Breach of Warranty Cars and Boats. Do I have a case?

Owning a boat can be the most rewarding BUT expensive experience of your entire life.

Consumer boat litigation, whether it is personal injury or breach of warranty, is a complicated litigation. Frequently, boats that are purchased by consumers are both very expensive and very complicated in the context of the issuance of warranties and the manufacturers of the boat. Those boat owners are aware that there are separate warranties for various portions of the boat including the whole, electronics, engines and other interior appliances on the boat. Therefore, any problems with boats become difficult for litigation since there are overlapping warranties, personal injury issues and negligence issues. When analyzing any issue with your boat, it is important to acquire each and every warranty as well as your contract for purchase and identify all relevant parties selling the boat, distributing the boat and manufacturing the boat and its relevant sections. Therefore, before any initial consultation, it is important to acquire the separate warranties on each particular portion of the boat, piece of equipment or appliance. Then, it is necessary to read the specific portion of the warranty to determine the nature and extent of the warranty in the claim provisions. Frequently, the manufacturer, supplier or seller of boats vary the warranty provisions which come with the boat. Sometimes, the statute of limitation is shortened for the time of filing an action, sometimes there are limitations on types of damages and sometimes there are forum selection clauses. In essence, the issue of boat litigation is a complex one needing an experienced attorney. It is important to aggregate the specific issues, the specific warranties and the consumer complaints with regard to each particular portion of the boat.

This does not cancel the consumer fraud aspects in each transaction. It is not uncommon that boats have various problems that were known or should have been known to the seller of the boat. Then there are issues with the servicing or the docking of a boat in the local marina. There are a host of issues which make owning a boat a significant legal headache for the owner of the boat and the need for experienced legal representation is parallel. Many boat owners bemoan the continued expenses on their beloved boat.

Almost all of the consumer laws that apply to car owners apply to boat purchasers, such as the breach of warranty laws and the consumer fraud law. In fact, there is significantly more regulation on boats at the Federal level.

Boat owners have the same complaint that car owners have regarding the repair of their boat, with the marinas in which they are docked and less-than-honest boat repairmen.

There are a host of tickets that can be issued to boat owners as if they were driving a car.

The same breaches of warranty laws that apply to cars apply to boats, but there is not a lemon law for new boats or used boats; there is a general breach of warranty law for boats. The boat and the engines must work as promised according to the specific warranty. If there is an express-written-warranty and the boat cannot be fixed as promised you can sue for damages. You can sue for breach of warranty and if it takes them too long to fix the boat you can sue for damages. You can recover attorney's fees under certain circumstances with the cost of the lawsuit.

Key Questions

  1. Is there a warranty, written or implied?
  2. What does it cover?
  3. Can the boat be fixed in a reasonable time?
  4. What are your damages slip rental, boat payments, etc.?
  5. The consumer fraud laws apply to the sale and servicing of boats.
  6. Servicing: All the rules that apply to car salesman apply to boat repairs.
  7. Consumer fraud in boat repairs:
    • No signed authorization for repairs;
    • Charging more than the promised amount or higher than the written estimate;
    • Not advising if a new engine is rebuilt or new.

      Failure to comply with any of these regulations creates a per se violation of the consumer fraud act.

      New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

      The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is one of the most powerful laws in the country for consumers. It provides for triple damages and attorney fees if successful litigation is started and completed. The statute is remedial and is to be liberally interpreted in favor of consumers.

      Under what circumstances can you sue?

    • If the seller lies about a material fact (e.g., tells you the boat never sunk);
    • If the seller omits an important fact (e.g., never tells you the boat sunk);
    • If the seller engages in deceptive conduct (e.g., pays off the surveyor).