Did you put the wrong fuel in your foreign rental car?
Misfuelling commonly occurs when travelers are enjoying themselves on a worry free vacation. In 2014, over 150,000 people misfuelled a vehicle in the UK.  I have read stories about mis-fuelings where the vehicle renter claimed the rental agent told them “the car takes diesel or gas”. . . right. Whatever the reason for misfuelling may be, it is important to take several initial steps to ensure you minimize potential damages to the vehicle. First, get into a safe place – do not attempt to remain with the vehicle on the roadway. Second, call the rental company and get the vehicle towed to a repair facility. Further damage will result from doing anything aside from having the vehicle towed to a repair facility. Do not turn the key and do not start the vehicle. Turning the key will cycle the fuel pump and starting the vehicle will draw the bad fuel through the fuel system and into the engine, compounding the damage.
The damage of misfuelling a vehicle is wide ranging from minimal to catastrophic. At the minimum, the vehicle will be inoperable and will require towing to a repair facility. Repairs range from draining and flushing the fuel system, all the way to total fuel system replacement (fuel line, pumps, injectors), or even total replacement of certain internal engine components. If you rented a newer vehicle, it is very likely that you will be stuck with a $6,000+ bill to repair the vehicle.
Caveat: putting gasoline into a modern diesel vehicle is worse than diesel into a gasoline engine. Putting gasoline in a newer diesel vehicle will invariably result in the replacement of fuel pumps, fuel lines, fuel injectors, fuel filters, sensors, o-rings, etc. Furthermore, putting gasoline in a diesel vehicle is the most common misfuelling (the gasoline pump nozzle will fit into the diesel filler neck, but not the other way around). The potential damages are not limited to the vehicle’s repair. You may be charged for lost income because the rental company did not have that vehicle in service, administrative fees, re-fueling, legal fees, collections, and others. In those exhaustive fine print documents titled “Terms and Conditions”, you will likely find a clause that reads similar to the following:
7.2.2. Refill the Vehicle with the correct type of fuel. If unsuitable fuel is added then you will be responsible for all reasonable expenses incurred by us in the repair of any damage that may be caused to the Vehicle which will be calculated in accordance with the rules described in section 25 (Damage to the Vehicle) below.
Does rental insurance cover misfuelling? What if I purchased the "premium" insurance? Somewhere among the numerous lines of fine print, invariably, rental insurance policies will explicitly exclude coverage for damage related to misfuelling. The rental agency may repair the vehicle at a dealer of its choice (for a substantial premium) and send you the invoice. Interestingly enough, there are relatively cheap devices to prevent misfuelling like this device coined the “Fuel Angel” ( https://www.misfuellingprevention.co.uk/). Despite the reasonable price, I wouldn’t bet seeing this implemented on the vast majority of rental vehicles.
If you have misfuelled a vehicle, call today for a free consultation.
Very truly yours,
Andrew P. Bass, Esq.
New Vehicle Lemon Law
New Vehicle Lemon Law (new and leased cars, motorcycles, vans, trucks) sold by new vehicle dealer.
Under Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 90 § 7N 1/2, purchased and leased vehicles may be eligible for replacement or refund from the manufacturer. Refund or replacement occurs when the manufacturer has failed to cure any non-conformity after a reasonable number of attempts on the earlier of the first year or 15,000 miles. It’s worth notice that vehicles purchased for “business purposes” are excluded from the protections of G.L. c. 90 § 7N 1/2, however, this does not mean that you are not entitled to recover as there are many well established channels for business vehicle recovery.
What is a “non-conformity”?
A non-conformity is a defect, malfunction, or any combination of those that “substantially impairs the use, market value, and/or safety of a motor vehicle.” G.L. c. 90 § 7N 1/2 . The non-conformity must impair the market value of the vehicle by at least 10% of the purchase price.
The Lemon Law gives the manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer a "reasonable number of attempts" to repair the substantial defect. This standard is met if, within the term of protection (1 year or 15,000 miles):
If the dealer has failed to repair the vehicle and has satisfied the above requirements for pursuing legal action under a Lemon law claim, you must provide the dealer (and manufacturer) with notice of such fact and allow seven days for a final chance to repair.
