Lemon Law in the Time of COVID-19
While car problems might take a back seat during the current health crisis, it is important not to ignore your car’s problems. And you don’t want to continue driving your car if its defects make it unsafe. Likewise, you don’t want to defer your car’s maintenance, because that might damage the car, which could lead to more problems that might not be covered under warranty.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some answers to questions you might have about how the health crisis is affecting car repairs and lemon law claims and on how to navigate these issues safely.
Are Repair Shops Open during COVID-19 Pandemic?
You might wonder if you can even have your car looked at now given the coronavirus pandemic. But, even though many auto manufacturers—including the Big Three—have halted or limited production, car dealers, including their repair shops, are generally still open. In fact, California local governments recognized the importance of keeping vehicles in good repair by exempting auto supply and auto repair shops from their order for nonessential businesses close during the health emergency period, deeming them essential businesses along with hospitals, grocery stores, news media, and hardware stores.
Is It Safe to Have Someone Work on My Car?
Given the COVID-19 health crisis, you also might be wary of others touching your car and, therefore, might have reservations about taking your car in for repair. But the risk can be minimized by following the CDC’s guidelines for avoiding the spread of the virus as well as by wiping down your car’s handles, steering wheel, and other surfaces with sanitizing wipes after it is returned, similar to what you might already be doing with shopping carts at grocery stores. Some car dealers also have indicated that they are taking similar precautions in handling vehicles.
Are Parts Still Available?
Besides the health concerns, you might wonder whether automakers will have sufficient repair parts available in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But news reports indicate that automakers were actually ahead of the curve in that respect. Anticipating a parts shortage, they lined up alternate suppliers and conserved their stockpiles. As a result, automakers do not expect parts shortages in the short term, although, as with everything else, there may be some delays due operation, staffing, and shipment reductions or restrictions.
Still, some industry observers recommend not delaying repairs, because a shortage might arise soon given the fact that many parts are imported from China as well as Mexico and Canada, making them potentially harder to get, especially if the crisis worsens and further delays develop in getting parts into the country. Observers also indicate that although manufacturers may have larger supplies of parts available to them, dealers and repair shops may have only a limited number of parts on their shelves.
Can I Still File a Claim If the Courts Are Closed?
The pandemic also has impacted courts, causing them to close, reduce hours and services, or only attend to emergency issues during the crisis. Despite those restrictions, it is still possible to start a lemon law claim. Even though courts may be closed or operating at diminished capacities, a number of courts have implemented electronic filing systems, allowing court documents to be filed 24 hours a day without the need for the courthouses to be physically open.
Can I Find Out About the Lemon Law While Keeping Safe?
You can find out about your lemon law rights while sheltering in place and maintaining recommended social distancing. An in-person consultation and providing paper documents are not necessary. You can get information on your potential lemon law claims by filling out a web form or simply making a call. Likewise, you can submit your vehicle documents via email or fax.
Will There Be Delays?
Keep in mind, however, if you have a current case or plan to start a case in the near future, you should expect longer delays than normal, just as you may be experiencing longer lines and delays at the supermarket. Even if you are pursuing your claims out of court, you probably will still face some added delays with automakers having office employees working fewer hours or working from home.
What Should I Do?
The bottom line is you do not need to put off dealing with your car’s problems during this health crisis. You can still take your car into many dealers for repairs and you can keep yourself safe by following the CDC’s recommendations for containing COVID-19. You also can obtain a free consultation regarding your lemon law rights remotely by telephone, web form, or email. And, if you already have a case, you can call, text, or email the Lemon Law Attorneys for more information on how the health crisis will affect your case.
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