If I recently bought a car from a private party that turned out to be a lemon, is there any way to get my money back?

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If I recently bought a car from a private party that turned out to be a lemon, is there any way to get my money back?

The seller lied about the condition of the car. A recent inspection revealed major frame damage among many other issues. The technician said he should report it to the authorities because it is unsafe to drive. The purchase took place on 07/08. It was inspected 07/16. Needless to say, the seller is not answering his phone. I dug around and found out that 300 miles ago the owner was told it needed a new engine. He declined and towed the vehicle away from the shop.

Asked on July 15, 2011 under General Practice, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the seller for the return of your money and/or for other costs you've incurred, such as repairs and testing and towing. You have two possile grounds under which to proceed:

1) Fraud--if the seller made material (or important) misrepresentations (or lies) to you to get you to buy the car, that is fraud, and fraud provides a basis for voiding a contract and getting money back, and/or seeking other compensation.

2) Breach of contract. You paid to get a working car that could be driven legally and safely; if you did not get that, the seller may have breached the "contract" or "agreement" of sale (even if it was only an oral or verbal one), giving you grounds for recovery.

If the amount of money is small (e.g. $1,500 or less), you may wish to represent yourself in small claims court. For larger arounds, you probably are best off retaining an attorney to represent you. Good luck.


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