What is a Lemon Under Indiana Lemon Law?
Indiana Lemon Law covers leased and new passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, and trucks under 10,000 pounds, and used vehicles that are sold during the new car warranty period. In order to be considered a “lemon,” the vehicle must meet the following requirements:
- Does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty
- Has substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle
- Has manufacturer’s defects that occurred and are reported during the first 18 months from the delivery date or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer (whichever comes first)
- Has been taken in four times for the same defect or has been out of service for 30 business days
- You have notified the manufacturer via certified mail (if required by the manufacturer)
- The vehicle is used primarily for individual, family, or household purposes
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Getting Lemon Justice — Relief Under Indiana Lemon Law
Indiana Lemon Law provides several options for a successful Lemon Law claimant. First, you may be awarded a replacement vehicle of the same year, make, and model. If you accept a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer must reimburse you for transfer fees, registration fees, and any sales tax resulting from the replacement. In addition, the financing arrangements for the replacement vehicle must be as good as those for the original vehicle. A refund can include:
- The full contract price of the vehicle
- Credits and allowances for any trade-in vehicle
- Sales tax
- Unexpended portion of registration fee and excise tax
- All finances charges paid
- Dealer-installed options
- Towing and car rental costs
- Attorney’s fees
The amount of the refund may be reduced by a deduction for your use of the vehicle before you first took your vehicle in for repair. This is calculated by dividing the number of miles the vehicle has been driven when it is accepted for return by 100,000 and multiplying that by the total contract price of the vehicle.
Pursuing an IN Lemon Law Claim
Under Indiana lemon law, if the manufacturer requires it, you must notify the manufacturer of the problem with your vehicle within 18 months of taking delivery of the vehicle, or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer (whichever comes first). You must send the notice via certified mail, with a return receipt requested. Here’s a sample demand letter that you can adapt for your use.
If the manufacturer has an informal dispute process that’s been certified by the Indiana Attorney General, you have to enter the dispute resolution program before filing a lemon law lawsuit. However, if notice isn’t required and the manufacturer doesn’t have a certified program, you can go ahead and file suit.
Hiring a Lemon Law Lawyer in Indiana
Most vehicle manufacturers follow the principle of “No lawyer, no money.” In other words, they count on being able to outmaneuver the consumer who hasn’t retained a Lemon Law attorney. While Indiana Lemon Law requires consumers to participate in the manufacturer’s dispute resolution processes (if the manufacturer requires it), you’ll only be on equal footing if you have an advocate at your side. A lemon lawyer can present your case to the arbitrator or go to court and can call and question witnesses. His or her expertise enables your attorney to easily dispute the manufacturer’s testimony.
But perhaps the most important reason to hire a Lemon Law lawyer is that it sends a clear signal to the manufacturer that you are serious about your claim, and are willing to sue them in order to get justice. Vehicle manufacturers have powerful legal teams that are adept at avoiding or stalling Lemon Law claims, and often only obey the law when they’re faced with the threat of a lawsuit by Lemon Law experts. When they are, they usually settle very quickly, since they know that the cost of going to court will be much higher. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to have an advocate who knows the law and works on your behalf.
Keep in mind that, if you go to court, you shouldn’t have to pay a lemon lawyer to handle your Lemon Law case. That’s because the law says that the manufacturer is responsible for paying the consumer’s attorney’s fees in successful Lemon Law claims.
What Happens When You Hire a Lemon Law Attorney?
A good lemon lawyer will work on your behalf to get the compensation to which you’re entitled — typically in the form of a refund, a replacement vehicle, or a cash settlement. Your Lemon Law attorney will ask you for all of your records, such as repair orders and correspondence, that pertain to your lemon. Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of your vehicle’s repair history, then present the manufacturer with a statement outlining your case and demanding full recovery. More often than not, the manufacturer will settle; if not, though, your Lemon Law attorney should be prepared to sue the manufacturer. Your lawyer should be able to resolve your case within one to two months.
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