If your claim is valid and pursued properly, you may be entitled to the following:
In April 2015, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act was amended to provide employees with more benefits and greater protection. Below is an overview of employee rights under the amended law.
Employers with six or more employees are required to provide female employees with eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for giving birth, adopting a child under the age of 18 or adopting a child under the age of 23, if the child is mentally or physically disabled. Under the amended Parental Leave law, employees are also provided leave if a child is placed with them pursuant to a court order. Additionally, the law expands leave to the non-birth parent. However, if both parents work for the same employer, they are only entitled to a combined eight weeks of leave for the same child.
The right to take parental leave applies to employees who are eligible. An employee becomes eligible by completing the initial probationary period, which cannot exceed three months. If the employer does not set the terms of such probationary period, an employee who works on a full time basis for three consecutive months is eligible to take parental leave.
An employee must provide at least two weeks notice to their employer of the employee’s anticipated date of departure and their intention to return. Under the amended law, an employee can provide notice “as soon as practicable” if the delay in providing notice is for a reason beyond the employee’s control.
Employees taking parental leave have the option to choose whether to use accrued vacation, sick or other forms of paid time off.
The Parental Leave law maintains the protected nature of parental leave. An employer must restore the employee to his or her previous, or a similar, position with the same skills, pay, length of service credit and seniority as of the date of the leave. In addition, parental leave shall not affect the employee’s right to receive vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length-of-service credit, benefits, plans or programs for which the employee was eligible as of the date of the leave or any other advantages or rights of employment. The period of the parental leave need not be included in the computation of any benefits.
In contrast to the previous law where job protection rights applied only during the first eight weeks of leave, the April 2015 amendments create a presumption that leave exceeding eight weeks is also job-protected. This means that if an employer agrees to provide an employee parental leave for a period longer than the statutorily required eight weeks, the employer may not deny the employee job restoration, unless the employer clearly informs the employee in writing, prior to the commencement of the leave and prior to any subsequent extension of the leave, that a leave longer than eight weeks will result in denial of reinstatement or a loss of other rights and benefits.
Do I Need a Will?
A Will is a written document that outlines how your assets will be distributed upon your death. A Will also enables you to choose a legal guardian for minor children and choose a personal representative to manage your estate throughout the probate process. If you want to control who inherits your assets, who manages your estate and who will care for your minor children if there is no surviving parent then you need a Will.
What does a personal representative do?
Being a personal representative is a huge responsibility and a time consuming commitment. A personal representative will have control over your entire estate so it is important to choose someone competent and whom you can trust. It is a good idea to select an alternative personal representative incase the one you have chosen cannot perform.
Some of the duties of a personal representative include:
What will happen if I die without a Will?
When you die without a Will in Massachusetts, you have died "intestate" which means your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. If you die with a Will, you have died “testate”. If you die intestate the court will appoint an administrator. An administrator has the same duties as a personal representative.
How will my estate be distributed if I die intestate?
Below is an outline of how your estate will be distributed if you die without a Will:
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process that takes place in the county where the deceased person resided. Probate occurs whether there is a Will or not. The personal representative or administrator collects the assets of the estate, pay debts and taxes, and transfers ownership of these assets from the deceased to people named in the Will or people who will inherit in accordance with the law. In Massachusetts, there are two different ways to probate an estate, informally or formally. Informal probate is not allowed under certain circumstances and formal probate may be required for certain reasons.
What is a probate asset? What is a non-probate asset?
Probate assets are assets that are owned solely by the decedent. These assets must be probated in order to transfer ownership to a different person. A non-probate asset is an asset whose disposition is not controlled by a Will or the laws of intestacy. Once the decedent dies, these assets pass to a new owner. An insurance policy with an identified beneficiary, jointly held property where there is a right of survivorship or a bank or retirement account that names a beneficiary are examples of non-probate assets.
Can my spouse and I have the same Will?
Unlike other states that allow spouses to create a single Will leaving everything to the other person, Massachusetts requires each spouse to have their own separate Will.
How do I protect my minor children?
In your Will you can name a legal guardian to take care of your minor children incase something happens to both parents. They have the legal authority and responsibility to take care of a child, just like a parent. If you die without a Will or fail to choose a legal guardian, the court will decide who takes care of your minor children.
