New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act – Home Improvement

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Archive for July, 2013

New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act – Home Improvement

If you would like to discuss a potential consumer fraud act case or are currently in the middle of one, contact The Morano Law Firm at 201-598-5019 or newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com today!

The purpose of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (“Act”), N.J.S.A 56:8-1 et seq., is to provide increased protection for consumers. The Act 13provides New Jersey with one of the most consumer friendly consumer protection laws in the United States. Under the Act, individual consumers are allowed to bring a private cause of action against those who violate the Act. To bring a private action under the Act, the consumer must show an ascertainable loss of money or property. Under the Act it may be possible to recover three times the amount of actual financial losses suffered.

New Jersey’s Home Improvement Act was created under the guidance of the Consumer Fraud Act. The Home Improvement Act protects consumers of home improvement services and places certain obligations on the contractor. The New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C) 13:45A-16.1 et seq. addresses the regulations governing Home Improvement Practices. Under the regulations, N.J.A.C. 13:45A-16.1A,

“Home improvement” means the remodeling, altering, painting, repairing, renovating, restoring, moving, demolishing, or modernizing of residential or noncommercial property or the making of additions thereto, and includes, but is not limited to, the construction, installation, replacement, improvement, or repair of driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements and basement waterproofing, fire protection devices, security protection devices, central heating and air conditioning equipment, water softeners, heaters, and purifiers, solar heating or water systems, insulation installation, siding, wall-to-wall carpeting or attached or inlaid floor coverings, and other changes, repairs, or improvements made in or on, attached to or forming a part of the residential or noncommercial property, but does not include the construction of a new residence. The term extends to the conversion of existing commercial structures into residential or noncommercial property and includes any of the above activities performed under emergency conditions.

N.J.A.C 13:45A-16.2 outlines the “acts and practices [used by the contractor] involving the sale, attempted sale, advertisement or performance of home improvements” that are considered unlawful. The unlawful practices are divided into thirteen categories and pertain to

  • Model home representations
  • Product and material representations
  • Bait selling
  • Identity of seller
  • Gift offers
  • Price and financing
  • Performance
  • Competitors
  • Sale representations
  • Building permits
  • Guarantees or warranties
  • Home improvement contract requirements – writing requirement
    • Home improvement contracts for a purchase price of more than $500
    • Disclosures and obligations concerning preservation of buyers’ claims and defenses

The regulations discuss what is considered unlawful under each of these categories in detail. The above is only a very brief outline. It is important for contractors to know and follow these regulations because the cost of noncompliance could potentially be very large. It is also important for consumers to know of these provisions so that consumers can take full advantage of the protection that these regulations provide. Regardless of if you are a contractor or a home improvement consumer the Morano Law Firm may be able to help you. The consumer fraud act can lead to treble damages, so it is a legal issue that can lead to serious consequences. The penalties can be harsh. If you would like to discuss a potential consumer fraud act case or are currently in the middle of one, contact The Morano Law Firm at 201-598-5019 or newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com today!

 

 

 

New Jersey Stop Sign and Yield Sign Laws: How to Avoid Points on Your License

Most New Jersey drivers are aware that failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign can lead to a ticket being issued, but did you know that this violation can also lead to points on your license? Similarly, points can be assigned to your license if you do not observe the rules of a yield 11sign correctly. If you have found yourself facing penalties from failure to observe a stop sign or yield sign, please call me, Corey Morano, Esq. right away at 201-598-5019 or send me an email at coreymorano@gmail.com.

 

Receiving points on a license is a serious repercussion facing those who have been convicted of a moving violation. It is important to understand how New Jersey stop sign and yield sign laws operate in order to avoid this penalty. Never pass through an intersection that is marked with a stop sign unless you come to a complete stop close to the stop line, and always make sure that you observe safe driving habits when deciding to pass or merge with incoming traffic. Slow down when approaching yield signs and ensure that the route is clear when deciding to enter the intersection or when merging onto the next street. Follow instructions from traffic officers and always yield to pedestrians. The full statute outlining these laws in more detail can be found below. If you have already violated one of these conditions and are in need of quality legal representation, then contact the Morano Law Firm today to find out how you can avoid points on your license.

