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NEW YORK LEMON LAW ATTORNEY


You probably didn’t expect to have reliability issues with your brand new vehicle. You might have anticipated an occasional problem - and that’s what the warranty is for. But for the most part you probably figured that your car would get you where you wanted to go without any persistent headaches. When that expectation wasn’t met, and your car ended up spending way too much time at the dealership, you probably felt frustrated. Extremely frustrated. So now what?

Perhaps the most important thing you can do at this point is choose the right New York Lemon Law attorney.

In my experience representing consumer in New York Lemon Law cases over the past 10 years, people that retain effective legal assistance early in the process often have better results. I know this statement can be construed as self-serving, but that doesn't make it less true. I have probably heard clients tell me over a hundred times that their manufacturer concluded they didn't have a lemon law case. Newsflash: Your manufacturer doesn't want to buy back your vehicle if it can avoid doing so! Having expert assistance can and very often does make the difference between getting rid of your lemon, or unfortunately, being stuck with it.

This article will discuss some of the things you may want to take into account when choosing a New York Lemon Law attorney. Of course, there is no objectively right or wrong way to do it, but there are certainly some things to look for and some warning signs as well.

LEMON LAW ATTORNEY FEES


As a general rule (subject to one exception detailed below), you should not have to pay a New York Lemon Law attorney out of pocket to handle your claim.

The statutes that we utilize generally contain fee shifting provisions. This means that if you were to win a case in court, you could recover your attorney fees from the manufacturer. In practice, this extends to pre-litigation settlements where a vehicle is repurchased or replaced. Since manufacturers are aware that a lawsuit might commence if they refuse to pay attorney fees pre-litigation, they do so rather than pay higher fees later on if you sue.

Thus, where you are seeking a buyback or replacement, a New York Lemon Law attorney should be willing to recover his or her fee directly from the manufacturer. One thing to watch for is if a retainer agreement contains a specific fee that is expected to be paid in such an event. For instance, if your attorney says that he expects to be paid $2,500 for a pre-litigation replacement, and the manufacturer only offers $1,500 in attorney fees, your attorney might seek the remainder from you. You should seek out a New York Lemon Law attorney who will specifically agree in the case of a Lemon Law buyback or replacement, that he or she will limit his fee to what the manufacturer will pay.

Where you are seeking monetary compensation but not a buyback or replacement, the fee arrangements are usually a little bit different pre-litigation. In these types of cases, the manufacturer is offering a specific sum of money, say $6,000, to settle the claim with no separate attorney fees being paid and you keep the vehicle. My firm is typically paid 1/3 of these cash settlements as an attorney fee. Some firms say they are paid by the manufacturer in these types of settlement, and even go so far as to claim their representation is “free.” While that might be the case on a buyback or replacement case where an attorney fee over and above what the client is entitled to is indeed typically offered by the manufacturer, it isn’t exactly true here. They might be getting the same $6,000 offer from the manufacturer, but then allocating, for instance $2,500 to themselves for an attorney fee “paid by the manufacturer” and $3,500 to you. Sometimes, the allocation is even less generous. My advice to consumers is to insist upon a precise measurement of how an attorney fee is measured in these types of cases – a percentage or a specific amount.

The one exception to the rule about no out of pocket costs to the client in these cases is where you have elected to bring an arbitration against the manufacturer under the New York State Attorney General’s Office Lemon Law arbitration program. In that context, attorney fees cannot be recovered from the manufacturer, so it would be appropriate for the attorney to collect a fee from the client up front.

REPUTATION AND EXPERIENCE


Many of us have had bad experiences with attorneys in the past. Like all other professions, there are both good and bad apples, incompetents and virtuosos. In a perfect world you would be able to get a personal recommendation from someone you trust before ever hiring an attorney for anything. Unfortunately, particularly in an unusual practice area like the Lemon Law, you can’t always get such a recommendation. Nonetheless, there are still other criteria that can be used to evaluate the credibility of attorneys.

Experience is perhaps the most important factor in choosing a New York Lemon Law attorney. An attorney who devotes substantially all of his or her practice to the Lemon Law will probably know a lot more about it than an attorney who also handles injuries and bankruptcies. Put it this way – you wouldn't go to a cardiologist if you had a toothache, so why would you go to a general practice lawyer if you have car problems? When it comes to experience you want a New York Lemon Law attorney who concentrates in just that area, and moreover, has been doing it for a while.

While experience can be extremely important, it isn't necessarily the end all and be all of choosing an attorney. Being experienced, for instance, doesn't necessarily mean you will always spend the time to do things right. In that sense, reputation can be just as important in choosing who to hire. Testimonials, in particular, are a great way to gauge the reputation of an attorney. If many former clients are vouching for an attorney, it can go a long way towards demonstrating that the attorney is credible, accessible to his or her clients, and gets good results. You can view our firm’s testimonials by clicking here. Other ways of determining an attorney’s reputation is peer endorsements on such web sites as Eugene W. Krukas at Avvo, or Eugene W. Krukas at LinkedIn.

LOCATION


In recent years I have noticed a lot of New York Lemon Law attorneys who are actually located out of state. Often they have licenses in New York and several other states. While I think it’s entirely possible for an attorney located out of state to do a perfectly fine job, I also think that at times it can be a hindrance. For instance, I have been contacted quite a few times by individuals who were given poor advice in applying for a sales tax refund on a buyback because their attorney, located out of state, doesn’t understand the New York tax rules. Another situation where we see many out of state attorneys fumble the ball on their New York cases is with the unique “refusal to repair ” provision of the New York Lemon Law statute. Most states don’t have anything that resembling this provision. Thus, we have had clients contact us who clearly need to mail a refusal to repair letter per the statute, and are not advised to do so by their out of state attorney.

CONCLUSION


Choosing the right New York Lemon Law attorney can make the difference between a good result and a bad one. I hope that we have been able to provide you with relevant information that helps guide your search. We strongly believe that our firm provides the best service in the state. If you would like to discuss your case with us, with no obligation, please click on the “free case evaluation” button below, or call us at 516-780-0760.



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Eugene Krukas, Esq.

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Bellmore, NY 11710

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