Bought a lemon? Be thankful you live in NJ
If you get blindsided by a new car behaving badly, hopefully you purchased that vehicle within New Jersey's borders.
According to new rankings from The Center for Auto Safety, New Jersey has the most effective lemon law in the nation, meaning you'll have an easier time here getting reimbursed for a vehicle with a defect that impairs its use, safety or value.
Based on 10 categories, including how long a vehicle must be out of service before it's presumed a lemon, New Jersey was one of just two states that received an "A" grade.
The Garden State edged Washington by one point with a final tally of 84. On the opposite end, Illinois and Colorado finished with scores below zero.
The state earned above-average scores in nearly all the major categories. New Jersey was highlighted for having the "best basic presumption provision" — a vehicle qualifies for lemon law relief after three repair attempts or 20 calendar days out of service due to a serious defect. But the state's statute allows a consumer to give the vehicle manufacturer a "final chance" repair notice after the second repair attempt.
And in New Jersey, legal representation is designed to be 100 percent cost-free, whether you're successful in a lemon law claim or not.
"People think things are too good to be true; they're not," said Robert Silverman, an attorney with Lemon Law.com. His firm has been handling lemon law cases for New Jersey consumers since 1991.
"Part of your claim is that the manufacturer's got to pay the attorney's fees," Silverman said.
It's Silverman's opinion that New Jersey's lemon law is one of the best, if not the best, in the country.
"It's fast and it's really, really consumer friendly," he said. "New Jersey has a great system for handling lemon law cases, both a state-run arbitration program, as well as civil court with a separate and distinct lemon law portion."
According to Silverman, lemon law cases and breach-of-warranty cases are more common than one may think.
In New Jersey, the lemon law applies to vehicles with nonconformities that occur in the first two years or 24,000 miles.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.