Arbitration may not be the best option for lemon law cases

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2021 | Lemon Law |

Some lemon law cases will go to trial, but others are resolved using arbitration. This process, which is free to the vehicle owner, uses a single arbitrator or panel to address the lemon law dispute regarding a vehicle or consumer product. The manufacturer will generally push this approach for resolving the dispute, but the owner is not required to arbitrate.

A shorter process

Applicable to many different areas of law, arbitration is known as a faster (30-60 days versus 12-18 months for a trial) and less expensive format for resolving the case. Each side presents its case. The arbitrator or panel can order additional attempts to repair the faulty vehicle or product or initiate a full or partial refund to the owner.

Unfair bias?

A vast majority of the arbitration cases involve additional free repairs versus a buyback or replacement. It should be noted that the manufacturer typically pays for the arbitration. However, because the manufacturer pays the arbitrator or panel, many have concerns that the process unfairly favors the manufacturer. It benefits the manufacturer to employ a less expensive dispute resolution process, and it also includes a decision-maker who may favor the manufacturer. The decision can be binding or non-binding, but the vehicle owner has more options to appeal the decision.

California lemon law lawyers protect clients’ interests

A lemon law attorney can represent the interests of the owner in resolving a lemon law dispute. Not all unrepaired defects involve a full replacement or refund plus damages. Still, an attorney can help guide clients toward the best potential outcome based on the case’s details.

California law does encourage manufacturers to settle or resolve these cases. Nonetheless, if the case goes to trial, the jurors can impose a penalty if the manufacturer knowingly did not comply with all applicable lemon laws. The amount can be up to double the actual damages. So, in addition to a refund or replacement of a $40,000 SUV, the owner may also receive an additional $80,000.