39:4-144. Stopping or yielding right of way before entering stop or yield intersections.

39:4-144. No driver of a vehicle or street car shall enter upon or cross an intersecting street marked with a “stop” sign unless:

a.     The driver has first brought the vehicle or street car to a complete stop at a point within five feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line marked upon the pavement at the near side of the intersecting street and shall proceed only after yielding the right of way to all vehicular traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

b.     No driver of a vehicle or street car shall enter upon or cross an intersecting street marked with a “yield right of way” sign without first slowing to a reasonable speed for existing conditions and visibility, stopping if necessary, and the driver shall yield the right of way to all vehicular traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard; unless, in either case, the driver is otherwise directed to proceed by a traffic or police officer or traffic control signal.

c.     No driver of a vehicle or street car shall turn right at an intersecting street marked with a “stop” sign or “yield right of way” sign unless the driver stops and remains stopped for pedestrians crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk, into which the driver is turning.

Amended 1956, c.107, s.5; 1958, c.114, s.4; 2008, c.9, s.1; 2009, c.319, s.4.

If you have found yourself facing penalties from failure to observe a stop sign or yield sign, please call me, Corey Morano, Esq. right away at 201-598-5019 or send me an email at coreymorano@gmail.com.

Understanding New Jersey Premises Liability

If you or someone you know was injured on another person’s property you may have a premises liability claim. If you are interested in bringing a premises liability claim consult call the Morano Law Firm at 201-598-5019 or email us at newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com.

Premises Liability

Individuals that are injured on another’s property may have a premises liability claim against the landowner. New Jersey courts determine the 11duty of care of a landowner based on the totality of the circumstances. To determine if a landowner has a duty of care and is liable for the injury four factors are looked at:

  1. The relationship of the parties;
  2. The nature of the attendant risk;
  3. The opportunity and the ability to exercise care; and
  4. The public interest in the proposed solution

1-2 LexisNexis Practice Guide NJ Personal Injury § 2.27

When determining the liability of the landowner for injuries sustained on their property, of the four factors, the primary factor that courts look at is the relationship of the parties, that is, the injured person’s status on the property. The person’s status is classified as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Landowner’s owe different duties of care to individuals on their property depending on the individual’s status.

Status of Party

Invitees are people that are invited, either explicitly or implicitly, by the landowner as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. An example of an invitee would be a customer in a store.

Licensees are also people that have permission from the landowner to be on the property, but licensees do not include the people that are there to convey only economic benefits on the landowner. Licensees tend to be social guests.

Trespassers are people that are on the property without the landowner’s permission.

Duty Owed

Landowners owe invitees a general duty of reasonable care, meaning that the landowner has to protect an invitee from injuries caused by conditions that the landowner knows, or through reasonable care should have known involve an unreasonable risk of harm.

Licensees are owed a lesser a duty of care than invitees. Landowners have to warn licensees of nonobvious dangers that the landowner knows about, in other words, the landowner only has to use reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm.

Although trespassers are on the property without permission from the landowner they are still owed a limited duty of care. In general, the landowner only has to warn trespassers of known artificial conditions on the property that create a risk of death or serious bodily harm. Landowners may be liable to trespassers for injuries caused by an artificial condition on the land if:

  • The landowner is aware that trespassers go onto the land;
  • The landowner does not use reasonable care to warn trespassers of the condition and the risk involved; and
  • The condition is
    • One that the landowner created or maintains;
    • The landowner knows is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to such trespassers; and
    • Of such a nature that the landowner has reason to believe that such trespassers will not discover it

1-2 LexisNexis Practice Guide NJ Personal Injury § 2.27

Thus, if you or someone you know was injured on another person’s property you may have a premises liability claim. If you are interested in bringing a premises liability claim consult with the Morano Law Firm.

Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance in New Jersey (Statute 39:6B-2)

The penalties under New Jersey law for driving without auto insurance are severe, approaching those levied for DUI convictions. The monetary fine can be set anywhere from $300 to $1000, there is a mandatory one year license suspension, and community service is ordered as determined by the court. This year-long suspension can seem particularly harsh, given the relative leniency of other states in this regard (Connecticut has a 6 month suspension, Pennsylvania has 3 months, and Massachusetts has only 60 days). The penalties for a second conviction include 14 days of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5000, and 2 years of license suspension.

