What is a Lemon Under Georgia Lemon Law?
Georgia Lemon Law covers new passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, and trucks under 10,000 pounds, as well as the motorized portions of RVs and demonstrators that are sold as new motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s warranties that are purchased or leased in Georgia. In order to be considered a “lemon,” the vehicle must meet the following requirements:
- Does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty
- Has substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle
- Has manufacturer’s defects that occurred during the first year from the delivery date or 12,000 miles on the odometer (whichever comes first)
- Has been taken in for repair during the first year from the delivery date or 12,000 miles on the odometer (whichever comes first), and has been taken in for subsequent repairs within 24 months or 24,000 miles of the date of the first repair attempt
- Has been taken in one time for a serious defect in the brakes or steering system, two times for another life-threatening defect, or the vehicle has been out of service for a total of 30 calendar days (15 of them within one year or 12,000 miles) or taken in three times for the same defect
- After the dealer has tried to repair the vehicle the required number of times, you have notified the manufacturer via certified mail and the manufacturer has had the opportunity to make a final repair attempt
- The vehicle is owned or leased by the original owner or lessee
- The vehicle is used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; or, the vehicle is owned or leased by a business that owns or leases only one or two vehicles, has ten or fewer employees, and has an annual net income of $100,000 or less
Getting Lemon Justice — Relief Under Georgia Lemon Law
Georgia Lemon Law provides several options for a successful Lemon Law claimant. First, you may be awarded a replacement vehicle of the same year, make, and model. You may also qualify for a refund, which can include:
- The purchase price (the amount you agreed to pay before taxes were added and any trade-in value or down payment subtracted)
- Collateral charges (including, but not limited to, sales tax and other government charges, dealer charges, dealer-installed items, extended warranty, and all interest you paid on the vehicle loan)
- Incidental costs associated with repairing the vehicle, such as towing, alternate transportation, and repair charges
- Attorney’s fees
The amount of the refund may be reduced by a deduction for your use of the vehicle, which is calculated by multiplying the purchase price by the mileage at the time you sent the 30-Day Demand Letter and dividing that amount by 100,000.
Can I file a lawsuit right away?
If a manufacturer has a certified arbitration program, consumers are required to enter such programs to resolve disputes. Is there is no such program in place, a lawsuit may be filed right away. The Attorney General also has an binding arbitration system for resolution of Lemon Law Claims. Arbitrators have the authority to award attorneys fees to attorneys representing consumers.
Hiring a Lemon Law Lawyer in Georgia
Most vehicle manufacturers follow the principle of “No lawyer, no money.” In other words, they count on being able to outmaneuver the consumer who hasn’t retained a Lemon Law attorney. While Georgia Lemon Law requires consumers to participate in BBB Auto Line dispute resolution processes (if the manufacturer is a participant in the program) or state-operated arbitration, you’ll only be on equal footing if you have an advocate at your side. A lemon lawyer can present your case to the arbitrator or go to court and can call and question witnesses. His or her expertise enables your attorney to easily dispute the manufacturer’s testimony.
But perhaps the most important reason to hire a Lemon Law lawyer is that it sends a clear signal to the manufacturer that you are serious about your claim, and are willing to sue them in order to get justice. Vehicle manufacturers have powerful legal teams that are adept at avoiding or stalling Lemon Law claims, and often only obey the law when they’re faced with the threat of a lawsuit by Lemon Law experts. When they are, they usually settle very quickly, since they know that the cost of going to court will be much higher. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to have an advocate who knows the law and works on your behalf.
Keep in mind that, if you go to court, you shouldn’t have to pay a lemon lawyer to handle your Lemon Law case. That’s because the law says that the manufacturer is responsible for paying the consumer’s attorney’s fees in successful Lemon Law claims.
What Happens When You Hire a Lemon Law Lawyer?
A good lemon lawyer will work on your behalf to get the compensation to which you’re entitled — typically in the form of a refund, a replacement vehicle, or a cash settlement. Your Lemon Law attorney will ask you for all of your records, such as repair orders and correspondence, that pertain to your lemon. Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of your vehicle’s repair history, then present the manufacturer with a statement outlining your case and demanding full recovery. More often than not, the manufacturer will settle; if not, though, your Lemon Law attorney should be prepared to sue the manufacturer. Your lawyer should be able to resolve your case within one to two months.