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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Defamation Law Discussion Forum

Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby hob97 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:05 am

Basically over the weekend I purchased a Toyota Tacoma from a private party. it's a 1997 with only 67000 miles. I ran the carfax on it prior to purchasing it and it was totally clean with only 2 owners. The person I bought it from said they bought it a little over a month ago and it didn't work out for him because it was too small to use for his construction profession. Upon inspecting the car I had asked him if it had been in any accidents and he said "No." I proceeded to go see it and drove it up and down the street and it seemed to drive fine. We agreed on a price of $5200 so I bought it. He hadn't yet registered it from the previous owner so he still had the title from them with their signatures of release. the amount on the back was already at $1500 so i just left it in there. The following day I took it to Toyota to have it inspected to make sure it was ok and didn't need anything major. The Toyota dealership came back to me and said it had been in an accident and repaired poorly and that it was unsafe to drive. There is evidence of frame damage, the engine was shifted over on the mount, even the front tires are not even in the front. I called the guy I bought it from and told him and of course he played dumb. I don't know if he knew or not, but he sounds like he may have. What is my course of action here? The only thing I have to show the exact amount that I paid was a hand written bill of sale that he did and we both signed it. the DMV receipt is for $1500. He was kind of willing at first to refund me most of my money, but since I had already registered the car and don't have the title then he is now being unresponsive to my calls and emails. Can I sue this guy in small claims court? The Toyota dealership said that it's unsafe to drive and I think this guy new about it and that is why he sold it. None of the damage was super obvious to me at the time, but of course if you look you can see it from a mechanics standpoint. What is my course of action here? any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby corcoran42 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:10 am

The beauty of the US Justice system is that you can sue anyone. I can sue my neighbor for having unsightly nose hair. I stand as much chance of winning as you do.

All used cars are AS IS. you bought the car you were shown, in the condition it was presented. Everything that is wrong right now either happened after you bought it, or was already there when you agree to it. You saw it, drove it, looked it over, agreed on a price, and exchanged cash for keys. You own it.

This is why we tell people - get a mechanical inspection BEFORE you buy. You would have spend $100 for that. But in my world, spending $100 to protect $5000 is a win.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby cinnard » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:13 am

If you didn't check the car out thoroughly with a mechanic before you bought it then it sounds like it is your problem.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby atworth49 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:15 am

I believe this is a case of "buyer beware". I'm not sure you have any recourse in this situation, but I will tell you that if you're paying $5200 for a car that sold a month ago for $1500 there's a problem that you're not seeing.

I think you're going to have to chalk this up as a life lesson.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby wendlesora » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:22 am

i mean, you might win if they said it was completely safe, then you got in an accident and something didnt work the way they said it would to keep it safe. because you're buying that feature, if it doesnt really work, its false advertisement
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby wendlesora » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:27 am

Basically it's fraud: if you can convince a judge he knew of the damage and withheld that from you, you'd prob win a lawsuit.

But it's a lil murky: you registered it w/o the title that he still has? He wont communicate w/ you, so therefore he wont give you the title?

Not giving you the title wont look good for him in court.

And you should get an invoice from Toyota detailing the damage w/ their written opinion it's not safe to drive. [You prob wont get it through inspection.]

He wont look good on that angle, either.

Plus, he wont communicate w/ you, nuther black mark.

So he'd look bad in court and I think he'd be smart to give you a refund which he might when he gets your suit notice via certified mail from the courthouse and sees you'r serious.

I've won some small claims cases as a non-lawyer, and I've had defendants act arrogant till they get the notice, then they get negotiable bc they have their reasons for not wanting the situation aired out in court.

Call some lawyers who practice consumer law in your area and ask for advice on the phone. I always do that b4 a case, and most are very helpful. They'r also looking at you as a potential client.

Next time, take a witness w/ you who will testify if need be about sellers' statements like it's never been an accident. This applies to car dealers, too, and new car dealers.

Hopefully he has some assets you can have seized & sell to satisfy your judgement if you win.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby gilleabart » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:30 am

Upon inspecting the car I had asked him if it had been in any accidents and he said "No."
--

That's called hearsay, and if you watch Judge Judy enough, you know that is inadmissible as testimony in court.

Your course of action is to enjoy your truck. Make yourself enjoy it, because it is yours.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby pannoowau » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:39 am

You have the vehicle inspected BEFORE you buy it. Not after. All private sales are as-is so you own it. You can try to sue, but since the title wasn't in the sellers name you cannot prove that he sold it to you.

You also cheated the DMV on the sales tax. If you tried to sue you would end up finding yourself in trouble. You cheated your state out of money.

Also, I am willing to bet that the truck has more than 67,000 miles on it. He bought it, didn't title it. Rolled back the miles and sold it to you.

Carfax says the mileage is right? That's because this guy is smart and ran a Carfax also to see what the last reported mileage was.

You may have gotten screwed, but it is your fault for not noticing any of the red flags.
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Can I sue someone for selling me a car that was previously in an accident that made it unsafe to drive?

Postby baigh » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:41 am

You own the car regardless. You can sue him but you would lose.

And, the lower priced bill of sale just ensured that EVEN IF you had a case, which you don't, you would only win $1500.
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