Can I be sued from a “buy here/pay here” car lot, if I a carbe repossessed bythe seller?

UPDATED: Oct 15, 2011

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Can I be sued from a “buy here/pay here” car lot, if I a carbe repossessed bythe seller?

I bought a car 4 years ago; 2 years later the engine blew up for the second time. I had the car towed to the repair shop. I then called the seller and told him I was done with the car and that he could come get it or have it towed to his lot. I didn’t hear anything. Then today, I got papers stating I’m being sued for not paying the car off. I haven’t had the car in my posession for 2 years. Can I fight this?

Asked on October 15, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

When a car is repossessed, it will be sold by the lender/dealer/etc. (whomever financed it) and the proceeds applied against the remaining balance of the loan or financing. If the loan is not fully paid off by doing this, the lender/seller has the right to sue for any unpaid amount. Since the car had a blown engine, it probably did not sell for much, so if there was still a balance on the loan when you gave the car up, it probably was not paid off by then repossessing and selling the car; that means that the seller may indeed sue you. (Just to reiterate: the seller taking the car back does NOT mean it can't sue you; it just means that the value of the car is applied against what you owe.)

In IL, someone can sue on a promissory note for up to 6 years after it was violated, and on a written contract up to 10 years. Therefore, whether the financing here was based on a promssory note or a contract/agreement, it would appear that you could be sued 2 years later.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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