Can I Sue for Hidden Frame Damage On My Car?

Consumers deceived by any type of auto fraud, including car frame damage and water damage, have rights under Maryland law.  Whitney, LLP’s auto fraud lawyers have experience successfully representing victims in auto fraud and car frame damage claims in the Baltimore area.  Car dealers who sell damaged vehicles to consumers usually have bought the vehicles at a large discount at auction due to the damaged status of the vehicle, and sell the vehicle at full retail price to the unsuspecting consumer.  Greed is the dealership’s motivation for committing auto fraud.

What is Car Frame Damage?

A vehicle’s frame is the basis for the safety of the vehicle.  It acts as the skeleton of the car, with the doors, panels and engine attached to it.  Modern vehicles are designed so that the frame will “crumple” when it sustains an impact.  The crumple effect causes the energy in the crash to be absorbed by the frame instead of the driver and passengers.  Just like people do not want their own bones to be cracked or crushed, the frame of a car must be solid and undamaged to provide maximum safety to the driver and passengers.  If you are driving a vehicle with  a damaged frame, not only might the car not drive the way it should, but the safety of the vehicle has been compromised.

frame damaged car

Can Car Dealerships Sell A Frame Damaged Vehicle?

There is one condition that a car dealership must comply with before selling a frame damaged vehicle to a consumer.  The frame damage must be disclosed, in writing, and when it is not, the failure to disclose car frame damage turns into auto fraud.  When auto frame damage is not disclosed to a consumer , the consumer should then consult an experienced auto fraud and frame damage lawyer.  Whitney, LLP offers free attorney consultations to victims of auto fraud and frame damage in the Baltimore area and throughout Maryland.

How To Discover Frame Damage On A Car

In our experience, the dealership will deny knowing about the frame damage once the consumer realizes their car is damaged and confronts the dealer.  Do not be surprised by an outright denial that is 100% false.  Unfortunately, this scam is pulled successfully most of the time and the dealer believes they can get away with it.

Consumers usually discover the frame damage in one of several ways: once they try to obtain insurance for the vehicle, and the vehicle comes back as uninsurable due to the damage; once something goes wrong on the vehicle and the body shop or mechanic discovers the damage; once they get routine maintenance performed and mechanic notices the damage; or  they purchase an AutoCheck or CarFax report and learn the truth.  Sometimes a dealership will show the customer a CarFax report that does not yet been updated with the damage, and sometimes a dealership will show a CarFax for another VIN number.  A comprehensive way to check the history of the vehicle is to get the CarFax and AutoCheck reports, and have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchase.

auction car

Where Do Auto Dealerships Buy Damaged Cars?

Car auctions offer frame damaged and water damaged vehicles for sale to dealerships.  Auctions are required to disclose the damage on a vehicle before selling it to dealerships.  There are at least three ways that the auction can disclose when it is selling a damaged vehicle.  When the car is announced for sale, a red or yellow light will come on in the lane the vehicle is in.  This signals to the car dealer buying the vehicle that the car has a problem.  The description of the car that is read to the crowd of potential buyers will also announce the type of damage the car has. Finally, the receipt for the vehicle should state that the type of damage.  

Although the dealership that bought the vehicle at auction knows it is damaged, they may be able to hide the damage from the consumer by providing a CarFax report that has not yet been updated with the damaged status of the car.  This deceit allows the car dealership to show a CarFax to the customer that appears to be “clean,” while in reality the dealership knows that the truth about the damaged car is sitting in a file where the customer will never find it.

What To Do After Buying A Frame Damaged Car

Call or email us.  We have represented clients who were sold frame damaged vehicles by a car dealership, discovered the damage after the sale, then confronted the dealership manager and were flat out lied to and told there was no damage.  Investigation revealed that the car had been purchased as a damaged vehicle at auction, and the paperwork proved it.  

If you, a family member or a friend has been the victim of buying a frame damaged, water damaged or otherwise damaged vehicle, contact us.  Our lawyers know how to hold fraudulent car dealerships responsible for selling damaged vehicles to consumers. Remedies can include getting out of the finance contract, returning the vehicle for a full refund, and obtaining compensation for being defrauded.  Our legal fees and any case expenses are paid only out of a recovery we achieve.

Consultations are always free.  Call Whitney, LLP’s Baltimore auto fraud and frame damaged car  lawyers today to discuss your potential auto fraud and frame damage case at 410 583 8000, or send us a Quick Contact right now and an attorney will call you shortly.