>> Cedric Sparks: Welcome to LawCall. We have the answer to your legal questions. In our caller segment, we’re talking about buying a car, from being stuck with a limit to when to say no to bogus fees. Give us a call at 855-LAW-1955. Maybe you would rather drive on two wheels than four. Thinking of buying a motorcycle? We’ll explain why motorcyclists don’t get a fair shake sometimes in accidents. Do you think your boss let you go unfairly? In Alabama, sometimes it doesn’t matter. We’ll talk about Employment at Will. But first, Ken Riley is here to take a look at one of your email questions: “So a car was smashed right through the window of a diner I was eating at, bouncing me off the hood like a tennis ball. I’m thankful I only broke my leg but I don’t know who to approach about my medical bills, the driver or the diner?” Oh, my goodness.
>> Ken Riley: It happens more often than you think. Garth, first of all look toward your insurance company. If you have health insurance, go ahead and get treated by your health insurance. Your health insurance company will want any recovery back. Don’t worry about that. Do that first. Secondly, you’re going to be looking at a potential claim against the individual who ran through the diner and struck you. There could be a reason the person ran through the diner. 2) He could be drinking in somewhere, someone else could have caused him to run off the road. Theory potential avenues of recovery. Then you talked about medical bills where you have out of pocket expenses, that could be covered by the diner if the other person didn’t have insurance, that vehicle that ran through the diner, they could have $1,000 to $10,000 of what’s called medical payment coverage which would cover out of pocket medical expenses.
>> Cedric Sparks: You can go to www.DeliveringJustice.com or lawcalltv.com. Next we talk about motorcycle accidents and the law.
>> Kirby Farris: It seems like accidents involving a motorcycle are painted as the biker’s fault. Is the system biased against bikers? Motorcycle accidents tend to have very serious injuries but motorcyclists have a P.R. problem. The public generally labels motorcyclists as dangerous and irresponsible drivers. The insurance company may try to suggest you share in liability in causing the accident simply by riding the motorcycle. Here’s advice. Be a good motorist. Do you respect other vehicles and wear a helmet while driving? Demonstrate an excellent driving record and give evidence you’re law abiding and responsible and it will be harder to dispute your claim if you’re involved in an accident. If you have a question, send it to lawcalltv.com. I’m Kirby Farris. Birmingham.
>> Cedric Sparks: We have an attorney joining us. Ken, who do we have joining us today?
>> Ken Riley: Tonight we have Chris Donald, an attorney, and he stumbled across something in his practice. Chris, buying a car is something you’ve gotten into. It’s not just buying a car. You’ve gotten into a niche practice. Will you take just a moment and tell the viewers about your practice and what kind of cases you handle and that sort of thing?
>> Chris Donald: Sure, Ken. Thank you for having me. I practice generally what’s called consumer law a. We represent consumers like you and me against businesses, typically, and we tend to special “and focus on the issues of buying cars. Everybody’s got to have one. It’s how you get to work, to doctor, to school, how you get your kid around. The problem is sometimes it’s not as simple as buying a car. A lot of people have financing issues. They go to a dealership expecting to get financing. They have problems with that and may have problems with the warranty later. We focus on those types of law and try to address those issues.
>> Cedric Sparks: Let’s take a call from a viewer. How are you?
>> Caller: Good.
>> Cedric Sparks: What’s your question tonight?
>> Caller: I own an SUV, come to find out, it was a lemon. I put over $15,000 worth of work into it in the shop. I was just wondering if there was any way that I could get my money back from the company?
>> Cedric Sparks: Wow. Thank you for your call.
>> Chris Donald: First of all, to make a claim of the lemon law, it’s got to be a new car. If it was a used car, you simply don’t have a claim. You may have a warranty of some sort, but it would not be a lemon law claim unless it was a new car.
>> Ken Riley: Talk to our viewers about — that’s one requirement that it’s a new car. What are other requirements that you have to meet in order to make that claim of a lemon law.
