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How to sue a Car Dealer for Misrepresentation?

You have been waiting for years to save enough money to buy the car of your dreams. After making your purchase from a dealer, you found out that the odometer was rolled back and some other failures also exist. What to do? Actually, such cases are the result of a car dealer misrepresentations and you as a victim may file a claim against the dealer to protect your consumer rights. But how to do that?

Laws on car dealer misrepresentation

Surely, there are certain state and federal laws which aim to prohibit car dealer misrepresentations and fraud. Don’t confuse lemon cases with dealer fraud. If you have bought a car with defects and were unable to fix them after several attempts, you face a lemon. But when your rights as a consumer were violated by the dealer through his/her fraudulent actions, in such cases dealer fraud laws may be a good source of legal protection for your case. To be more precise, if you face odometer rollback, ”bait and switch” advertising, etc., this article is for you. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), California Department of Consumer Affairs, etc. put into place such laws that protect consumers against car dealer misrepresentation.

According to federal law, dealers are prohibited to misrepresent both the mechanical condition of the car and the terms of an issued warranty. In general, there are 2 types of claims regarding deceptive dealings:

  • Fraudulent misrepresentation
  • Negligent misrepresentation

How to sue for misrepresentation

To sue for fraudulent misrepresentation, you as a plaintiff have 6 main elements to be proven to the court. The elements include

  • The evidence that the car dealer made a false representation of a vehicle. This may be in the form of any direct statements
  • The evidence that the car dealer made a false representation of a vehicle. This may be in the form of any direct statements
  • The car dealer either intentionally or recklessly misrepresented the vehicle
  • The dealer intentionally made the false representation to make the plaintiff rely on it
  • The plaintiff trusted the dealer and believed the truthfulness of the representation
  • It was reasonable for the plaintiff to rely on the representation
  • The plaintiff suffered as a result of his/her reliance on the car dealer misrepresentation

As you already know, you may also have a claim for negligent misrepresentation. For this, you just need to prove that the car dealer made the representation under such circumstances which indicate a reckless disregard for the truth. In this case, as well you will have to prove certain elements like the above-mentioned ones.

Collecting damages

The following are potential damages which you might recover from the dealer:

  • A refund of all sums paid for the vehicle
  • A refund of all sums paid for the vehicle
  • Cancellation of any loan balance or obligation
  • Reimbursement of court costs and attorney fees
  • Punitive damages for misconduct

A common example

Let’s discuss a sample situation where consumer Jessy buys a brand new Porsche from a dealer. Six months later Jessy finds out that her vehicle’s warranty was activated a year before her purchase. After doing some more digging, Jessy learns that her car was sold to Bob a year prior to her purchase. Bob had crashed the vehicle, repaired it and sold it back to the dealer. It becomes apparent that the dealer had then misled Jessy into buying the vehicle thinking it was brand new when in fact it was used and had been involved in an accident.

So what would Jessy be entitled to recover? With the help of an experienced dealer fraud attorney, Jessy could potentially recover a refund of her down payment and all monthly payments for the Porsche. She might also recover punitive damages as a means to punish and deter the dealer from doing the same to other consumers. Jessy would also be entitled under certain laws to receive her attorney’s fees and litigation costs from the dealer.

Fortunately for California consumers, and consumers in many other states, consumer rights are strongly in their favor and protect them from unscrupulous dealerships. In order to get the full benefits afforded under the applicable laws, one needs the advice and guidance of a skilled attorney. At The Margarian Law Firm, our attorneys have been litigating dealer fraud cases for over a decade. If you suspect that you were a victim of dealer fraud call our office today. Take a stand against fraud. Remember how hard to worked to earn your money and do not let the dealer benefit by way of fraud. Hire one of our attorneys and take back what is rightfully yours.


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