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If I sell a car, 3 months later car still in my name, involved in accident, can I be held liable for damages?

Wasilla, AK |

I was looking to purchase a car . We had a verbal agreement that I would drive the care for two weeks before deciding . The title , registration , and insurance were put in my name . After the two weeks I decided not to purchase the car . I gave the car and the title back to the owner , and I canceled the insurance . Three months later the car was involved in an accident . That was when I found out that it was still registered in my name ! The day after the accident , it was finally registered in her name . Now the insurance company for the other driver is pursuing me for financial damages of $ 2 , 792 . 94 . DIV will not give me a copy of the back of the title claiming privacy laws prohibit it . I have no other documentation that I gave the car back to the owner . What are my options ?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. I would suggest that you contact the DMV and speak with a supervisor. You seem to want access to a title which bears your name as the owner. I would think that you are entitled to a full copy of the document, which apparently bears your signature transferring ownership back to the person who was originally selling you the car. You may need to complete a specialized form to obtain a copy, but I think you should be able to get access to it if you speak with someone in authority

    I suggest that you write to the insurance company for the other driver and explain the situation and that you were not, at the time of the accident, the owner of the vehicle. The fact the original owner failed to timely file the registration documents should not change your status as a nonowner.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.


  2. Let me preface this by saying I handle car accident cases in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more specific advice, you should contact a local attorney. However, from a Pennsylvania perspective, you would not be responsible for this accident. Simply because the car was in your name does not make you responsible.
    If you had automobile insurance at the time of this accident, you should turn this over to your own insurance carrier. In your question, you said that you canceled the automobile insurance on the car. However, if you had automobile insurance on another car at the time of the accident, you should turn the claim over to that insurance company and ask them to defend you.
    If you did not have automobile insurance, you are going to need to defend this claim either yourself or with a local lawyer. You're being sued for almost $3000. So I would think it would be worth it to consult with a local attorney.


  3. Contact the DMV with all of your paperwork documenting this and try to get it cleared up. You may need to hire a lawyer if this get ugly. Good luck!


  4. Write a letter to the DMV requesting the documents and enclosing the documents from the insurance company. You may need to retain an attorney to assist with the matter, but, I would be concerned with the cost of getting an attorney.


  5. Alaska car titles have a detachable slip for the seller to send in to the DMV at the time of transfer - providing notice that you have given up ownership. The purpose is to avoid problems like this. After all, you have no control over whether the person wil proceed to obtain proper registration. You are entitled to copies of the documents. I agree that you should try to speak with a supervisor at the DMV.


  6. Best bet is to contact DMV and speak to a supervisor.

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