First, get your ducks in a row. Make sure you have everything carefully documented on how bad the accident was or what parts have been replaced or worked on and what still needs to be done to make it right. Find out the estimated cost to fix everthing too. When you meet with the seller, make sure you emphasize the importance of safety to you and that you would never buy a vehicle that looked like it had air bags in it but really did not have air bags that work. Don't use the work lawyer or lawsuit since that will probably make the seller mad and uncooperative. Don't call it fraud either, even though that may be what it is. Using strong words may well make the seller decide to call your bluff and then you could be in for a long legal process before you get it over with and meanwhile you are stuck with the vehicle and without your money. Right now you should be trying to negotiate (schmooze) your way out of the deal. If worse comes to worse and you can't resolve it, then it is time to go talk to a local lawyer near you. Here's some general rules on private car sales laws that may help you understand your situation. In a private person sale, the law is very different from a car dealer sale. In a sale between two individuals, neither of whom is a car dealer, in most states the only obligation on the seller is to answer the buyer’s questions honestly and not hide anything that the seller realizes the buyer would want to know about. If there was any kind of written sales contract, look at that to see if anything was written down about promises or guarantees or representations. Regardless of that though, the seller has to tell the truth about the mileage on the car too by filling out correctly and honestly an odometer statement (often printed on the back side of the original vehicle title) for the buyer. And in those states that require mandatory emissions tests in order to get a vehicle licensed, many of those states say that if the emission/pollution equipment was disabled or removed then the buyer may have the right to cancel the sale. If the seller lies to the buyer or hides something from the buyer, then that can be fraud in most states. If none of that applies to the deal, then the buyer may have no recourse after the sale for anything that goes wrong with the vehicle. To learn more about what fraud legally means, check out this Avvo Guide, “What is Fraud?”: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-is-fraud-1. But the law can be a little different in each state so to find out what all this means in your situation, you need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney near you. You can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/ocll-site/ocll-locate_local.shtml) 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, NACA.net). 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. And be sure to indicate the best answer to your question so we can all be sure we are being helpful. Thanks for asking and Good Luck. Ron Burdge, www.USLemonLawyers.com
Go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers
What is Fraud? Read this Avvo Legal Guide and find out before you become a victim of fraud, click here
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.
Because bringing an action against a private party is more difficult in many ways than going against a dealer it is imperative that you have all of your facts straight first. You may get some direction from a consumer protection atty. Find someone qualified here:
You can sue under Texas law, but can you collect a judgment against the seller?
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