That year-long suspension can seem Draconian, especially since a DUI conviction (of BAC greater than .08% but less than .1%) carries a suspension of only 3 months. Remember, though, that the law requiring all cars to be insured is a matter of public safety. Even if you are a flawless driver, not everyone else is. If you let your insurance lapse and someone else hits you, it will be very difficult to be able to get the compensation you need to pay for damage to your vehicle or medical bills.

The court does not have to prove that a driver knowingly operated a motor vehicle without insurance: it is enough that the driver “should know from the attendant circumstances” that the vehicle has no liability coverage. An affirmative defense against this charge would be to provide documentation in court that the vehicle did actually have liability coverage at the time of the ticket.

If you believe you have been ticketed for driving without insurance in error or you need legal representation for this offense, don’t delay: seek legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights and mount a defense against these penalties! Contact The Morano Law Firm at 201-598-5019 or newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com today!

Penalties for Talking or Texting While Driving in New Jersey

Today it is common to see more people using their smartphones while driving in New Jersey.  This trend has led to an increase in traffic accidents and an amplified effort by law enforcement to target people talking or texting while driving. Simultaneously, the New Jersey KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALegislature has proceeded recently to enact harsher penalties for violating these laws. With the threat of high fines and possible license suspensions, it is important that you are informed about what you can do to minimize legal ramifications if you or anyone you know becomes involved in a situation like this. Contact Corey Morano, Esq. at 201-598-5019 or email coreymorano@gmail.com today to set up a free consultation.

Distracted driving has led to many accidents and legal trouble for individuals, so understanding exactly how it is defined can help you to avoid these circumstances. Taking your eyes off the road to use your phone is unlawful and can lead to fines for first offenders and points or license suspensions for repeat offenders. Exceptions to this law include using hands-free calling systems, using your cell phone in a situation where your life is being threatened, or when you are calling authorities to report an emergency. The statute can be found below.

 

39:4-97.3. Use of wireless telephone, electronic communication device in moving vehicle; definitions; enforcement.

1. a. The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway shall be unlawful except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone or the electronic communication device is used hands-free, provided that its placement does not interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment and the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an “electronic communication device” shall not include an amateur radio.

Nothing in P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3 et seq.) shall apply to the use of a citizen’s band radio or two-way radio by an operator of a moving commercial motor vehicle or authorized emergency vehicle on a public road or highway.

b.     The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand-held wireless telephone while driving with one hand on the steering wheel only if:

(1)     The operator has reason to fear for his life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against himself or another person; or

(2)     The operator is using the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency, or to report the operator of another motor vehicle who is driving in a reckless, careless or otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A hand-held wireless telephone user’s telephone records or the testimony or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such calls shall be deemed sufficient evidence of the existence of all lawful calls made under this paragraph.

As used in this act:

“Citizen’s band radio” means a mobile communication device designed to allow for the transmission and receipt of radio communications on frequencies allocated for citizen’s band radio service use.

“Hands-free wireless telephone” means a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a conversation without the use of either hand; provided, however, this definition shall not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the telephone.

“Two-way radio” means two-way communications equipment that uses VHF frequencies approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

“Use” of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device shall include, but not be limited to, talking or listening to another person on the telephone, text messaging, or sending an electronic message via the wireless telephone or electronic communication device.

c.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.198).

d.     A person who violates this section shall be fined $100.

e.     No motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points pursuant to section 26 of P.L.1990, c.8 (C.17:33B-14) shall be assessed for this offense.

f.     The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission shall develop and undertake a program to notify and inform the public as to the provisions of this act.

g.     Whenever this section is used as an alternative offense in a plea agreement to any other offense in Title 39 of the Revised Statutes that would result in the assessment of motor vehicle points, the penalty shall be the same as the penalty for a violation of section 1 of P.L.2000, c.75 (C.39:4-97.2), including the surcharge imposed pursuant to subsection f. of that section, and a conviction under this section shall be considered a conviction under section 1 of P.L.2000, c.75 (C.39:4-97.2) for the purpose of determining subsequent enhanced penalties under that section.

