How long to file a lemon law claim?

March 4, 2010

A statute of limitation is the time period you have to file a lawsuit. After the statute of limitation expires, a lemon law claim can no longer be brought in court, no matter what the facts of your case.

The Missouri state lemon law statute of limitation gives consumers 18 months from the date of \purchase to file a claim. If a consumer goes through informal arbitration, such as the BBB Autoline, near the end of that 18 month period, the time period may be extended up to an additional 90 days. Otherwise, after 18 months, the Missouri lemon law statute of limitation expires, making it difficult or impossible to obtain a repurchase or replacement of your vehicle.

The federal lemon law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, does not contain its own statute of limitation. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals has determined that, like other Missouri breach of contract claims, the federal lemon law should use a 4 year statute of limitation. At a minimum, therfeore, a consumer should have 4 years from the date of purchase to bring a Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claim.

But consumers do not know at the time of purchase that the vehicle will be a lemon. Missouri law also says that the statute of limitation should not start until the date on which a consumer knew, or perhaps should have known, about a vehicle’s defects. Unfortunately, while this rule does not apply to the Missouri lemon law, at least one Court decision approximated the start date of the statute of limitation for a federal lemon law claim as the first repair attempt.

Courts have also recently begun to consider the situation where a warranty lasts longer than 4 years. It does not seem fair that consumers with a 6, 7, or even 10 year warranty would be unable to bring a federal lemon law claim while still within their vehicle’s warranty period. Thus, a recent federal court decision suggested that a consumer should have 4 years, starting from the date the warranty expires, to bring a Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claim.

This information does not constitute legal advice. You should confirm the statute of limitation period for your claim with an attorney as soon as possible.

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