The Connecticut Lemon Law
The Connecticut lemon law applies to any defective motor vehicles purchased or leased in Connecticut.
Does the CT Lemon Law Cover My Vehicle?
If the defect substantially reduces the market value of your vehicle, or substantially impairs the safety or your use of the vehicle, it can be considered a lemon. At least four repair attempts must have been made to repair the defect, and they must have been made during the protection period. This period is 24 months, or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The problem must continue or recur after the four attempts. However, the lemon law in Connecticut allows you to prove your case with fewer than four repair attempts.
Alternatively, if your vehicle has been out of service (in for repairs) for 30 or more days for one or more problems, you're eligible for compensation. If the problem is a safety defect that could cause serious injury or death, and the defect continues after two or more repair attempts, you have a lemon.
I Think I Have a CT Lemon! What Do I Do Now?
Be sure you have the work invoices for every repair attempt, whether you paid for the repair or it was covered by warranty. Each should have the date, the make and model, what was wrong and what was done to attempt the repair, parts used, costs, etc. Photocopy all your notes and all the work invoices.
Write to the manufacturer, reporting the problem and letting them know that you consider your vehicle to be a lemon. Include copies of your notes and invoices. Remember to photocopy your letter, keeping a copy for your records. Send the letter by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.
Then print out this Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection's Arbitration Program form (right-click to download the PDF), complete it and return it to the department by mail with the required $50 fee. Include a copy of the letter you sent to the manufacturer. If you don't send all the required documentation and forms, the department will return your application.
You can request an oral hearing, which tends to offer faster decisions, or a documentary hearing, where you and the manufacturer submit sworn statements to the department. The decision in a documentary hearing is based solely on the documents you and the manufacturer provide to the arbitrators.
If you lease your vehicle, you must notify the leasing company of your lemon law claim. If the company wishes to be part of the proceedings, it must notify the department of its intent within ten days of their receipt of your letter. You must also send this letter by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. And you must include a copy of the letter and the postal receipt with your application to the department.
The department will review your application, and you will be notified within five business days about the findings. If they determine that your case does not qualify for the arbitration program, your fee will be returned to you. You will also receive an explanation about the denial of your claim. If you don't agree with the denial, you can file a written appeal.
If your case does qualify, the department then notifies the manufacturer and asks them to submit a manufacturer's statement, along with a filing fee. The department then sets up the arbitration panel, consisting of an arbitrator and an Automotive Technical Expert.
The panel makes the final determination regarding your case. They can deem it ineligible for Connecticut lemon law compensation, even if it was deemed eligible by the department.
The Department of Consumer Protection's lemon law page outlines what you need to bring and what you need to do to prepare for the hearing. See All About the Lemon Law Program for the details, beginning with "Oral Hearing."
Important note: The arbitrators' decision is almost always final. You cannot appeal the case to the courts. So be very clear before filing your arbitration forms that you want to use the state process. Your option is to use a dispute resolution system from the manufacturer or a third-party (such as the Better Business Bureau). You may want to consider discussing your options with a lemon law attorney.
Replacement or Refund. Which Should I Choose?
If you really like the make and model of your lemon, ask for a replacement. If you want to trade up or down, or want the cash (minus a deduction for your use of the vehicle), take the refund. It may also include reimbursement for other damages and costs, if you have the receipts to prove these expenses.
Should I Use a Lemon Law Attorney
Use of a lemon law attorney is optional. Most people claiming compensation via the lemon law in Connecticut do so without a lawyer. If a lemon law lawyer will present your case, you need to notify the department at least two days prior to your hearing.
Connecticut Lemon Law Summary
The CT lemon law process is one of the more onerous of the 50 state lemon laws. The system is run almost entirely by the state government, requiring fee payments and deadlines to meet.
Be fairly certain that you have a case before initiating a claim, and be very meticulous in the preparation for your hearing, or you could spend days or weeks of your time and receive no compensation in the end.
NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.
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