If you or someone you know needs more information on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me, Corey Morano, Esq. today for a free consultation at 201-598-5019 or coreymorano@gmail.com.

Searches Conducted Without A Warrant in New Jersey

iStock_000001321767_SmallThe Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. It requires that warrants must be based on probable cause and describe with particular specificity “the particular place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” New Jersey has a similar provision in its constitution. Article 1, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution states

 

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the papers and things to be seized.”

 

This provision in the New Jersey Constitution uses essentially the same language as the Fourth Amendment however; this New Jersey provision arguably affords even greater protection. If the searched party believes that the search conducted was unlawful under New Jersey Rule 3:5-7, a motion to suppress the evidence taken from that search can be made. The presumption is generally that warrantless searches are unreasonable, however there are exceptions. When looking at a specific search and seizure the main factor in determining its validity is reasonableness. If the search was conducted without a warrant the prosecutor will usually have to show that more likely than not one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applies in the case. Exceptions to the warrant requirement include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Consent of the party being searched
  • Plain view of the evidence
  • Search of the area outside of the land immediately surrounding the owner’s property
  • Exigent circumstances
  • Motor vehicles
  • Search incident to arrest

 

There are other exceptions to the warrant requirement and the exceptions listed above have specific requirements of their own so it is important to consult with an attorney if you believe that you were searched unlawfully.

If you require the assistance of a criminal attorney, please call The Morano Law Firm, LLC at 201-598-5019 today for a free consultation or email us at newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com.

New Jersey Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws: What You Need to Know a Ticket for Failure to Yield to Pedestrian

Most of us encounter crosswalks in New Jersey every day, whether we are behind the wheel or walking to our destination. Understanding the proper procedure to follow when approaching a crosswalk is highly important because confusion between the driver and the pedestrian can lead to injuries and legal repercussions resulting from an accident. A ticket for N.J.S. 39:4-36 can be a serious moving violation.

Police departments all across New Jersey are showing an increased interest in cracking down on crosswalk violations. Both jaywalkers and drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at a crosswalk are being targeted by law enforcement in order to better protect the lives of New Jersey residents. By understanding the correct procedures, you can help yourself to avoid becoming entangled in these situations.  If you have been involved in a crosswalk violation, whether as a driver, a jaywalker, or a victim, please do not hesitate to contact Corey Morano, Esq. for a free consultation at 201-598-5019 or by email at newjerseylawyernow@gmail.com today!

Getting a ticket for Failure to Yield to Pedestrian can be a serious ticket and two points on your license. The full law can be found in the statute below.

39:4-36. Driver to yield to pedestrians, exceptions; violations, penalties.

 

39:4-36. a. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at crosswalks when the movement of traffic is being regulated by police officers or traffic control signals, or where otherwise regulated by municipal, county, or State regulation, and except where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided:

 

(1)     The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a marked crosswalk, when the pedestrian is upon, or within one lane of, the half of the roadway, upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. As used in this paragraph, “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes conveying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

 

(2)     No pedestrian shall leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield or stop.

 

(3)     Whenever any vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

 

(4)     Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

 

(5)     Nothing contained herein shall relieve a driver from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway. Nothing contained herein shall relieve a pedestrian from using due care for his safety.

 

b.     A person violating any paragraph of subsection a. of this section shall, upon conviction thereof, pay a fine to be imposed by the court in the amount of $200. The court may also impose upon a person violating any paragraph of subsection a. of this section, a penalty of community service not to exceed 15 days in such form and on such terms as the court shall deem appropriate. If the violation results in serious bodily injury to a pedestrian, the person convicted of the violation shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500, and may additionally be subject to a sentence of imprisonment not to exceed 25 days, or a license suspension not to exceed six months, or both, in the discretion of the court. As used in this section, “serious bodily injury” means serious bodily injury as defined in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-1.

 

c.     Of each fine imposed and collected pursuant to subsection b. of this section, $100 shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer who shall annually deposit the moneys into the “Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund” created by section 1 of P.L.2005, c.84 (C.39:4-36.2).

 

d.     In the event of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, there shall be a permissive inference that the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian.

 

Call me at 201-598-5019 or email me at coreymorano@gmail.com today for a free consultation and learn how I can help you with any questions you may have.