>> Chris Donald: Sure. The first thing you would need to do is whatever problem that’s arisen, you have to bring it to the dealership and have it repaired within a year of buying the car or 12,000 miles. If you don’t, you generally lose the opportunity to make that claim. You also typically have to give the dealership or manufacturer notice of the claim or notice of a problem with the car.
>> Cedric Sparks: All right. Thurman from Hamilton. Good evening. How are you?
>> Caller: Fine, thank you.
>> Cedric Sparks: You’re on LawCall. What’s your legal question for tonight?
>> Caller: I bought a new car with the lifetime warranty and the lifetime maintenance. And when I went to get the lifetime maintenance, they said they didn’t honor it anymore, that they sold out to another company.
>> Cedric Sparks: All right. You’re wondering if you have a claim now, right?
>> Chris Donald: Generally, these lifetime maintenance policies, you’re going to have to be required to go back to the dealership where you bought the car. That’s a contract between you and the dealership. I’m not quite sure if they sold the company to somebody else, whether or not they have bought the responsibility to maintain that car. Typically, that would be part of a contract you would have that an attorney would have to look at and determine how to proceed.
>> Ken Riley: So are these lifetime maintenance warranties or contracts you can purchase, that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual manufacturer, that’s strictly something that the dealership comes up with are contracts with the consumer?
>> Chris Donald: Yes, the ones we’ve seen is strictly between you and the dealership and is an incentive for you to buy a car from the dealership.
>> Cedric Sparks: Hope that answers your question. Give us a call after the break if you have a question. You’re watching Fox 6 WBRC.
>> Cedric Sparks: Has someone you know lost a job for reasons that seem unfair or unclear? Why state law may not be much of assistance to you.
>> Bob Prince: Alabama is called an Employment at Will state. That means when it comes to firing someone, there are very few reels for employers. The state doesn’t have any law on the books regarding the hiring and firing of an employee. The employer can hire and fire anyone he wants to as long as he doesn’t discriminate against the employ, including firing someone due to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, color or disability status. If you think you have been fired unfairly for your job, I couldn’t hurt to check with the State Department of Labor, or call local employment law attorney. But more often than not, hiring or firing are at the discretion of the employer and there’s not much an employee can do about it. That’s your legal brief for tonight. Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince. Back to you guys.
>> Cedric Sparks: Call us at 855-LAW-1955, if you have questions. Bernard from Bessemer, good evening. How are you?
>> Caller: Hey.
>> Cedric Sparks: You’re on LawCall. What’s your question?
>> Caller: You know, about buying a new car.
>> Cedric Sparks: Okay. You’re doing real good. You’re buying a new car. Okay. All right. Do you have any questions about the lemon law? Are you concerned any about the lemon law? That’s what we’re discussing this evening.
>> Caller: Yes. Okay. About buying a new car.
>> Ken Riley: He said, “What I need to look for when I’m buying a new car”, so that’s just a general question. Chris, that’s something we that you could about as being something our viewers needed to know. Let’s talk to this gentleman.
>> Chris Donald: A couple of things, if you get this car financed, you need to know something called a “Yo-Yo car sale”. The dealership will offer to finance the car. They may tell you you’re approved. They may take a down payment or a trade-in. They may call you up a few weeks later and say “we need the car back or we need you to come in and sign documents”. You may not owe anybody for this car at this point and you may not have been sold the car at all. We have seen down payments being kept, trade-ins being kept and sometimes the customer walks away with nothing. You need to be aware of that. You also need to make sure that you get everything in writing. No matter what you’re told at the dealership, if you don’t have it in writing, it probably doesn’t hold water.
>> Ken Riley: So we were also talking about if the gentleman was to finance the vehicle. We were talking about “fluffing” income in order to get financing for someone. Talk about the pit falls about that.
