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Rhode Island Lemon Law: What You Need to Know

That new car smell is the best. The feeling of driving around in a new ride is sensational. But what happens when the experience sours and your new car starts smelling like a lemon?  Rhode Island’s lemon law gives you the right to take action – and turn your lemon into lemonade.  Sergei Lemberg, an attorney specializing in lemon law, offers an overview of our lemon law, and tips to make sure you can take advantage of your Rhode Island lemon law rights.

According to Sergei, Rhode Island Lemon Law covers new and used passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, trucks, and motorcycles that are sold or leased in Rhode Island. It also covers business vehicles under 10,000 pounds.

Not every new car is eligible for “lemon” status, however. In order to be considered a “lemon,” the defects have to affect the use, safety, or value of the vehicle. In other words, the need for a paint touch-up or a malfunctioning radio won’t cut it. In addition, the defects have to occur during the first year from the date you take delivery of the vehicle or the first 15,000 miles on the odometer – whichever comes first. You also need to have taken the vehicle in for repair four times for the same problem or it has to have been out of service for 30 days for a combination of problems. Sergei notes that, after the fourth repair attempt (but within one year or 15,000 miles), you have to notify the manufacturer in writing of the defect and give them one last opportunity to fix the problem.

Rhode Island Lemon Law says that you must participate in the manufacturer’s informal dispute resolution process (if one exists) or the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board before you are eligible to file a Lemon Law claim in court. Sergei’s quick to say, though, that manufacturers have teams of lawyers that do nothing but fight lemon law claims, and that you’ll only be on equal footing if you have a lemon law attorney at your side. The good news is that, if your court claim is successful, the manufacturer has to pay your attorney fees. However, the law doesn’t provide for attorneys’ fees for arbitration. That being said, with the help of a lawyer, you can get a refund, replacement vehicle, or cash settlement without having to go through the entire lemon law process – and get your attorney’s fees covered in the process.

If you think you have a lemon, start keeping notes. Jot down every communication you have with the dealer or manufacturer, the times and dates that you have a problem with the vehicle, and the days that the vehicle is out of service, either because it’s in the shop or because it’s not in working condition. Remember to keep all of your work orders, other paperwork, and any written correspondence. It’s also important to contact a lemon law attorney after the third repair attempt. He or she can help guide you through the final steps that will legally establish your vehicle as a lemon.

Authored b:  Lemon Law Attorney Sergei Lemberg