Being a landlord in Massachusetts can be tough. With many pro-tenant laws it is important to understand your responsibilities and rights. One of the most important laws to abide by as a landlord is the Consumer Protection Statue, Chapter 93A. Violations of Chapter 93A can expose landlords to TRIPLE damages and require them to pay the cost of their tenant’s attorney fees.
A landlord violates Chapter 93A by committing an unfair or deceptive act or practice against a tenant. How do you know if your act or practice is unfair or deceptive? The Attorney General has created regulations to help determine if an act or practice is unfair or deceptive, in violation of Chapter 93A. Here are a few ways landlords can avoid liability:
Being a successful landlord in Massachusetts comes down to knowing and complying with the numerous laws regarding the management of rental properties. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration by planning and following the law!
Overview of the Law
In Massachusetts, the consequences of removing trees located on another person’s property include triple damages, imprisonment or a fine not more than $500. Single damages apply if an individual thought they were removing trees on their own property or if they thought they were authorized to act.
“Self-help” means a property owner can legally remove branches, roots and/or limbs of a neighbor’s tree located on that property owners land. Although a property owner can remove as much of the tree that is on their property, if a tree straddles the property line, neither property owner can do anything that would injure the tree as a whole. Also, keep in mind that if this trimming seriously injures the tree, you could be liable for the damage done. People have the right to cut down dead trees on a neighbor’s property that are about to fall. Therefore, in order to recover for damage done to a tree on your property the tree must be healthy.
Damages are measured by either the restoration costs, the cost of the timber cut or the resulting reduction in worth of the property. A qualified arborist can conduct a full restoration cost analysis. This analysis, known as cost-of-cure, takes into account the aesthetics, functionality, age, height, girth, and species of the trees, and formulates a restoration value for the replacement of the removed trees. The arborist will determine the cost of planting replacement trees and the estimated time for them to grow to the size of the destroyed trees.
In order to avoid the expense of triple damages it is important to be certain that a tree you want to remove is on your property. Obtaining a plot plan or hiring a surveyor can help avoid any potential problems down the road. If you want to remove a neighbors tree that is negatively affecting your property value or if someone wrongfully removes a tree on your property its important to consult with an expert to understand your options and rights.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a new rule beginning in October 2015 that combines mortgage disclosures previously established by the Truth-in-Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The purpose of this new rule entitled TRID which stands for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure is to improve consumer understanding of the mortgage process, aid in comparison shopping, and help to prevent surprises at closing.
Pre-TRID, two different disclosure forms explained the terms and costs of mortgage loans consumers were considering: the initial Truth–in-Lending disclosure with the Good Faith Estimate. Consumers also received two final disclosures at closing: the final Truth-in-Lending disclosure with the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. These disclosures had overlapping information and complicated terms, which made them hard for borrowers to understand and for lenders to explain. TRID combines these four disclosures to help improve consumer clarity and promote industry compliance. A three-page Loan Estimate replaces the initial Truth-in-Lending disclosure and Good Faith Estimate. The final Truth-in-Lending disclosure and HUD-1 Settlement Statement are replaced by a five-page Closing Disclosure.
TRID rules will affect the length of time to complete real estate transactions. From offer to acceptance, the real estate transaction will be extended to approximately 60 days. This means that all deadlines need to be tighter and that items typically left for a few days before closing have to be done earlier in the transaction. Offer forms and purchase and sale agreements can be updated with a simple TRID Rider addressing each of these revisions. It is important to use a Rider that protects the buyer from delays otherwise they could be at risk of losing their deposit.
Another impact of the TRID rules is the date on which all parties must provide the information necessary for the closing attorney and the lender to prepare the final Closing Disclosure. The Closing Disclosure must be issued to the borrower at least 3 days prior to closing. In order to timely generate the new Closing Disclosure, lenders will require all information necessary to prepare the Closing Disclosure well before this deadline. Accordingly, all information necessary to prepare the Closing Disclosure should be submitted to the closing attorney about 20 days prior to closing. An exact date should be agreed to in the purchase and sale agreement.