Filing a Lemon Law Claim in Georgia
The Georgia lemon law for new cars was implemented to help consumers get defective vehicles repaired or replaced by their manufacturers. Manufacturers that cannot repair the defects are required to either replace the vehicles or buy them back. The lemon law program is administered by the Consumer Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Law. An experienced Georgia lemon law attorney can help you to navigate the process and increase your chances of prevailing in your lemon law case. Here is some information about the lemon law in Georgia and how it works.
Before you can pursue your GA lemon law rights through a lemon law claim in the state of Georgia, you must first meet the following requirements under Georgia’s Lemon Law:
• You leased, purchased, or registered a new vehicle in Georgia.
• You tried to have your vehicle repaired by an authorized dealer or repair facility.
• The repair attempts by the authorized dealer or repair facility happened during the first two years or the first 24,000 miles, whichever was reached first.
• You are the person who leased or purchased the vehicle, and it is still in your name.
• You either purchased the vehicle for personal use or for business purposes for a business with up to 10 vehicles.
• The defect must either be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or substantially impair your vehicle’s safety or value or your ability to use it.
If you leased your vehicle, you must notify the leasing company about the problems in writing. If you are eligible for the lemon law program, it is critical for you to document all repair attempts and the dates and odometer readings for your vehicle every time you take it in for a repair attempt. You should keep your repair orders and records together as you go through the process.
Providing the manufacturer with reasonable repair attempts
Under the lemon law in Georgia, you will be required to show that you gave the manufacturer a reasonable chance to try to repair the defect within the first 24 months of ownership or within the first 24,000 miles, whichever is reached first. Manufacturers or their authorized agents or dealers are the only parties allowed to make repair attempts since getting repairs at non-authorized repair shops can void your manufacturer’s warranty.
During an attempt, the manufacturer, authorized agent, or dealership will adjust or replace parts to try to repair the defect. You should keep copies of the repair orders for each visit. If the authorized agent or dealership fails to make repairs during a visit, it will be counted as an attempt if you can later show that work should have been performed.
In a GA lemon law case, you will be required to give the manufacturer three chances to repair the defect in your vehicle. However, if the defect qualifies as a serious defect for safety reasons, you only need to give the manufacturer a single chance to repair it. Serious safety defects include those that endanger your life and are likely to cause injuries if they are not fixed. However, you will have the burden of proving that a safety defect is truly life-threatening in a Georgia lemon law claim, so providing the manufacturer with three opportunities to repair your vehicle is generally the best idea.
You will be considered to have provided the manufacturer with reasonable opportunities to try to repair your vehicle when you have been unable to use it because of repairs that have kept the vehicle out of service for 30 or more days. The total number of days you could not use it is counted for repairs of single defects or more problems. You count the number of days beginning from the day you take your vehicle into the authorized dealer or agent for a repair to the day the work is finished, including holidays and weekends that might happen while your vehicle is in the shop. However, you cannot count days when your vehicle is in the shop for such things as hail damage, routine maintenance, or repairs that occurred after the lemon law period expired.
Final attempt to repair your vehicle
Once the manufacturer has had the opportunity to attempt to repair your vehicle three times for a defect that remains uncorrected, you are required to give the manufacturer a final opportunity to repair it. You will need to send the manufacturer a notice that you are giving it the final opportunity to repair your vehicle.
This notice should include your name, address, phone number, the car’s make, model, VIN, and year, its current odometer reading, the date of purchase and delivery, and the name and address of the dealer. You will also need to list the defect, the repair attempt dates and locations, and state that the defect still exists. You must send this letter by certified, return receipt mail to the manufacturer. You can find the address in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Keep the tracking number and return receipt to prove that your notice was delivered.
After the manufacturer receives your notice, it must send a notice to you of a repair facility to take your vehicle to within seven days or by the end of the business day that follows a holiday or weekend. If the manufacturer calls you by telephone, write down the date and time of the call and the facility you were told to take your vehicle to for the final repair attempt. The final repair attempt should be completed no later than 14 days after you take your vehicle into the designated facility, and the facility should be located no further than 60 miles from where you live or where your vehicle is located. If the manufacturer does not have an authorized facility within 60 miles, the facility must be the one that is nearest to your home or your vehicle.
Options when the manufacturer doesn’t attempt a final repair or fails to fix it
If the manufacture does not respond to your final repair notice or cannot repair the defect during the final repair attempt, you are entitled to receive a refund or a replacement. You can request a replacement or refund through the manufacturer. If it refuses, you can pursue a replacement or a Georgia lemon law buyback by going through your manufacturer’s certified arbitration process or the state’s arbitration program. Before you can file a lemon law lawsuit or participate in Georgia’s state-run arbitration program, you are required to go through your manufacturer’s arbitration program if it has one, an experienced Georgia Lemon Law Attorney can help you with this process and advise as to your rights under Georgia’s Lemon Law and other consumer protection laws.
Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution procedure that happens outside of court. It provides a way for consumers to resolve warranty disputes by going before an arbitrator and testifying about the repair history and defects of their vehicles.
After the arbitrator has issued the decision, you can either accept or reject it. If you disagree with the manufacturer’s arbitration decision, you can then submit an application to the state-run arbitration program no later than 60 days from the date you reject the manufacturer’s program’s decision.
If your manufacturer does not have its own certified arbitration program or you disagree with the decision, you can submit your application to the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. Under the law, you must go through this program before a lawsuit can be filed. If you disagree with the decision you receive from the state-run program, you can then file a lawsuit to pursue appropriate legal remedies. Before filing a lawsuit, you should retain an experienced Georgia lemon lawyer.
If you succeed in court with your Georgia lemon law claim, you might be able to recover attorney’s fees in addition to a lemon law buyback or a replacement of your vehicle. A Georgia lemon law buyback will also include a refund of other costs, including your sales tax, the interest you paid on your auto loan, towing expenses, and rental vehicle fees. This amount will be offset by the purchase price times the miles you put on your vehicle until the time of the first repair attempt. Your attorney can help you calculate this value.
If you opt for a replacement, the manufacturer must provide you with the same vehicle or one that is of equal value. If you leased the vehicle, and the manufacturer repurchases it, you are entitled to receive a refund of the payments you made, the allowance you received for a trade-in vehicle, and your incidental expenses minus the offset.
Consult with a Georgia lemon law attorney for help
It can be stressful to buy or lease a new car that has a defect. Fortunately, the GA lemon law for new cars offers some protection to consumers. An experienced Georgia lemon law attorney can help you to understand your rights and the process and guide you through all of the steps. Contact us today at 404-737-3451 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your GA lemon law rights.