Connecticut Lemon Law
An Overview of the Connecticut Lemon Law
In 1982, the State of Connecticut made national headlines when the legislature passed the nation’s first “Lemon Law.” The Lemon Law, which is a nickname for a group of statutes known as the “Automotive Warranties,” gives new vehicle purchasers and lessees the right to make a claim to the Department of Consumer Protection when their new vehicles are defective and fail to conform to a manufacturer’s express warranties. The Department of Consumer Protection ultimately determines whether or not the purchaser or lessee is entitled to some sort of full or partial refund when it is shown that the new vehicle is in a defective condition.
Only certain consumers can take advantage of the Lemon Law. For example, the law only applies to new vehicles (including passenger vehicles, combination passenger and commercial vehicles, and motorcycles) which do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty. Thus, the law does not apply to old vehicles, or to vehicles that have defects which are not covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty. In addition, it does not apply where the consumer’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle has resulted in the defective condition.
Consumers who are eligible to make a claim under the Lemon Law will only win if they can prove certain facts to the Department of Consumer Protection. First, the consumer must show that his or her new car does not comply with all of the manufacturer’s express warranties. Second, the consumer must show that the alleged defects have been reported to the manufacturer or an authorized dealer within a reasonable time period (usually within two years of the purchase date or before the car reaches 24,000 miles, whichever comes first). Third, the consumer must show that the vehicle’s defects substantially impair the use, safety or value of the motor vehicle. Finally, the consumer must demonstrate that the manufacturer or dealer has made several unsuccessful attempts to repair the vehicle. All of these facts can be shown through oral testimony and documentary proof which are submitted in front of a Department of Consumer Protection representative at a formal hearing.
Consumers who intend to make a claim under the Lemon Law should immediately contact the manufacturer or dealer of their vehicle for additional information if, and when, a problem arises. Some manufacturers, for example, have their own arbitration programs designed at resolving vehicle defect claims. Under the Lemon Law, consumers are generally required to first exhaust their remedies through such manufacturer-sponsored programs before they are eligible to file anything with the Department of Consumer Protection.
In addition, consumers who intend to file a claim under the Lemon Law must pay a filing fee and submit an application to the Department of Consumer Protection. All relevant application materials can be found at the Department’s website: www.ct.gov/dcp. The website also contains links to several helpful informational booklets and materials which have been published by the Department of Consumer Protection to assist consumers.
There is no requirement to be represented by an attorney when making a claim under the Lemon Law. However, an attorney can help consumers present their claims in a clearer, more effective manner. If you have any questions about the Lemon Law, or if you intend to file a claim under it, Mahon, Quinn & Mahon, P.C. can assist you with all of your legal needs.
This Newsbrief is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. As always, please contact the lawyers at Mahon, Quinn & Mahon for specific questions and concerns.
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