What can my son do if he let a car salesman test drive his motorcycle to see what he would give him on a trade but the salesman wrecked it?

He was drunk but the police failed to put that in the police report as a matter of fact they didn’t do a report until 3 months later after I called them over and over. My son’s bike is totaled and we just want the money to cover it and other items that were broke. Do I need to call a lawyer or deal with the police?

Asked on July 11, 2014 under Accident Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The police do not help you get your money; they punish wrongdoers who violate the law. You can deal with them if you think the salesman should be arrested (e.g. for DUI, though you note that the police did not put that in the report, which may mean he gets off free from this), but if you want to recover the value of the motorcycle and other damaged or destroyed property, you'll have to sue him. If the total value (and remember: in terms of the motorcyle, you would be entitled to the then-current ("blue book") value, not the purchase price or replacement cost) is less than, say, $3,000, it's probably not cost effective to retain an attorney--you might spend more on the lawyer than you could recover. In that case, you should probably sue in small claims court, acting as your own lawyer. If the value is greater than $3,000, then you probably want to hire an attorney.



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