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Phone: 804-282-7900
The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

Do I have to use a manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement procedure when pursuing a lemon law claim?

When dealing with a motor vehicle that does not comply with the terms of its warranty, the consumer may be entitled to certain remedies under the lemon law. These remedies allow the consumer to be made whole, or close to whole, after expending a significant amount of money purchasing a car or truck that later proves to be defective. Some manufacturers may offer an informal dispute settlement procedure to deal with lemon law claims. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney before pursuing this option.

Three Important Guidelines for an Informal Dispute Settlement Procedure

If you are considering making use of an informal dispute settlement procedure such as arbitration, as a result of a lemon law issue, keep the following helpful information in mind:

  1. The consumer does not have to utilize an informal dispute settlement procedure under the Virginia Lemon Law, but it may be required by federal law.   If the manufacturer of the vehicle provides such a procedure, it is the consumer’s choice as to whether or not to utilize it prior to taking advantage of the rights provided under the lemon law.
  2. If the consumer opts to use the informal dispute settlement procedure and the decision is to give the consumer a refund or a comparable vehicle, the manufacturer has only 40 days from the consumer’s acceptance of such decision to comply. Alternatively, the manufacturer must conform when there is a court order to comply with the terms of the decision.
  3. If the consumer pursues legal action because the manufacturer fails to comply with the decision reached in the informal dispute settlement procedure, the consumer may be entitled to triple the value of the award that was given pursuant to the decision in the procedure. The consumer may also be entitled to other equitable relief that the court determines is appropriate. This may include additional attorneys fees.
  4. We generally advise that you use this informal dispute procedure since it is non binding on you if you do not like the decision, but it is binding on the manufacturer.  

Determining how best to proceed when dealing with a faulty vehicle requires the guidance of a knowledgeable legal professional. We encourage you to contact us today for more information at 804-282-7900.