There are inherent risks to buying a car from a private seller. You won’t have the same warranties that come from a dealer or manufacturer, and will not have as many options to take action against the seller if something happens with the vehicle after the transaction.
But just because your legal options are limited does not mean they are nonexistent. There are some circumstances in which a private seller could still have some liability for issues relating to a vehicle they sell. These include:
- Improper title transfer: It is the seller’s responsibility to transfer a title to the name of the buyer and to complete and file all of the paperwork associated with this process. They must maintain copies of this paperwork for at least 18 months.
- Fraud: If a private seller committed some sort of fraud while selling the vehicle, they could be liability for some of the issues with it. For example, if they knew of a safety defect but failed to inform the buyer, the seller could be at least partially liable for any resulting injuries. Any false representations relating to the sale and marketing of the vehicle are the seller’s responsibility.
- Documentation: In addition to title transfers, the seller is also responsible for recording the sale and completing all associated documentation with the local DMV.
- Negligent misrepresentation: This issue is similar to fraudulent misrepresentation, but with a lower burden of proof for the accuser. You do not, in this type of case, need to prove the seller knowingly misrepresented the state of the vehicle. Instead, the standard is whether the seller should have known the representations were untrue, or if they acted with a disregard for the truth. A seller who fails to have the vehicle inspected before selling, for example, could be considered to have made negligent misrepresentations of the vehicle’s condition.
For more information about holding private sellers liable for accidents and vehicle condition, contact a trusted Manatee County auto accident lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.