Lemon laws, which offer consumers protection in the event that they are sold defective vehicles or commercial goods, vary from state to state. So, which states give you the most protections? According to a recent ranking of state lemon laws, released by the Center for Auto Safety, New Jersey and Washington state earned the highest grade (A) for consumer protection. California came in at number 12, with a B grade. Let’s take a closer look at how this ranking was created and what it means for consumers in California and across the nation.
Understanding the Rankings
In order to understand what the rankings mean, we need to first look at how the Center for Auto Safety measured “consumer-friendliness.” The Center for Auto Safety defined a lemon as a vehicle (in most cases, new) that suffers from a persistent and irreparable manufacturing or design defect, which directly impacts its safety and value. Representatives for the Center for Auto Safety looked at ten various categories, such as the number of repair attempts a state requires before it is considered a lemon and whether your attorney fees are covered if it is determined that you were sold a lemon, and assigned a point value to each of these categories. Evaluators examined each category for each state, calculated the point total, and then converted this total number to an overall letter grade. While only two states earned an A grade, five states earned an F grade: Colorado, North Dakota, Louisiana, Missouri, and Illinois.
California Hovers Near the Top
Out of all fifty states, California rose toward the top of the list, coming in at number 12. Earning a score of 53 (translating into a B letter grade), the ranking was based on several factors. California ranked highest in protections for consumers by way of a hefty and enforceable penalty for automakers who knowingly and willingly deny consumers their rights. The lowest score the state earned—a 4 out of 10—was for the restrictions on the applicable period and/or number of attempts that must be made before the vehicle meets the legal definition of a lemon. It appears that many other states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have the broadest and most forgiving applicable period, so vehicles that may not be considered to be lemons in states like California or Kentucky would qualify as such in these two states. Overall, however, California offers strong lemon law consumer protections in comparison to most other states.
Know Your Consumer Rights
While this ranking was only one way of evaluating each state’s lemon laws, it’s an important resource for comparing and understanding how consumer protections vary from state to state. The Center for Auto Safety’s executive director, Jason Levine, stated, “in an era when new vehicles average over $36,000, the ability to return a lemon is more important than ever for consumers who are put in a frustrating situation, through no fault of their own.” Now, more than ever, it’s useful to recognize how your state handles these issues so that you can understand your rights as a consumer.
Lemon Law Partners, LLP is here to help you understand your rights under California lemon laws. If you are dealing with a defective vehicle in the Oakland or Greater Bay Area, call (510) 944-0336 today to schedule a free case evaluation.