NJ Lemon Law Adds Coverage For Emergency Vehicles

February 26, 2010
By: Robert Silverman

One of the Nation’s strongest State Lemon Laws, The New Jersey Lemon Law, just got even better with the addition of all emergency vehicles, including ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars.

As we have previously reported, this change that came about after Doug Fenichel, a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Flanders, NJ Fire and Rescue Squad, turned his frustration with an undependable ambulance into a legislative campaign.

The new law became effective January 18. It lays out the circumstances under which companies that build and sell emergency vehicles would reimburse an agency or replace the vehicle.

Fenichel started a tenacious fight for the Bill when he found himself treating a cardiac patient in the back of an ambulance that had broken down. Another Flanders ambulance quickly arrived to transport the patient.

When he investigated why the ambulance broke down, he learned that the ambulance  had quite a repair history. Although the unit was purchased in August, a number of problems, including engine issues, caused it to stay in the shop until November. The truck had been to Ford dealers for the same engine problem several times.

He wanted the truck replaced and when Fenichel saw that the NJ Lemon Law did not cover his predicament, he sought help from local legislators. He also contacted Kimmel & Silverman NJ Lemon Law Lawyers Bob Silverman & Amy Bennecoff to seek their guidance and expertise.

“I’ve worked around the legislative process since college, when I was a legislative aide,” said Fenichel in an interview with the trade publication Fire Engineering. “I knew this merited attention and was a law that needed updating.”

Fenichel called the 24th District legislative district  and legislation was introduced in October 2008 to include emergency vehicles under those vehicles covered by the NJ Lemon Law . A bill in the State Senate was sponsored by State Sen. Steven Oroho, R-24, and Sen. Barbara Buono, D-18, while Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, R-24, Assemblywoman Alison Littel McHose, R-24, and Assemblyman Jack Connors, D-7, introduced the companion proposal in the Assembly.

While the legislators and their staffs shepherded the proposed laws through the process, Fenichel launched a campaign to generate support for the bills. He created a blog, www.njemergencylemons.wordpress.com, and began using other social networking channels to spread the word about the proposals. His volunteer fire company and the local hospital system for which he worked encouraged his efforts.

Using more traditional tactics, he also reached out to a variety of organizations in the state. Eventually, the legislation won the support of the state EMS Council, the New Jersey First Aid Council, the League of Municipalities, and individual fire and EMS companies across New Jersey.

He faced several opponents on the manufacturers side who were concerned with being held responsible for components which they didn’t produce, and he worked tirelessly on changing the language to ensure all parties were reasonably satisfied.  Now, the Bill has become a reality.

Named the second most effective Lemon Law in the Country by the Center for Auto Safety, The New Jersey Lemon Law applies to vehicles that suffer a significant non-conformity during the first 24,000 miles or two years which cannot be fixed despite three or more repair attempts. The law also applies if the vehicle is out of service for repairs for more than 20 days or if the problem is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.  Maximum remedy under the law calls for the vehicle to be replaced or a refund made.

1-800 LEMON LAW congratulates Doug on his awesome victory.

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