this step is required in the lemon law claim process. “[T]he consumer may not commence a civil action … unless he initially resorts to such procedure;” 15 U.S. Code § 2310. Indiana state law states the same. The better part of the process is that the BBB, for example, can award relief on a lemon law claim which is then binding on the manufacturer. The worse is that the determination of which claims are entitled to relief, and the amount relief awarded, is determined between the manufacturer and the procedure before the claims review begins. If they decide there are no hotels in this monopoly game or that the railroads are not for sale, then those are the rules. These rules are called the Program Summary and are different for each manufacturer. An example can be found here: Ford BBB Auto Line Indiana Program Summary. You always have stronger rights under statute than you do in the dispute process so if you receive an unfavorable award, reject it and move on because the consumer is not bound by the result, only the manufacturer.

Prepare a Formal Complaint

If you’ve written the manufacturer, discussed the problem on numerous occasions, and presented your claim to their dispute procedure but have no relief thus far, don’t be discouraged. This is more common than it should be. In fact, a review of the BBB Auto Line statistics from last year shows that only 10.5% of applicants to the program received a benefit on their lemon law claim through the procedure. There are a multitude of reasons why consumers with good claims would not yet have the benefits to which they are entitled and I have authored numerous articles on the illegitimate denial of claims: inaccurate records, warranty expiration, and intermittent problems are just a few examples – please take a look at the WarrantyDefect.com FAQs for more. The important thing here is to not get discouraged and to press on. State and federal law are much more generous to the consumer than the manufacturer’s own review processes are (which should be no surprise). Following the above preliminaries, the next step is to file a formal civil complaint.

This is also the step at which you should seriously consider hiring a professional if you haven’t done so already. The interplay of federal and state laws and their offering of related remedies can result in missed opportunities for recovery where the complaint preparer is unfamiliar. Even worse, claims can be dismissed in their entirety if court procedure is not followed regarding the substance or timing of required filings. I cannot stress strongly enough that even the most capable of us should not go it alone on this step. Luckily, as mentioned above, the lemon laws contemplate this necessity and provide the additional fee amounts necessary to retain counsel, usually at no cost to the consumer.

Ready to Go!

Once you meet the criteria for pursuing a lemon law claim and are ready to seek relief, you can take the first few steps yourself to test the waters, or hire counsel immediately and delegate the entirety of the project. In any event, stay positive and focused on the relief to which you are entitled – you’ll get there! These steps aren’t necessarily easy, but they are manageable, and hopefully more so now that you know what to expect.

For more help or an attorney referral in your area, please Contact Us!

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