Lemon Law in Louisiana
Buying a new car can be an exciting experience. Maybe you're trading in the clunker your grandparents gave you when you first obtained your license, or maybe you're finally getting rid of that gas guzzler. Either way, you're ready to cruise the streets in your new ride.
However, buying a new car can also be a hassle―if you happen to buy a lemon.
What Is a Lousiana "Lemon" Vehicle?
In Louisiana, the Attorney General defines a lemon to be a new vehicle that has a defect that is significant enough to severely impair its use or market value.
Your vehicle is considered a lemon if:
- It has undergone repairs with at least 4 attempts to repair the same issue within 1 year of the original vehicle delivery (or during the warranty period).
- It has been out of service for at least 45 days during the same period.
Vehicles covered under the Louisiana Lemon Law include:
- Passenger motor vehicles sold in Louisiana.
- Passenger and commercial motor vehicles sold in Louisiana.
- Personal watercrafts (PWCs) and ATVs sold or still under warranty on or after August 15, 1999.
- Drive train and chassis of a motor home that is used for personal and not commercial uses still under warranty on or after August 15, 1999, or sold in Louisiana.
Vehicles not covered under the Lemon Law include:
- Newly-leased vehicles.
- Demonstrator vehicles.
- Mobile homes.
Filing a Lemon Law Claim
If your vehicle is a lemon, you must first work with the manufacturer through the free mediation and/or arbitration procedures. Make sure to keep all receipts dealing with vehicle repairs and maintenance. You'll need to present this information during the arbitration procedures.
Under the Louisiana Lemon Law, the vehicle's manufacturer or the authorized dealer must either repair or replace the vehicle.
After the manufacturer or dealer has made 4 attempts to repair the vehicle, or the vehicle has been inoperable for 45 days due to repairs, the vehicle must be replaced or refunded. The problem must be resolved within 10 business days.
While the vehicle is being repaired, the purchaser may choose to rent another vehicle. If so, the manufacturer must reimburse the purchaser up to $20 daily, as long as the vehicle is still covered under the expressed warranty and the repair is to a nonconformity covered in the warranty.
Mediation and Arbitration
In a mediation session the manufacturer will attempt to satisfy you by trying to reach a settlement.
If you are unable to come to an agreement, both parties will proceed to the next step called arbitration.
During arbitration, an impartial third party will facilitate the process and then make a decision without involving any lawyers.
To prepare for your arbitration procedure, you should keep ALL correspondence from the dealer or manufacturer, including:
- Receipts for car maintenance/repairs.
- Letters from mechanics.
- Any additional maintenance records for the vehicle in question.
If neither mediation or arbitration work, consider filing a lemon lawsuit to recover your costs.
Hiring a Louisiana Lemon Law Attorney
If no settlement or satisfaction can be reached, you'll probably want to seek the aid of an attorney who specializes in the Louisiana Lemon Law. The Better Business Bureau offers a Lemon Law complaint form to utilize as well.
When looking for an attorney in Louisiana, be sure to find one with lemon law experience. During your interview, be sure to check the attorney's:
- Knowledge of the lemon law.
- Track record, education, and experience.
- Fee structure.
Finally, trust your gut. You want to find a lawyer you'll feel comfortable with to represent you.
Advantages of Hiring an Attorney
Benefits of hiring a lemon law law attorney include:
- Comprehensive legal knowledge—An experienced attorney will really understand the lemon law.
- Experience—An attorney that has dealt with lemon cases in the past will be better equipped to handle yours.
- Negotiating power—Having an attorney can help you compel the manufacturer to comply.
- Trusted advice—Your attorney can provide on the best ways to move forward.