The Lemon Law Administration will screen your arbitration request for:
- a completed form
- copies of all the designated repair orders and documents
- eligibility requirements
- receipt of the Request For Arbitration within 30 months of the vehicle’s original retail delivery date
- a written request to the manufacturer to repurchase or replace the vehicle.
If the Lemon Law Administration rejects your Request For Arbitration due to being incomplete or an eligibility problem, a written explanation will be mailed to you with further directions.
When your Request For Arbitration form is complete with all necessary documents and repair orders, the claim record will be established. Your Request For Arbitration file will be forwarded to the arbitration board for scheduling and a copy sent to the manufacturer. You will be sent complete information on arbitration procedures and how to prepare for an arbitration hearing including a copy of the Lemon Law, RCW 19.118 and the Washington Administrative Code known as ‘rules’ adopted for the program , WAC 44-10. It is very important that you review the rules in particular as these spell out the detailed arbitration procedures and options that can be very useful to you at the arbitration hearing.
After the manufacturer has had time to review the claim and reply with a Manufacturer’s Statement, a hearing date will be set and an arbitrator assigned. At least 10 days before the hearing date you will be notified of the hearing date, time and location. Your arbitration hearing must be held within 45 days of the arbitration board’s receipt of your Request For Arbitration from the Lemon Law Administration.
You will be sent a financial information form that must completed and given to the arbitrator as the hearing with supporting documents. If you do not provide the financial form to the arbitrator, refundable items may not be included in an award. You must be prepared to present verification of all financial information at the hearing necessary to complete the calculation of an award.
The New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board
The New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board has been selected by competitive public bid to provide arbitration services for the Lemon Law program. The arbitration board and the arbitrators are not associated with any automobile dealer or manufacturer and are independent of the Attorney General’s Office. Lemon Law arbitrators are attorneys specifically trained in arbitration procedures and the Lemon Law.
The Manufacturer’s Statement
After your Request For Arbitration is forwarded to the Board, the manufacturer is required to send you a “Manufacturer’s Statement.” The manufacturer will include its perspective of the vehicle’s problems, repair history, other issues affecting the dispute and the reasons why the manufacturer believes that it should not be required to replace or repurchase the vehicle. The manufacturer must send you this statement within 10 days of being notified that your claim has been forwarded to the Arbitration Board.
You should review the manufacturers’ statements carefully when you prepare your presentation, testimony, and evidence for the hearing. You must be prepared to respond to specific defenses and issues identified by the manufacturers.
A Manufacturer’s Right to View the Vehicle
The manufacturer will have the right to inspect the vehicle before the arbitration hearing if a request is made in the Manufacturer’s Statement. During this ‘view’, the manufacturer’s representative can drive the vehicle or conduct tests with diagnostic equipment, but cannot make any repairs.
You must be present while the manufacturer views the vehicle unless you request otherwise in writing. The manufacturer and you must make arrangements for a mutually convenient time, date, and location to view the vehicle.
What if Your Claim is Resolved Before the Hearing?
If you settle, you must notify the Arbitration Board and the Lemon Law Administration immediately. You must complete and return a Settlement/Withdrawal form which will have been included in the materials sent to you.
The manufacturer may contact you to try to settle your claim. The Lemon Law has incentives for you and the manufacturer to reach a settlement agreement rather than proceeding to a hearing. It is wise to get complete settlement terms in writing from the manufacturer before withdrawing from the arbitration process. If you reach an agreement without a written agreement you should send a letter to the manufacturer’s representative with your understanding of the responsibilities of the manufacturer and yourself. An agreement should include clear dollar amounts, totals and deadlines.
If you withdraw from arbitration before your hearing for any reason including illness or settlement, you may re-file for arbitration again within the 30 month time limit. However, if you withdraw a second time, you will not be allowed to re-file for arbitration on the same grounds.
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