- DOES THE NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW APPLY TO ALL VEHICLES?
- AGAINST WHOM DO I PROVE MY LEMON CASE?
- WHAT IS A BURDEN OF PROOF?
- WHAT DOES PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE MEAN?
- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CIRCUMSTANTIAL AND DIRECT EVIDENCE?
- HOW DO I MEET THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO PROVE A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
- HOW DO I PROVE A SUBSTANTIAL IMPAIRMENT IN A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
- USING THE LEMON PRESUMPTION TO HELP PROVE A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE
- WHAT ARE DEFENSES TO A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
Proving a New Jersey Lemon Law case may look easy at first but there are many important things to consider when trying to prove your lemon case. This article only discusses proving New Car Lemon Law cases. The Used Car Lemon Law is an entirely different Law discussed in a separate article located on this website.
DOES THE NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW APPLY TO ALL VEHICLES?
To prove a New Jersey Lemon Law case, you must understand what problems to which the Law applies. The Law does not apply to every defect in an automobile. It is not a guarantee against every defect. It applies to a defect that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a vehicle. The Law applies to cars, trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and motorcycles that are passenger automobiles (automobiles used and designed for the transportation of passengers other than an omnibus or school bus) or motorcycles purchased or leased in New Jersey or registered by the Motor Vehicle Commission. The living facilities of mobile homes are excluded from coverage under the Lemon Law. The Law also applies to authorized emergency vehicles. The person seeking to apply the Lemon Law must be a buyer or lessee, other than for purposes of resale or sublease, of such car, truck, SUV, recreational vehicle and motorcycle or a person to whom the vehicle was transferred during the duration of a warranty applicable to the vehicle or any other person entitled by the warranty’s terms to enforce the warranty’s obligations.
AGAINST WHOM DO I PROVE MY LEMON CASE?
You prove your Lemon case against those engaged in the business of manufacturing, assembling or distributing car, truck, SUV, recreational vehicle and motorcycles, who will, under normal business conditions during the year, manufacture, assemble or distribute to dealers at least 10 new car, truck, SUV, recreational vehicle and motorcycles. Car dealers are not responsible for new car defects under the Lemon Law.
WHAT IS A BURDEN OF PROOF?
To prove a New Jersey Lemon Law case, you must understand the term “burden of proof”. The burden of proof is on the lemon law plaintiff to establish his/her/their claim by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, if a person makes an allegation that a car is a lemon, then that person must prove the allegation.
WHAT DOES PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE MEAN?
The term "preponderance of the evidence" means that amount of evidence that causes you to conclude that the allegation is probably true. To prove an allegation by the preponderance of the evidence, a party must convince you that the allegation is more likely true than not true. If the evidence on a particular issue is equally balanced, that issue has not been proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, the party having the burden of proving that issue has failed with respect to that particular issue.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CIRCUMSTANTIAL AND DIRECT EVIDENCE?
Evidence may be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct proof of a fact, such as the testimony of an eyewitness. Circumstantial evidence (sometimes called inferences) consists of a chain of circumstances pointing to the existence of certain facts. Circumstantial evidence is based upon deductions or logical conclusions that you reach from the direct evidence. For example, if a witness testified that he/she observed snow falling last night, that would be an example of direct evidence. On the other hand, if a witness testified that there was no snow on the ground before going to sleep and that when he/she arose in the morning the ground was snow covered, you could infer from these facts that it snowed during the night. That would be an example of circumstantial evidence. A court may consider both direct and circumstantial evidence in deciding a lemon law case. The law permits the court to give equal weight to both, but it is for the court to decide how much weight to give to any evidence. When deciding a lemon law case, the court is permitted to draw inferences from the evidence. Inferences are deductions or logical conclusions drawn from the evidence. The court uses logic, collective common knowledge and common sense when determining what inferences can be made from the evidence.
HOW DO I MEET THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO PROVE A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
To prove a New Jersey Lemon Law case, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the credible evidence each of the following five elements of the claim. The elements are: 1. The plaintiff purchased/leased a vehicle manufactured by the manufacturer. 2. The vehicle had nonconformity or nonconformities that is/are, a defect or defects that substantially impaired the use, value or safety of the vehicle. 3.The non-conformity occurred during the first 18,000 miles of use, or within two years after the date of original delivery to plaintiff, whichever is earlier. 4.The plaintiff reported the non-conformity to the manufacturer or its dealer during the first 18,000 miles of use, or during the period of two years following the date of original delivery to the plaintiff, whichever is earlier. 5. The manufacturer, through its authorized dealers, did not repair the non-conformity or non-conformities within a reasonable time.