>> Chris Donald: This has been in the news a lot lately. Some dealerships will take somebody with marginal or low credit or maybe not any credit at all, and they will actually inflate the numbers of your income to give to a bank, falsely inflating those numbers to make it look like you’re worthy of credit when you’re really not. The problem is the dealership typically gets paid with the car and the consumer gets stuck with the loan they will never be able to pay back because they don’t make that kind of money. We’ve seen this happen a lot with people with Social Security payments, people on fixed income, people who just don’t have a lot of income. And the dealerships are taking advantage of the bank and the consumer – the purchaser of the car – gets stuck with the short end of the deal.
>> Ken Riley: And they’re going to end up getting repo’d by the bank, they’re probably going to get sued by the bank for having overages.
>> Chris Donald: Probably get a hit on your credit report.
>> Ken Riley: And so the dealership, they make off like they’re fine.
>> Chris Donald: That’s right. The dealership has sold their car, they get their payment. Everything’s okay as far as they’re concerned. It’s everybody else involved that gets hurt.
>> Cedric Sparks: I hope that answers your question. Mary from Bessemer. Mary, good evening. How are you?
>> Caller: Yes. I’ve recently purchased a car and paid my down payment last week, and I received a letter from the bank that financed the car saying I owed an extra payment and said that was the final remittance paid. And I’ve never — you know, I told them, I said, I had 59 months to pay for this. I said, and why — you know, you’re telling me I owe some additional money? And he kept saying that was the final payment.
>> Cedric Sparks: Okay. Thanks for your question.
>> Chris Donald: I’m not sure of the term that you used, the “final payment” or the “found payment,” I’m not sure what you said, but oftentimes in paying off a car loan or financing contract, if you miss a payment, the bank – the financing company – is going to continue to charge you interest and often they’ll tack this on at the end. So even though when you think you’ve made your last payment, you haven’t.
>> Cedric Sparks: All right. Thank you for your call, miss Mary, I hope that answers your question. We’ll take another call from one of our viewers. From Centerville. What’s your legal question tonight?
>> Caller: We have a truck in the shop. They say gas has been put in it, but it all sits in front of our house and we have a camper and the only time it’s run is when he pulls the camper in it. They said gas was in it. I thought it might be water. I told them we had to have it fixed. They went on to fix it. Then Friday they called me and said they were pulling the head off and some bolts broke off, that’s going to cost another $1,000. It’s going to put it close to $10,000 for them to fix that truck. I asked them, I said, why can’t Ford pay for some of it? They said, well, we tried and they won’t do it. I said, well, I don’t think I should have to pay for the bolts breaking off, because it was running and they were on there when we brought it to you.
>> Cedric Sparks: Thanks for your question. Response, gentlemen?
>> Chris Donald: I think it depend on whether it’s still under the manufacturer warranty. If it’s still under the Ford warranty, you may have a claim. The dealership shouldn’t make a negligent repair. You may have a claim against the dealership for improperly repairing it. If it’s not under warranty I advise you to get a second opinion.
>> Cedric Sparks: A lot of great information, two great attorneys. Back with more questions. You’re watching Fox 6, WBRC.
>> Cedric Sparks: Set your calendar, on August 2nd, we talk about crime and punishment. August 9th all about injuries, and August 16th workers’ compensation. You have more questions for Chris Donald, call his office or visit his Web site. And to reach Bob Prince in Tuscaloosa, call this number or visit his Web site. If you have any questions of Farris, Riley & Pitt, reach them here in Birmingham, Alabama. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook. All right, remember, if you have calls, give a call. We have two dynamic attorneys waiting to hear from you, and we do have another
>> Caller on the line. We have Bobby from Maplesville. Good evening. How are you?
>> Caller: Fine, how are you?
>> Cedric Sparks: Fine, what’s your legal question?
>> Caller: I bought a 2013 Dodge Journey and it quit on me on June 10. I’ve taken it to a dealership and had it repaired, and they told me that the factory warranty was going to take care of it, okay. And then, after they did that, they said that it needed another part on it that my extended warranty was going to have to pay for, which is fine because I have an extended warranty. But now they’re telling me they can’t get the part in for the vehicle, and that’s been, like, seven weeks ago.
>> Caller: And they won’t give me a car to drive or anything. So I would like to know, you know, what can I do? What step do I need to take?
