Sometimes a collision is so severe that the insurance company or leasing company declares the vehicle a “total loss” (paying off the consumer and taking title). This occurs when the cost of a proper repair exceeds 70% of the vehicle’s market value. These vehicles are supposed to be repaired at licensed repair facilities and then inspected for safety. If they pass the safety inspection, they may be sold with full disclosure of their salvage status (salvage title). The title of the subject vehicle must be branded with the word “salvage” by the insurance company that totaled the vehicle.
It is a violation 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 title to the vehicle has been inscribed with the notation “Lemon Law Buyback,” “manufacturer repurchase,” “salvage,” “junk,” “nonrepairable,” “flood,” or similar title designation required by this state or another state.
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 obtain a full refund of all their payments regardless of how many miles they have driven the vehicle.
Client purchased a 2001 Chrysler Sebring LX from Defendants. Subsequently, she discovered that the subject vehicle was previously branded with a salvage title and as such, its value was substantially lower than a similar vehicle without a salvage title. Defendants had failed to disclose this material information to her at the time of purchase.