Choosing the Right Attorney
When looking for an attorney to represent you in a California lemon law claim, it is important to find an attorney that you can trust, who is an expert in the California lemon law, who will aggressively litigate your claim, who shares your goals in the case, and whose fees and costs are acceptable.
Make Sure That Your Attorney Specializes in Lemon Law Lawsuits
With regard to expertise, you should ask how many lemon-law cases the attorney has litigated and what his or her success rate is. Even more importantly, if you think that there might be any potential problems with your lawsuit, you should ask how the attorney plans to overcome them. An attorney who wants to sign you up for a California lemon law claim without a specific plan for winning may be more interested in maximizing his case load than ensuring that every one of his or her clients wins.
Ask About Attorney’s Fees and Costs
With regard to fees, you want to find out if the attorney will charge you any money up front, or whether he or she will take the case on a contingency fee basis. Most attorneys who are experts in the California lemon law are willing to take cases on a contingency fee basis – because they believe they are likely to win. So if you have a decent case, it is probably not necessary to front any of the attorney’s fees.
You also want to ask what, if any, percentage of your recovery the attorney will keep for himself or herself. Specifically, most attorneys will ask for a portion of any “civil penalty” payment or punitive damages that they recover. Civil Penalties and punitive damages are payments that you might receive in addition to your vehicle repurchase or replacement (see How Much Can I Win in a Lemon Law Lawsuit). The percentage of civil penalties and punitive damages that attorneys retain for themselves will vary from lawyer to lawyer. However, it is generally between 25% and 40%. Bear in mind that paying your attorney a portion of your recovery isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it aligns your interests, giving the attorney a direct financial incentive to recover as much money as possible.
Additionally, you should consider whether the attorney intends to retain any portion of the reimbursement payments that you recover (e.g., the money you are awarded to reimburse you for the down payment and monthly payments that you made towards the vehicle). Some attorneys will ask for as much as 10% of this recovery.
Find an Attorney Who Shares Your Goals for the Case
You should discuss with an attorney what recovery he or she believes you are likely to recover. You should also inquire about how long the lawsuit is likely to take. As a general rule, lawsuits in which consumers are determined to recover a civil penalty take longer than similar cases in which the consumers are only seeking a lemon law buyback.
One of the most important considerations is whether you trust your attorney. Your attorney is the one who is going to make recommendations about how much your case is worth, how long it is likely to take, and how much litigation (i.e., time) is necessary to prevail. In a nutshell, you need to find a lawyer that you are going to trust when he gives you bad news.
The Vachon Law Firm are Experts in Lemon Law Lawsuits
At the Vachon Law Firm, we have successfully litigated hundreds of California lemon law lawsuits and obtained recovery for over 99% of our clients. In good cases, we do not ask for any portion of the consumer’s reimbursement recovery. Further, we believe that it is always worthwhile to pursue punitive recovery. If the defendants seem determined to resist such recover, we let our clients know and obtain their input on how to proceed. Finally, we are always 100% straightforward with our clients (and prospective clients). If you have a great case, we will tell you. If you don’t, we will tell you that too.
- Back to California Lemon Law Info Page