Non-disclosure of previous damage

Non-disclosure of previous damageMany used vehicles have previously been involved in a collision. A consumer is entitled to full disclosure of previous material damage to a vehicle. The selling party must by law disclose to a buyer if a vehicle has been involved in a major accident, even if the damage has been “repaired.” Furthermore, upon inquiry regarding prior accidents, the selling party must provide a truthful response and may not make affirmative statements without actual knowledge of their validity.

According to the California Vehicle Code, previous 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.

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 vehicle has sustained previous damage in an impact, fire, or flood, that after repair prior to sale substantially impairs the use or safety of the vehicle.

Furthermore, the California Vehicle Code holds that no holder of a dealer license shall make or disseminate, or cause to be made or disseminated, before the public in this state, in any newspaper or other publication, or any advertising device, or by public outcry or proclamation, or in any other manner or means whatever, any statement which is untrue or misleading and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading; or to so make or disseminate, or cause to be so disseminated, any statement as part of a plan or scheme with the intent not to sell any vehicle or service so advertised at the price stated therein, or as so advertised.

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.


SAMPLE CASE 1:

Client vs. Honda of Escondido

Client purchased a 2007 Honda Accord from Defendants. Subsequently, she discovered that the subject vehicle had previously been involved in an accident and as such, its value was substantially lower than perceived at the time of purchase. Defendants had failed to disclose this material information to her at the time of purchase.
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SAMPLE CASE 2:

Client vs. Bellflower Auto Mart

Client purchased a 2001 Volkswagen Passat from Defendants. Subsequently, she discovered that the subject vehicle had previously been involved in an accident and as such, its value was substantially lower than perceived at the time of purchase. Defendants had failed to disclose this material information to her at the time of purchase.
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