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By Jarome Gautreaux

If you’ve recently purchased a new car in Georgia and discover that it has a defect, then you might have purchased a “lemon.” Don’t assume, however, that just because it has a defect then it will qualify under the Georgia Lemon Law. The defect must be a qualifying defect, and there are certain steps that must be followed to recover under the law.

As a personal injury law firm, Gautreaux Law helps people who have been injured in an accident. Most often, the people we help have been injured in a car/truck accident, by a defective product, on a company’s property, or by a medical professional. But we often get calls from people who need help with other types of issues, such as property damage or insurance disputes.  One of the more common questions we get is what to do if the new car you’ve purchased has a defect and it’s not being fixed properly or in a timely manner.  So we do talk with folks all the time who feel they have bought a “lemon” car.

Did I Purchase a Lemon

There are certain general criteria that must be met before your car can qualify as a “lemon”, allowing you to recover under the Georgia Lemon Law.  Of course, every case has its own facts, so be sure to rely on the advice of an attorney who handles these cases for an analysis of your particular case.

When was the Car Purchased/Leased?

  • The car must be a new vehicle purchased, leased or registered in the state of Georgia;
  • The vehicle must have been submitted to the manufacturer’s authorized dealer for repair of the defect or condition within the first 24 months after purchase, or up to 24,000 miles, whichever comes first; and
  • The car’s title must be in the original owner’s name and cannot have been previously issued to anyone other than the new motor vehicle dealer.

Does the Vehicle have a Qualifying Defect

  • Any serious safety defect that makes the car unsafe to drive (i.e., braking system, seatbelts, car stalls);
  • Any other defect or condition that substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value or safety to the car; and/or
  • Any other defect or condition that renders the vehicle nonconforming to a manufacturer’s warranty.

The Manufacturer or Authorized Dealer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defect

  • 1 attempt for a serious defect that could result in serious injury or loss of life
  • 3 attempts for less serious defects
  • If the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for at least 30 days

Paper Trail – Although not a requirement, it is important to keep all information about the vehicle’s history to prove/verify your case. If your case goes to arbitration or court, it is up to you to prove that your vehicle is a “lemon.”

  • Copies of any receipts or records of repair orders
  • Dates and names of people spoken to about the problem
  • Any correspondence between you and the manufacturer or authorized dealer

Who to Contact if You have a Lemon

If your attempts to get your vehicle fixed have been unsuccessful then you may want to take the next step toward recovery, which can be filing a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs. If you answer “yes” to all of their initial questions (a list of their FAQs can be found here), then you may be able to proceed with a Lemon Law Complaint and will be required to complete each of the 5-steps of the Lemon Law Process.

When to Contact a Lawyer

If you find that you are unable to complete the process on your own; if there is a dispute about whether your vehicle qualifies as a Lemon; or if you are unable to get your money back or full value for your vehicle then you may want to hire a lawyer to help you. Don’t worry if you think you can’t afford a lawyer, Lemon laws in every state generally require the manufacturer to pay for your Lemon Law lawyer’s help.

Gautreaux Law is a personal injury law firm located in Macon, Georgia, helping people throughout the entire state of Georgia. If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, contact our office for a free consultation and to find out what your case is worth. There are no fees to you until we recover for your injury.

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.