What are your legal rights during the United Auto Workers strike?

The United Auto Workers strike may soon leave drivers stranded and in need of vehicle parts. A local expert says the strike will start to dramatically exacerbate the problem for consumers and dealers alike.

“This has been going on since COVID. They had an excuse in the beginning. Now, they don’t,” said consumer attorney Robert Silverman with 1-800-Lemon-Law.

He has been fielding complaint calls from potential clients with vehicles tied up at dealerships.

“The problem is they’re not being given loaners. They’re being promised that if they rent a car, they’ll be reimbursed. The reimbursement is below the market. So, they can’t get a vehicle,” Silverman told WTOP.

But he said consumers do have legal rights: “Every state has a lemon law.”

Under the lemon law, Silverman said, consumers could get a brand-new car or a substantial refund if their car has been out of service for a long period of time.

“Generally, it will include sales tax, tags, title, registration, finance charges or interest paid. And then there’ll be a small use charge for the miles driven normally after the first repair attempt. Some states provide for a free new car,” he said.

Silverman said the lemon law typically applies to the severity of the vehicle’s defect, number of repairs and if the vehicle has been in a shop for at least 30 days.

“You want to get documentation from the dealership that clearly shows when the vehicle went in and what your complaints are. You also want to get something in writing as to the ETA for parts and repairs, and you want to follow up, have documentation and emails about your follow up and trying to get your car back,” he added.

After all that documentation is gathered, and there has been no response from the dealership or auto repair shop, Silverman recommended reaching out to a reputable lemon lawyer.

“We represent consumers for free. We get paid, shifted by law to the manufacturer, which means if we get you a cash recovery or we get you a refund of your car, the car manufacturer has got to pay our legal fees on your behalf,” he said. “If for any reason we can’t help a consumer, they don’t owe us anything, we don’t get paid.”

But if the vehicle doesn’t qualify for the lemon law, “then on a breach of warranty matter, they’re entitled to a large cash recovery,” Silverman said. “A percentage of their original purchase price that’s supposed to represent what you bargained for and what you received.”

Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones is an Anchor/Reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news industry for more than two decades.

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