Is Your Car a Lemon?
In 1984 the Louisiana Legislature enacted Louisiana’s “Lemon Law.” This law is located in Louisiana Revised Statutes § 51:1941 et. seq.
Under this law, a consumer who purchases or leases a new motor vehicle for personal, family or household purposes has certain remedies against the manufacturer and seller of the automobile if the vehicle does not conform to an applicable express warranty.
To benefit from this law, you must:
- Report the nonconformity to the manufacturer or any of its authorized motor vehicle dealers;
- Make the motor vehicle available for repair before the expiration of the warranty or during a period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle to you, whichever is the earlier date.
The manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to the warranty.
If after four or more attempts within the express warranty term or during a period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle to you, whichever is earlier, the nonconformity has not been repaired or if the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of 30 or more calendar days during the warranty period, the manufacturer shall do one of two things:
- Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable new motor vehicle, or, at its option;
- Accept return of the motor vehicle and refund the full purchase price plus any amounts paid by the consumer at the point of sale, and all collateral costs less a reasonable allowance for use.
Reasonable Allowance For Use
According to the statute, a reasonable allowance for use shall be that directly attributable to use by the consumer prior to the first notice of nonconformity to the manufacturer, agent or dealer and during any subsequent period when the vehicle is not out of service by reason of repair.
Manufacturer’s Refusal to Replace or Refund
If the manufacturer refuses to replace the vehicle or refund the money, first determine if the manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure. If so, you must follow that procedure before the Lemon Law will apply.
If you must file suit in order to force the manufacturer to comply with the provisions of the Lemon Law, then suit must be filed within three years of the date you purchased the vehicle or within one year from the end of the warranty period, whichever is longer.
Consult your attorney to be sure you do not waive any of your rights.
Attorney’s Fees Entitlement
The statute provides that, if you comply with the requirements of the Lemon Law and you are successful, you are entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees actually incurred.
Time Limit for New Vehicle or Refund
If you win the case, you must return the nonconforming vehicle and the certificate of title to the manufacturer, who then has 30 days to replace the vehicle or refund your money.
If you win after a decision by the informal dispute settlement procedure, the manufacturer has 30 days after the decision to replace or refund.
Always consult an attorney to make certain of your particular rights and remedies under the law.