HOW DO I PROVE A SUBSTANTIAL IMPAIRMENT IN A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
To prove a New Jersey Lemon Law case, you must prove that you experienced a problem with a vehicle that substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value or safety. To substantially impair, the defect or condition must impair the use, value or safety in an important, essential or significant way. “Substantial” does not mean a defect, impairment or condition that is minor, trivial or unimportant. In determining whether a defect or condition substantially impairs the use or value of the vehicle, you can consider whether the defects or conditions have shaken the plaintiff’s confidence in the vehicle. If the defect has shaken the plaintiff’s confidence in the vehicle, this loss of confidence may be the basis for you to find that the defect has impaired the vehicle’s use or value. The court must consider this from both a subjective and objective point of view. From a subjective standpoint, the defects must be examined from the point of view of this particular plaintiff. From an objective standpoint, the defects that allegedly have shaken the plaintiff’s confidence must be consistent with what a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would have believed under the same or similar circumstances. For example, in deciding whether a specific defect or condition substantially impairs the use or value of a vehicle, you may consider whether the specific defect or condition complained of, in fact caused the plaintiff to lose confidence in this vehicle. Even if the court finds that the plaintiff’s confidence in the vehicle was shaken, you must also consider whether or not the specific defect or condition, if any, was such that a reasonable person would have lost confidence in the vehicle.
USING THE LEMON PRESUMPTION TO HELP PROVE A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE
It is presumed that a manufacturer or its dealer is unable to repair or correct a non-conformity within a reasonable time if, within the first 18,000 miles of operation, or during the period of 2 years following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date: (a) substantially the same non-conformity has been subject to repair three or more times by the manufacturer, or its dealer, and the nonconformity continued to exist; or the motor vehicle was out of service by reason of repair for one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 20 or more calendar days. (b) since the original delivery of the motor vehicle and nonconformity continues to exist. This presumption, however, shall only apply against the manufacturer, if the manufacturer has received written notification, by or on behalf of the plaintiff, by certified mail, return receipt requested, of a potential claim pursuant to this law and has had one opportunity to repair or correct the defect or condition within 10 calendar days following receipt of the notification. The notification by the plaintiff shall take place any time after the motor vehicle has had substantially the same nonconformity subject to repair two or more times or has been out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of 20 or more calendar days.
WHAT ARE DEFENSES TO A NEW JERSEY LEMON LAW CASE?
To prove a New Jersey Lemon Law case, you should be familiar with the defenses to your Lemon Law case: (1) the alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle; and/or (2) the nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer or its dealer. If the manufacturer proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle and/or that the nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer or its dealer, then the court must find that there is no nonconformity within the meaning of the New Jersey Lemon Law.
TO LEARN MORE, GET A NO OBLIGATION CONSULT
Call Perlman DePetris Consumer Law for a no obligation phone consultation. Handling your case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Try to do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent lawyer! You might be entitled to be represented on a contingent basis, meaning that the attorney won’t get paid unless the case is successful and that the lawyer gets paid from your recovery instead of requiring you to pay attorney’s fees out of your own pocket up front. Other cases can be handled for a relatively small one-time payment of an up-front fixed attorney’s fee and with a contingent fee at the end of the case. Filing a claim yourself is very risky, since businesses often hire experienced defense attorneys to fight your case. Also, if you try to negotiate a settlement yourself, you may get less money than you deserve. You should always speak with an attorney before coming to any conclusions about your claim. Do not try to interpret the law by reading a website! Even if the facts of your case do not fit the requirements of a Lemon Law, you may be entitled to sue the manufacturer or its selling dealer for a breach of your warranties under other state and federal laws. If the manufacturer or selling dealer breached the warranties that came with your vehicle, you may be able to recover money damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.
While this page gives some general background information, there is the danger that relying on this information alone could lead you to lose your claim. Laws and regulations frequently change and the law may have changed since the posting of this webpage. Factual differences between your case and cases described on this webpage can affect your chance of success. Don’t attempt to rely on the internet as the only source of information for your claim! Instead, get competent legal advice from a New Jersey licensed attorney. Call Perlman DePetris Consumer Law for a no obligation phone consultation.