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Presumption and the Lemon Law

To presume is to make an assumption that something will be found true when further examined. It is what one supposes to be true based on the evidence available.

With regard to presumption in legal matters, if the bird looks, walks and quacks like a duck, legally the court says it meets the presumption that it is indeed a duck. To support the presumption, you get a nice textbook on birds (the law on birds), or better yet, ducks. Thats where we find the law about ducks.

If you want to know if your defective vehicle meets the presumption that it is indeed a lemon, in California, you read the appropriate sections of the Song-Beverly Act. This is where the law that defines a lemon vehicle is found. As laws go, it is quite specific.

Here are the essentials of what the Song-Beverly Act says about what makes a car legally a lemon. The presumption (that the vehicle is a lemon) is established if any of the following occurs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles:

The same defect is subject to repair four or more times; or

The same defect is subject to repair two or more times, and is a serious safety defect that is likely to cause death or bodily injury; or

The vehicle is out of service for repairs for a cumulative total of more than 30 days, for any combination of defects.

Thus, if a California consumer proves that a vehicle has been subject to repair four times for the same problem within 18 months or 18,000 miles, then the judge will tell the jury that the consumer has met his burden of proving that the manufacturer had a reasonable number of repair attempts.

The presumption helps consumers meet their burden of proof if they have to go to trial.

Does your vehicle have to meet the test of presumption to be considered a lemon? No, it doesnt. But there are advantages to the consumer if it does. In lawsuits there is something called, the burden of proof. If the consumers lemon vehicle doesnt meet the presumption that it is a lemon, the consumer has the burden of proving that the vehicle is a lemon when contending with the manufacturer. Obviously it is a lot more difficult financially for a consumer to prove that the vehicle is a lemon than it is for the manufacturer to dispute the claim.

An example of a car that does not meet the presumption, but may well legally be a lemon follows:

The same defect is subject to repair four or more times over a period of two and a half years; or

The vehicle is out of service for repairs for a cumulative total of more than 30 days, for any combination of defects.

The vehicle currently has 38,000 miles on the odometer (remember, it had to be 18 months or 18,000 miles).

If, however, the consumers vehicle meets the presumption, the burden of proof shifts to the manufacturer. It is much harder for the manufacturer to dispute the consumers basic facts that the car meets the essential requirements of what is a lemon, when the vehicle meets the presumption.

With the burden of proof on the manufacturer, they must prove the consumers car is not a lemon. They may have to bring in experts, go through a lot of legal activities, and try to prove to a jury that the lemon law doesnt say what it says. They must do this in the face of your facts, which are legally in your favor. This is good for the consumer.

Instead of being the short kid with glasses, constantly getting stuffed in lockers and trashcans, you are now the buff athlete who takes no crap from anyone. When our modern lemon laws were created, the very obvious imbalance between the consumer and his or her resources vs. manufacturer and their resources was taken into consideration. The law, as some wit said, is a fool. This is not always true. Sometimes the people who make the laws do the right thing. Sometimes even governments do the right thing. Here in America it happens more than anywhere else in the world.

Donald Ladew, Staff Writer for Norman Taylor & Associates, is a professional writer and author of numerous articles on quality,customer service issues and many other subjects. This article approved by Norman F. Taylor Esq. For more information about this most important subject, please read Lemon Law - The Standard Reference Guide, Norman F. Taylor Esq. ISBN 0-9760058-0-8 http://www.lemonattorneys.com or http://www.normantaylor.com For further inquiries, Mr. Ladew may be reached at: donald@normantaylor.com Phone: 818-244-3905.

Related Links:

Getting the Most Juice in Your California Lemon Law

Lemon Laws - What You Need To Know

Understanding the Texas Lemon Law

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