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Having problems with your new lemon vehicle? We can help

Having problems with your new lemon vehicle? We can help

If your brand new vehicle has a major problem that is not getting fixed it may be considered a lemon. In Ohio, vehicles that are under a year old or new vehicles with an odometer that reads less than 18,000 miles are considered a lemon if they have an unrepairable issue...

What to look for when you are buying a new used car?

What to look for when you are buying a new used car?

Buying a used car can be exciting, stressful, and convenient for a consumer living on a budget and trying to save money. Many consumers are fearful about overpaying for a new used vehicle and buying an unreliable vehicle that will need repairs and extra maintenance...

Vehicle Protection

Vehicle Protection

The Ohio Lemon Laws protect consumers purchasing new automobiles and dealing with auto repairs. A new vehicle with one or more serious issues is considered a “lemon”. Consumers purchasing used vehicles are protecteded under other consumer litigation laws.

In Ohio new vehicles are protected under the lemon laws for the first 12 months a consumer owns the vehicle or the first 18,000 miles the vehicle is driven. Whichever comes first ends the consumer’s protection period according to the lemon laws, although a consumer may sue years later as long as the issue was raised within this period. During this time the consumer has to ask a manufacturer to fix a problem before turning the issue into a legal matter. If the problem is considered a manufacturer error and cannot be fixed by the manufacturer within a reasonable time period, then the consumer might have the possibility to receive a refund or replacement. The manufacturer must provide a warranty that protects the lemon laws when the consumer is purchasing a new vehicle.

There are several situations that can determine whether a manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to fix a vehicle under the lemon laws. Manufacturers may be allowed at least three or more attempts to repair one problem and at least one attempt to repair a life-threatening problem. A vehicle that has been in a repair shop being fixed by a manufacturer for 30 days or had eight different problems repaired during the consumer protection period, is considered reasonable opportunity. After one of these scenarios has taken place, a consumer may request a replacement vehicle or refund.

A consumer choosing to receive a refund is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. That price includes the entire amount paid on the new vehicle, transportation costs, and charges for the manufacturer services. Taxes, registration fees, license fees, warranty charges, and costs for credit insurance and financing is also included in the refund.

Consumers purchasing used vehicles are not protected by the Ohio Lemon Laws. Used vehicle dealerships cannot misrepresent the functionality of the vehicle when making a sale. If the vehicle was a previous lemon that was returned, then the dealership must notify the consumer. The dealership must also notify a consumer of the price, interest rates, mileage and previous sales history of the vehicle. Consumers also have the right to know if the vehicle was a rental or a salvage title. A salvage title has information stating whether the vehicle has been damaged in the past or considered a loss by a previous insurance company.

 

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Can my old landlord hire a debt collector to sue me for moving out of my apartment early?

Can my old landlord hire a debt collector to sue me for moving out of my apartment early?

A debt collector is allowed to contact someone to collect on a valid debt.  Before determining whether a debt collector is allowed to contact someone in a particular situation, the underlying legal situation first needs to be evaluated.

When two people enter into a lease to rent an apartment, they usually sign a contract to be jointly liable to the landlord for payment of the rent.  If either party breaks the lease, then the landlord has the right to sue either party for recovery of all the lost rent.  That lawsuit can include late fees or other charges authorized by the lease.  The legal doctrine that allows a landlord to sue either tenant (or both tenants, at the choice of the landlord) is called “joint and several liability.”  Rather than suing, a landlord can appropriately place the account with a collection agency to collect on the unpaid rent.

A separate contractual relationship governs the relationship between tenants.  Usually, two people entering into a lease agree to split the cost, where each side agrees to pay a certain amount towards the total rent.  If one of the tenants stops making payments, then the other tenant has a claim for breach of contract against the non-paying tenant.  The paying tenant can even pay the entire rent due to the landlord themselves to prevent a breach of the lease, and then sue the non-payer for breaching their agreement to split the cost.

Assuming valid contracts exists, moving out of town is generally not a good enough reason to get out of a lease.  There is no requirement that the landlord agree to allow someone out of a lease early, and no requirement for the landlord to agree to shift all of the payment responsibility onto the other tenant.  There is also no requirement for the other tenant to agree to accept all the liability for the entire lease and allow the other tenant to move out early.  It would be pretty unfair to the roommate left behind to have to pay all of the money to the landlord each month when they entered into the lease thinking they would only have to pay half.  Thus, if one of the tenants moves out early, that person should not be surprised if they are sued by both the landlord and/or the other roommate for amounts not paid.

That all said, landlords have a duty to mitigate their damages by trying to rent out the property immediately after eviction.  They cannot wait around for months in order for their damages to compound and then sue for a much bigger number than if they took appropriate steps to lease the unit to someone else immediately.  In our Franklin County, Ohio, for example, landlords are generally only able to collect about two months of future rent as damages even if the lease had six months left on it.  The landlord can also sue for fees and costs allowed by the lease or allowed by the law.  That would require looking at local law, and raising failure to mitigate damages in the court case, probably through a lawyer.

One final note on the issue of whether a debt collector is acting appropriately.  A debt collector is only allowed to demand that amount of money which is actually owed and is bona fide and reasonable.  Thus, if the debt collector is adding fees or costs which are not allowed by the terms of the lease (or are prohibited by law), then the debt collector might still be liable under the FDCPA for collecting on an inflated debt.  That kind of lawsuit could wipe out the rent claimed as due and cover your attorneys’ fees, even if the balance of the underlying debt was otherwise valid.  An experienced consumer lawyer could help there, which is what we do.  Call (614) 944-5219 if you are in Ohio.

 

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What Counts as a Lemon Car in Ohio?

What Counts as a Lemon Car in Ohio?

Most of us know the term “lemon” refers to a newly bought car that turns out to be a dud, but some are unaware that many states have laws in place to protect against such lemon sales. A new car is worth a lot of money, and many people take out loans in order to pay for one. The prospect of bringing a new car home only to find that it is defective beyond use is terrifying. Luckily, Ohio is a state that has one of these lemon laws in place.

The State of Ohio’s Lemon Law legally defines a “lemon” as a new car with at least one problem that substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the vehicle and begins to suffer from the problem within the first year or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). Under the Ohio Lemon Law, you must give the manufacturer a chance to repair the vehicle. If during the course of the repairs your manufacturer:

  • Works on the same problem in more than three separate instances in the first year or 18,000 miles.
  • Works on the vehicle for more than a cumulative thirty days in the first year or 18,000 miles.
  • Works on the same car in more than eight separate instances.

or

  • Cannot fix any errors that can result in death or serious injury on the first attempt.

Then you have a lemon on your hands, and according to the law you are entitled to a replacement or full refund.

Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. recently handled a lemon law case for a client who bought a new vehicle, and almost immediately experienced issues with the gear shift. Additionally, she claimed the car would wobble when accelerating at low speeds. If these allegations proved true, the car would likely satisfy the conditions of a lemon under Ohio law, as these problems inhibited the usability of the vehicle.

She took the car to the dealership on four separate occasions hoping to fix the issues. However, the dealership was unable to permanently correct the problems with the vehicle. Doucet & Associates ultimately obtained justice for the client by securing the return and getting her a refund plus attorney fees. If you feel you may have a lemon on your hands and you have already made the necessary attempts to get the vehicle fixed, call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.

 

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