What is Lemon Law Legal Presumption?

CA Lemon Law court trial

In California, the concept of a legal presumption also applies to lemon law warranty disputes. A legal presumption is when the court, based on certain criteria, assumes a fact is true until there is greater evidence that outweighs or disproves the fact. The job of the defense, then, is to present contradictory evidence to rebut and disprove this presumption. 

California Lemon Law presumption, as laid out in the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, allows the court to assume that a defective vehicle is a lemon when certain facts, as outlined below, are established and submitted as evidence.


What is Lemon Law Legal Presumption?

In California, the court presumes your vehicle is a lemon if it meets any of these three conditions within 18 months or 18,000 miles after it was purchased or leased: 

  • At least two repairs were made to your vehicle for a critical safety defect that may cause serious bodily injury or death; 
  • At least four repairs were done on your vehicle for a singular defect that is deemed a non-serious safety defect or issue;
  • The vehicle was kept in the repair shop and out of service for at least 30 days (cumulative) for any combination of defects or issues. 

When your vehicle meets any of the above criteria within this time frame, the court assumes that your vehicle is a lemon and the burden of proof falls on the defense (the auto manufacturer) to disprove the facts and rebut the presumption.

Under these circumstances, the manufacturer might assert that they were not given the opportunity to  repair the vehicle’s defects, that the defect is not a serious safety issue, or that you voided the warranty by altering your vehicle or bringing it to an unauthorized repair facility. 

During the litigation process, there will be claims and counter-claims;   This is where the importance of having a skilled and experienced Lemon Law attorney by your side becomes apparent. If you suspect your car is a lemon, we strongly recommend that you consult with a lawyer as early as possible to get proper guidance and to build an airtight case.  


Outside the Presumption Period

What if the issues or defects appeared after the presumption period? Are you still entitled to file a claim for compensation?

Yes. If the defects and subsequent repairs occurred within the manufacturer’s warranty period, you can still file a claim for compensation under CA Lemon Law

Let’s say you encountered issues with the vehicle 20 months after you purchased or leased it, or the car broke down exactly two years after you drove it off the dealership lot for the first time, you may still have a claim.  

In general, manufacturer warranties provide consumer protection well beyond the first 18 months or first 18,000 miles. As long as the vehicle defects and necessary repair attempts happened within the warranty period specified in your contract, you may still file a lemon law compensation claim. This warranty protection applies to used vehicles purchased or leased in California, as well.


What Happens When Presumption is Established?

A case that is built on solid evidence within the lemon law presumption period is often a strong one. Here are the steps on how to file a Lemon Law case. When filed, the manufacturer may accept the claim and settle to avoid additional legal costs – especially if they feel likely to lose in court. Alternatively, they may offer counter-claims and proceed with a trial. 

If you win the case, you’ll get compensation in one of three ways:

  • Buyback. The manufacturer will issue a refund for the purchase price of your vehicle including contract charges, financing fees, and monthly payments. 
  • Vehicle replacement. The manufacturer will replace your vehicle with a new one that’s substantially identical in make and model. 
  • Cash settlement. The manufacturer pays you a set amount for the costs and losses you may have incurred as a result of owning a lemon. 


California lemon lawyer advising clients

Get Competent Legal Advice

If you think you have a lemon and would like to seek compensation, you need to speak with an experienced California lemon lawyer. They can  advise you about the provisions of the California Lemon Law, determine if you have a strong case, help you gather the necessary documents to use as evidence, and guide you through the entire claims process. 

Whatever the outcome is, you will not be spending out of pocket on attorney fees. If we win your case, the auto manufacturer must pay your lawyer  and filing fees. Your attorney will not bill you in the event that we lose your case. 

Not sure if your case falls under the legal presumption rule? Get accurate advice right now – you may still have a case! Call us today at (323) 553-7525 for a free consultation or fill out the form on the right and we will get back to you as soon as we can.


Ask for Assistance From These CA Government Offices


Visit the website of the California Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit or call their number at 1-800-952-5225 to lodge a complaint against an auto manufacturer or their authorized dealership within the state.


The California Department of Insurance can help settle any disputes about canceled service contracts. Visit their website for any issues or call their number at 1-800-927-HELP (4357).


If your car dealership has refused to honor the terms of your service or vehicle warranty contract, fill out the DMV Complaint Form at the California DMV’s Division of Investigation or call their number at 1-800-777-0133.

For more information on state and federal agencies who may be able to assist with your Lemon Law claim, visit our page on Government Agencies to File a Report or Complain About A Defective Motor Vehicle.