How to Sue a Car Dealer for Misrepresentation
You’ve found the best “newish” used car out there -- a spiffy little sports coupe with a shiny coat of paint and the extra power of a V6 engine. You proudly drive off the lot with the keys in your hand and not a care in the world other than where you next road trip will be. The dealer told you the car was in “mint condition,” never been in an accident, and has low mileage.
While this all sounds like a car enthusiast’s dream, it’s about to turn into a nightmare.
You learn that the car has been in a major collision with significant body damage (since made to look new) and the odometer has been rolled back. The dealer was clearly not being truthful with you, a civil wrong also known as “misrepresentation.” What do you do? You may have to file a lawsuit. Below you will find key information about how to sue a car dealer for misrepresentation.
Federal and State Laws
First, let’s start with a brief overview of the law. There are several federal and state statutes in place that prohibit car dealer fraud and misrepresentation. While “lemon laws” cover the sale of defective vehicles, car dealer fraud laws are meant to protect consumers looking to purchase a car, truck, van, or motorcycle. Some of these laws include regulations put into place by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state consumer protection agencies such as California Department of Consumer Affairs, and general state fraud statutes.
Examples of car dealer misrepresentation include odometer tampering, “bait and switch” advertising, and asserting that a vehicle contains options or features that it does not.
Types of Auto Dealer Misrepresentation Claims
There are two basics types of auto dealer misrepresentations: omissions of fact and blatant misrepresentations. Most lawsuits will be filed under a theory of “bait and switch" advertising practices, deceptive inflation of vehicle prices, and failure to disclose information about a vehicle. There is also the common law tort of fraud which a skilled attorney may be able to assist you with.
How to File a Lawsuit
A victim of auto dealer fraud will want to collect damages for their loss. If you believe you have been the victim of auto dealer fraud by way of misrepresentation, you may very well be able to file a lawsuit. Some states will require you to contact the dealer first to give them the opportunity to correct the matter or to speak with a state consumer protection agency. Some possible remedies that the victim may be entitled to collect on include:
- Surrendering the vehicle and getting a full refund of all payments made toward the purchase
- Canceling any outstanding loan balances or obligations
- Having court costs and attorney fees reimbursed
- Being awarded punitive damages for particularly egregious conduct
Research the Law
How to Sue a Car Dealer for Misrepresentation: Related Resources
- Details on State Civil Statute of Limitations
- Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection
- How to Get Out of a Car Purchase: Is there a Cooling-Off Period?
Learn More About Car Dealer Misrepresentation
Car dealer scams are on the rise and it is up to you to ensure your rights are protected. To learn more about car fraud laws in your state and how to file a lawsuit if you believe you’ve been the victim of this practice, speak with an experienced auto dealer fraud lawyer in your state today. An experienced lawyer can review your case, advise you how to report the alleged fraud, and how to get compensated for your losses.