Car Damage Disclosure Settlement Against Temple Hills, MD Used Car Dealer

No one wants to buy a damaged car.  However, some car dealerships and used car dealers sell damaged cars without telling the buyer about the damage.  When that happens, and the damage to the car is serious, the purchaser has legal rights to be compensated for the concealed damage.  Helping deceived consumers exercise their legal rights against car dealerships and used car dealers that sell damaged vehicles is one area of practice that the car dealership consumer protection attorneys at Whitney, LPP offer to our clients.

This blog post describes an unpleasant experience that our client had with a used car dealer located in Prince George’s County in Temple Hills, Maryland after she purchased a vehicle that had been seriously damaged, and that the used car dealer had purchased as damaged, but the damage was never disclosed to her.  Fortunately, our client ended up being able to return the car, recover compensation for the experience, and have her attorney’s fees paid by the used car dealer after Whitney, LLP filed a lawsuit for her and then negotiated a settlement.

Car Frame Damage Was Not Disclosed To The Buyer

In late 2015 our client went to the used car dealer in Temple Hills, Maryland to look for a vehicle to purchase.  She selected a 2012 Honda Civic with 28,229 miles. Before taking it for a test drive, she noticed that the car had different color paint and a scuff on the bumper.  Our client alleged that she inquired about the different paint color and scuff mark to her salesman, and that the salesman told her that the car had never been in an accident.  She was also provided a CarFax report for the vehicle that was free of accidents.  Our client alleged that the salesman also told her that the vehicle had been inspected by the used car dealer’s own mechanics prior to the vehicle being made available for sale. In reliance upon the salesman’s representations and the CarFax report, Plaintiffs purchased the vehicle for approximately $11,000.

Approximately one week after the purchase, our client received a phone call from the used car dealer asking her to contact her insurance company and have them fax proof of insurance to a new finance company for the vehicle.  While on the phone with her insurance company, the insurance company employee ran the vehicle’s VIN.  To our client’s surprise, the VIN had a flag, and came back with information indicating that her vehicle had “sustained frame/unibody damage.” Frame damage to a vehicle is the most serious kind of damage a vehicle can sustain, and should always be disclosed to a potential buyer.  Most car sales companies who sell to the general public do not sell frame damaged vehicles on their lots.

Our client was shocked to learn that her vehicle had frame damage.  She purchased an AutoCheck report, which noted that on October 5, 2015, the vehicle had been sold at an auto auction and that the vehicle had been announced at the auction as having unibody damage.  She was surprised because the CarFax report that she had been provided by the used car dealer did not show any damage.  

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Our Client Was Unable To Resolve The Claims Herself

Shortly thereafter, she called the used car dealer and spoke with the General Manager. During the conversation, he denied knowing about any of the damage to the vehicle, and then pretended that the phone connection was going bad, and hung upon her.  

The next step our client took was to bring her vehicle to a mechanic to be inspected.  The inspection noted the following areas of damage on the vehicle: “The drivers side [sic] lower core support area [frame damage] is completely twisted and rusted. The shields are broken, missing fasteners and ‘secured’ with tie straps. Radiator is not on supports. The rear bumper assembly is pushed back and there is damage on multiple areas . . .”

Two days later, she took the vehicle to another inspection shop for a second opinion. The inspection noted damage that would cost over $7,000 in parts and labor to repair. Our client then went to the used car dealer to speak with a manager.  Our client alleged that she was told that no one was available to speak with her, and that the next day, the owner called our client and told her that he did not know of any damage to the vehicle.

Whitney, LLP Was Hired To Represent The Consumer

At this point, after several attempts, our client realized that she was not going to be able to resolve this matter herself, and contacted Whitney, LLP for representation.  After being hired, the attorneys at Whitney, LLP quickly obtained a copy of the bill of sale for the vehicle at Manheim Auto Auction where the used car dealer had purchased it.  The bill of sale reads, in part, “ANN COND: Repaired Unibody.” That abbreviation means that before the car was sold at the auction to the used car dealer, there was an announcement to all of the potential buyers that the car had frame damage that had been repaired. 

Frame damage to a vehicle is significant because it directly affects the safety of the vehicle’s occupants as well as how the vehicle will operate.  The frame damage that was not disclosed to our client was significant damage that damaged the structural integrity of the car, making it dangerous to operate and making it dangerous for its occupants if it was to be involved in an accident.  One expert mechanic that Whitney, LLP’s attorney spoke with told us that due to the damage the car had sustained, the airbags were likely no longer calibrated correctly, placing the occupants of the vehicle at an even further serious risk in a collision.

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Whitney, LLP Sued and Settled The Car Damaged Disclosure Case

After Whitney, LLP was hired to represent our client against the used car dealer, a letter of representation was sent to the company.  That letter was responded to by an attorney who was not licensed to practice in Maryland.  The attorney stated that the used car dealer would purchase the vehicle back at the same price that our client had paid, with no further compensation.  Upon receiving such an unreasonable response, Whitney, LLP filed a lawsuit against the used car dealer in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, alleging negligence, violation of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act, fraud and fraudulent concealment.

Within several weeks, we were contacted by another attorney on behalf of the used car dealer.  The case was quickly settled, with the used car dealer buying the car back from our client, paying her a large sum of money for the emotional distress she endured, and paying the attorneys fees of Whitney, LLP.  In consumer protection cases, Whitney, LLP receives our attorney’s fees either from the compensation we recover for our client or paid separately by the business or company who deceived or defrauded our client.

Initial consultations are also free with Whitney, LLP  in consumer protection and car dealer fraud cases.  To contact us to arrange a free initial consultation, use our Quick Contact Form located on the website, or call us at 410 583 8000.




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