Accident-Damaged Cars & Trucks
Every year car dealers sell tens of thousands of accident-damaged cars and trucks to unsuspecting consumers. California isn’t immune to this problem. Whether you live in San Diego or Los Angeles, Orange County or the Bay Area, consumers need to be on guard to protect their motor vehicle investments.
Although the California lemon law does not contain any specific provisions to protect consumers from collision-damaged cars, as described below California has several consumer protection statutes and common law rules that prevent dealers from duping people into buying accident-damaged vehicles.
If you were tricked into buying an accident-damaged car or truck, the call the Vachon Law Firm right now at (858) 674-4100. Consultations are always FREE! And we can tell you if you have a right to monetary compensation because of your “wrecked” vehicle
Reasons to Stay Away From Accident-Damaged Cars and Trucks
Avoiding accident-damaged cars and trucks is important for several reasons. First, if a vehicle has been in a collision, this will likely reduce the resale value, especially if the damage is detectable or is reported to one of the companies that sells vehicle history reports (e.g., Carfax, AutoCheck, etc.). Second, accident-damaged vehicles (especially those with front-end damage) are more prone to malfunctions, defects, and costly repairs. Vehicles with front-end damage often experience problems with the air conditioner compressor and alignment problems. Third, accident damage can ruin a car or truck’s factory paint job, affecting the appearance of the vehicle. After-market paint (i.e., the kind that is applied after an accident) is, under the best of circumstances, not as good as the original factory paint job. Over time, the repainted portions of the vehicle will wear differently causing the vehicle to have a two-tone paint job. Fourth and finally, accident damage (especially damage to the vehicle’s frame or unibody construction) weakens the structural integrity of the vehicle, potentially making it less safe.
Car Dealers Cannot Lie to You About a Vehicle’s Prior Accident Damage
One of the first things you need to know is that (even before the enactment of statutes like the California lemon law) car dealers have never been allowed to lie to their customers to trick them into purchasing accident-damaged vehicles. Lying, in legal terms, is called fraud, and committing fraud in auto transactions is has been illegal since the invention of the automobile.
Because fraud is always a potentially viable legal claim against a dishonest car dealer, before buying a used car or truck you should ALWAYS specifically ask if the vehicle has been in any accidents. Preferably ask about vehicle accident damage when a witness (e.g. a friend or relative who can testify as to what the car dealer said) is around to hear the answer. If the dealer lies about prior accident damage, then you will likely have a legal claim for auto fraud.
Car Dealers Are Obligated to Disclose Known “Material” Vehicle Accident Damage
In addition to being prohibited from lying when answering questions about prior accident damage, under California law car dealerships have an obligation to disclose to potential purchasers any known material facts regarding the vehicles they sell. Accordingly, in accident-damaged vehicle cases you may be entitled to relief if you (with the help of a skilled auto fraud attorney) can prove: (1) that the accident damage was “material,” and (2) that the dealer knew about the pre-existing collision damage when it sold the car.
What is “Material” Vehicle Accident Damage?
To be “material” the damage needs to be serious. It at least needs to be something that a reasonable purchaser would consider in deciding whether or not to purchase the car or truck. Examples of “material” damage are damage to the vehicle’s frame or unibody construction, front-end suspension damage, damage that is or was expensive to repair (i.e., several thousand dollars), and damage that affects the way the vehicle currently operates (e.g., causing it to pull to one side, air-conditioner malfunctions, tire blow-outs, etc.).
How Can You Prove the Dealer Knew About the Vehicle’s Accident Damage?
Proving that the car dealership knew about the collision damage is usually not as difficult as you would imagine, particularly if the vehicle damage qualifies as material. Generally, used car dealers are experts in inspecting and valuing used cars and trucks. After all, that’s how they earn a living. As a result, if a dealer sells an accident-damaged vehicle to an unsuspecting consumer, an experienced auto fraud attorney can often prove that the dealer either knew or should have known about the damage. California lemon law attorneys who specialize in these types of cases are experts in using California’s civil discovery rules to force dealerships to turn over documentation of their purchase and inspection of the vehicle. This evidence often provides the smoking gun.
The Vachon Law Firm specializes in accident-damaged vehicle lawsuits. If you purchased an accident or collision damaged car or truck, the damage is serious, and the used car dealer didn’t tell you about it, then call (858) 674-4100 right now. Consultations are always FREE! And we will tell you whether you have a right to monetary recovery.