Most states run lemon law arbitration programs designed to allow for ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ resolution of lemon law disputes between consumers and manufacturers. Massachusetts runs a lemon law arbitration program, as does Connecticut, New Jersey, and, of course, New York. Most of these programs state that they are designed to allow consumers to represent themselves, without the assistance of an attorney. But, as with all things that appear to be too good to be true, these programs aren’t really all they are cracked up to be.
Just look at the New York Lemon Law Arbitration Program’s statistics available online. The program screens applications — that is, to be accepted into the arbitration program, a consumer has to document 4 repairs or 30 days out of service for a vehicle, which are the New York Lemon Law requirements. However, it turns out that only 50% of all cases admitted into the program turn out in favor of a consumer. In contrast, virtually 100% of cases with 4 repairs/30 out-of-service days in which we represent consumers turn in the consumers’ favor.
How come? Well, there is an easy answer. In my experience, most manufacturers will vigorously defend cases in arbitration, sending one or two lawyers to each hearing, usually accompanied by the dealer and dealership service representatives. These folks know the law, know the facts, and can easily out-argue a consumer who shows up on his or her own.
So, if you want to be rid of your lemon car, the lesson is clear - avoid going without a lawyer to state-run arbitration at all costs