NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW GUIDE
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The New Jersey lemon law allows a consumer to obtain a repurchase of a defective vehicle. Here is an overview of the requirements.
1. Number of Repairs A consumer must meet these requirements
A) Initial repairs
1) two or more repairs of the same problem or condition before 18,000 miles, or
2) vehicle out of service for more than 20 days,
B) Sending of a last chance letter identifying the problem before 18,000 miles , and the manufacturer's failure to correct the problem.
These are the requirements to proceed with the New Jersey lemon law administrative process. A consumer may proceed other laws such as breach of warranty, even if the car has a greater number of miles, the letter was not sent, or the problem has been corrected.
2. Seriousness The problem must substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. New Jersey adminsitrative courts have been particularly tough on consumers with this requirements, finding various noises, vibrations, and other problems insufficient serious to warranty a repurchase. For that reason, our office frequently files claims in court where a jury may adjudge the problem, mediation procedures may secure a settlement, and other claims can be combined with the lemon law.
3 Damages Permitted The statute speaks of a repurchase. Other damages are not allowed such as loss of time from work, punitive damages, or mental injury. A consumer may choose to file a claim under other laws to assert those types of claims.
4. Mileage Offset There is an offset for miles to the last chance repair. The formula is purchase price x mileage over 12,000 divided by 100,000. Note that in a settlement, consumers may agree to a different formula to resolve the matter.
5. Presumption While the statute talks of a presumption, frequently that means little and the consumer has the burden of proof to show the necessary number of repairs and the seriousness of the problem.
6. Forum A consumer may file in the administrative law court in superior court or special civil part.
Typical Manufacturer Defenses Under the New Jersey Lemon Law
Consumers do not win every case and skillful manufacturers may succeed with various defenses. Manufacturers representatives may handle lemon law defenses on an ongoing basis perhaps dealing with 40 to 50 cases per year, and an experienced representative familiar with the workings and specifications of the vehicle may be quite skillful in minimizing a problem and defeating a claim. Here are some typical defense.
1. Not the Same problem Manufacturer sometimes present technical arguments suggesting there are two or more conditions present on a series of repairs, rather than the same problem occurring 4 times.
2. The Problem has been Corrected There has been ongoing discussion about whether a claim can be presented if the problem was corrected. Manufacturer sometimes argue the problem has been or occasionally can be corrected.
3. The car is working within specifications. Lemon laws are subjective processes, the claim must be objectively shown. Manufacturers sometimes present detailed specifications, usually unknown to consumers, and explain how the car is working within those, even those a problem is claimed. Frequently the specifications do not encompass the specific problem.
4. Owner abuse or modification As soon as it is learned that the owner put in a radio, did an oil change or changed the vehicle in any way, a manufacturer may attribute subsequent problems to that.
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Law Offices of Howard A. Gutman,
230 Route 206, Flanders, New Jersey 07836
(973) 598-1980, E-mail Howian@aol.com
Fax (973) 598-1982
New Jersey Office
305 Madison Avenue, Suite 449
New York, New Jersey 10165 (212) 886-4838
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lemon law cases (review of important New Jersey lemon law cases)
Lemon law statutes (State by state listing of laws and statutes)
New Jersey Lemon lawunit (information from the New Jersey lemon law unit)
Hearing preparation (checklist for lemon law hearings)
New Jersey lemon law statute (The New Jersey lemon law statute with comments)
New Jersey leasing statute ( New Jersey leasing statute)
New Jersey lemon law guide
New Jersey lemon law decisions
New Jersey lemon law Q & A (questions and answers about the New Jersey lemon law)