>> Cedric Sparks: Thank you for your call, okay?
>> Chris Donald: Generally the dealerships aren’t authorized to give an owner a loaner car. Though it’s not uncommon to have dueling warranties where the factory won’t want to pay for the part and tell you to get an extended warranty. Both warranty companies are saying we’re not doing it. You pay take this information to an attorney, have him look at your documents and he may be able to tell you whether that should be fixed under the warranty.
>> Cedric Sparks: Jason from Clanton, good evening.
>> Caller: Hey, how you guys doing?
>> Cedric Sparks: Great. How are you? What’s your question tonight?
>> Caller: Doing all right, guy.
>> Cedric Sparks: Wonderful.
>> Caller: I purchased a brand new 2014 car. What happens is every 30 to 40 days or so, the air conditioner starts to smell really moldy. It’s a real bad stink that comes into the car. I took it to the dealership and they have been putting this sanitizing spray in it. It freshens the air for a little while and it starts stinking again. Right now my car is under a 30,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. So they’ve already fixed it as far as sanitation spray probably four or five times and it just keeps happening. What I’m wondering is, once the warranty expires, will I have to pick up on paying that for the life of the car? Or, is that something that’s going to haunt me?
>> Chris Donald: Great question. There is actually a name for this. It’s called “dirty sock syndrome”.
>> Caller: No kidding.
>> Chris Donald: I think this is something that the manufacturer or the dealership should fix, and if they don’t fix it right the first time, you may be set up to make a lemon law claim on something like this. If it effects the usefulness to you, and this is something you may not want to have your guests driving around in a stinky car, it may affect the drivability of it at some point. Ultimately, I would go back to the dealership and try to get them to fix it. If they don’t, you may contact an attorney to have them look into this.
>> Ken Riley: How many opportunities should you give or, under the law, must you give a dealership to fix a problem that would qualify under a lemon law claim?
>> Chris Donald: Sure. Generally, you need to make three attempts to have something fixed and often a final repair. You have to do this in the first year of ownership or 12,000 miles, or if it is out of service for 30 days or more because of repairs on that same problem, then you have set yourself up for a lemon law claim.
>> Cedric Sparks: Great question. Hope that helps a lot. Good information. Another call, Diana from Center Point. Good evening, how are you?
>> Caller: Hi, how are you doing?
>> Cedric Sparks: Just fine. You’re on LawCall. What’s your question?
>> Caller: I bought a lemon and it was a 2013 SUV. It was brand new. What happened was it turned out to have an air bag defect.
>> Cedric Sparks: Say the last part again. We couldn’t quite hear the end. If you get a chance, call back. We couldn’t catch the end of the question but we want to assist you. Sharita, how are you?
>> Caller: Fine, how are you?
>> Cedric Sparks: Just fine. You’re on LawCall. What’s your question tonight?
>> Caller: I have a car with the current recall and it needs repairs. I was trying to see what do I need to do in order to get a rental for the 5 to 7 days it would take for them to repair my vehicle.
>> Cedric Sparks: Great question, I hope a lot of people have that situation.
>> Chris Donald: I’m not sure the dealer was able to give them the rental or not. That was between you and the dealership. They’re obligated to make the repair but I don’t know about the rental.
>> Cedric Sparks: We talked about new versus used earlier. Talk about why you may have a claim on a used, not a new car.
>> Chris Donald: If you buy a used car, unless it has a factory warranty, you probably don’t have a warranty at all. If you buy a new car, you probably have a lemon law claim within a certain amount of time. With a used car, unless there’s a warranty or factory warranty on it, you’re out of luck.
>> Ken Riley: Let me ask you this — You hear about CarFax.com. Is that useful for a consumer? Should someone who’s buying a used car, should they go and pull a CarFax?
>> Chris Donald: Yes, I would recommend that. I would recommend they look at more than one title history source because they all have different information.
>> Cedric Sparks: Great information. For generally legal information all day, 855-5297. Join us next Sunday for crime and punishment. Good night, everybody.
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