Used cars often have pre-existing conditions, which may include frame damage or body damage. In such cases, the selling dealership is obligated by law to give the buyer a written disclosure notice. If your vehicle has frame damage, it is generally valued at 30-70% less compared to similar vehicles without frame damage. Additionally, this kind of damage may pose serious safety threats.

According to the California Vehicle Code, damage sustained by a motor vehicle is material if the damage required repairs having a value, including parts and labor calculated at the repairer’s cost, exceeding 3 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the vehicle or five hundred dollars ($500), whichever is greater. The replacement of damaged or stolen components, excluding the cost of repainting or refinishing those components, if replaced by the installation of new original manufacturer’s equipment, parts, or accessories that are bolted or otherwise attached as a unit to the vehicle, including, but not limited to, the hood, bumpers, fenders, mechanical parts, instrument panels, moldings, glass, tires, wheels, and electronic instruments, shall be excluded from the damage calculation, except that any damage having a cumulative repair or replacement value which exceeds 10 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the vehicle shall be deemed material. Alternatively, damage sustained by a motor vehicle is material if the damage was to the frame or drive train of the motor vehicle, if the damage occurred in connection with a theft of the entire vehicle, or if the damage was to the suspension of the vehicle requiring repairs other than wheel balancing or alignment.

If the cost of repairing a damaged vehicle exceeds 70% of its market value, then such a vehicle’s title must be branded as salvage.

Every dealer shall disclose in writing to the purchaser of a new or previously unregistered motor vehicle, prior to entering into a contract for the vehicle or, if unknown at that time, prior to delivery of the vehicle, any material damage known by the dealer to have been sustained by the vehicle and subsequently repaired.

Every dealer shall disclose in writing to the purchaser of a new or previously unregistered motor vehicle, prior to entering into a contract for the vehicle or, if unknown at that time, prior to delivery of the vehicle, any damage, including, but not limited to, material damage, known by the dealer to have been sustained by the vehicle and not repaired.

It is also a violation of the California Vehicle Code for the holder of any Dealer’s license to advertise for sale or sell a used vehicle as “certified” or use any similar descriptive term in the advertisement or the sale of a used vehicle that implies the vehicle has been certified to meet the terms of a used vehicle certification program if the dealer knows or should have known that the vehicle has sustained frame damage.

In the event that the dealership fails to act in conformity with these laws, the consumer is entitled to remedies to include rescission of the purchase agreement and payment for actual damages, consequential damages, punitive damages, and costs of litigation. In most instances we are able to recover attorneys’ fees as either consequential damages or punitive damages. Therefore, our clients usually recover all their payments plus often times extra cash.


SAMPLE CASE 1:

Client vs. Client’s Prior Attorney

Our Client purchased a 2004 Mercedes SL 600 from a large franchise new car dealership. Subsequently, it was discovered that the subject vehicle had previously been involved in a major collision and had sustained frame damage.
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SAMPLE CASE 2:

Client vs. Online Motors

Client purchased a 2004 BMW 530i from Defendants. Subsequently, he discovered that the subject vehicle had frame damage and as such, its value was significantly lower than perceived at the time of sale. Defendants had failed to disclose this material information to him at the time of purchase.
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SAMPLE CASE 3:

Client vs. Auto Depot

Client purchased a 2004 Infiniti G35 from Defendants. Subsequently, he discovered that the subject vehicle had frame damage and as such, its value was substantially lower than perceived at the time of purchase. Defendants never disclosed this material information to him at the time of purchase.
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