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I purchased a car and just found out it was wrecked. What are my legal writes?

Fort Lauderdale, FL |

I had purchased a car for $23,000 cash 6 days ago from a private seller. The car was in excellent cosmetic condition. I had the car inspected the next day and found out it was wrecked and had body and suspension replaced. I had asked both the seller and her brother who showed me the car, why are you selling and if there's anything wrong with the car, and both neglected to tell me the car was in a severe wreck were body work and suspension had to be replaced which now makes the car turn to the left by itself when i take my hands of the steering wheel while driving or while pressing the brakes. I called the seller to return the car back and offered to pay out of my own expense to transfer the title back to her and give me my money back. She would walk away from this sale and not lose any money, she refused my offer. What are my legal writes that i can sue for and whats the chances of me winning and collecting money from the seller?

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Attorney answers 3


Collecting is always the problem, but here's the basic rules for your rights. Wrecked and repaired cars can be dangerous because you don't know the quality of the repair job or the repairman. Buying a car in a private sale can be risky (online or off) because the law is very different from a car dealer purchase. When a person sells a motor vehicle to another person, and neither of the seller is not in the business of selling vehicles, then in most states the only obligation on the seller is to answer your questions honestly and not hide anything that they know you would want to know before deciding to buy it. If the seller lies to you or hides something from you, that can be fraud in most states. Every state has its own definition of fraud, but generally it's a lie or something kept hidden that costs you money. There is a big difference in value between a car that has never been wrecked and one that has, even when the repairs are done right. It's called "diminished value" and it means your car is worth much less than one that was not wrecked and repaired. If you were still close to your purchase date, you probably would have the right to either cancel the deal or recover the amount you were overcharged for the car. Later, collecting your damages is the most you can generally get and that would be the difference between what you thought the car was worth, and what it really was worth when you bought it. If you want to know what your car is really worth, take it to a car dealer and see how much they will give you for it after you tell them that it was wrecked. Many car dealers won't want to buy it at all. Still, there is more than one way to get rid of a wrecked car (or a bad car) or to get even when you’ve been ripped off. First look at your sales paperwork (if you have any) and see if anything was written down about any kind of guarantee or warranty. In a used car deal, most of your legal rights are dependant on the paperwork you sign. To know what all this means in your particular case though you should talk to a local Consumer Law lawyer about your state laws and what your rights are, right away. You can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, You can also look for one here on Avvo under the Find a Lawyer tab. Or you can call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you. But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give a “Vote Up” review below. Thanks for asking and Good Luck. Ron Burdge,,

For a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers, click here

“What is Fraud” is explained in this Avvo Legal Guide, click here

Why wrecked cars are dangerous ripoffs, click here to read more

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. If you need a Consumer Law attorney, click the link above to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.


Did they either orally or in writing state or imply that it had never been wrecked? If so, you may have an action for fraud, fraud in the inducement, recission. If there is nothing in writing, or worse, something like an "as is" agreement, you may have a hard time proving your case. You spent a lot of money on this and you probably will want to hire an attorney to review your situation before you make a decision.

There is no substitute for the professional advice of an attorney who knows your case and represents you. My post is not, and may not be relied on as, legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Best wishes for a just and expeditious resolution.

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge


Attorney Murphy is right about the need to have a local attorney go over this in detail with you and his office doesn't look like it is that far away from you. It would be worth a modest fee to meet with him and know for sure what your legal rights are and get some good advice on the best way to handle this. I recommend you call him or another attorney near you right away. Rebecca Covey is also in your area and she knows auto sales fraud law too.



Fraud will follow cause its not new.! thats a ground for lawsuit

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge


You may have a claim for fraud but you need to talk to a local consumer law or auto sales fraud lawyer to find out for sure what your state laws say you can do. In Ft Lauderdale, I'd say call Rebecca Covey. Her phone is listed under Florida at


Toughest problem I see here is that it is a private seller. What that likely means is that you are likely going to have to pay your own attorney if you do have to sue. That could end up costing more than the car itself. Do consult with someone in your state who handles these types of cases as you should get excellent advice. Find someone qualified here:

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