If someone fails to make timely car payments, they may face repossession. The company ordering a repossession does not need a court order to do this. But they must do it legally. State by state, the rules vary. Definitions of auto loan contracts usually say the financing company has the right to take their car back and auction it off to help settle the debt, leaving the consumer without transportation. Regretfully, this action is on the rise. Recent statistics estimate over 2 million consumers annually will experience auto repossession.
But could some be wrongful repossessions? Certainly.
This is where our wrongful repossession lawyers come in. If a company violates your rights while repossessing or attempting to repossess your vehicle, we can help you sue for wrongful repossession.
Potential Illegal Vehicle Repossession
One mistake that may constitute illegal vehicle repossession is called a breach of the peace. Even though a failure to make payments can trigger a repossession, the company must still obey the law. Generally, a breach of peace prohibits them from engaging in conduct likely to cause a disturbance or violence. Some common tactics used by repossession agents are as follows:
- Starting an auto repossession if the consumer objects. Anything stated that indicates the objection is all that is needed, and the repo man legally must stop. They may restart the process at a different time, but the agent has no protection from the law if he continues the repo.
- Breaking into a locked garage or secured yard. Damaging property to take the vehicle, such as doors, fences, or locks, is illegal. Repo agents can cross over into criminal trespassing if this happens. In some cases, they may even face prosecution if they slip up and decide to gain entry in these ways without your permission.
- Traffic laws make it illegal to have a passenger in towed vehicles. This practice may violate more than just the motor vehicle law. Hooking up to an occupied vehicle can be charged as battery, and moving that vehicle may be considered kidnapping.
- Verbal threats of force or methods to incite fear of consequences. If an agent finds it difficult to retrieve the vehicle, they may resort to threatening the owner with fear tactics or even lose control and escalate to physical or other forms of violence. If heightened tempers cause a possible breach of peace, the agent must stop the repossession.
- Repo without legal warning. Many states require the right to cure, which gives a buyer a grace period to catch up on payments before starting a repossession. Some states require dealers to send a written notice to a buyer whose loan is in default, detailing the right to cure and explaining how it works.
Obviously, in most attempts of vehicle repossession, a company will attempt to take a vehicle when no one is present and without warning, such as while the consumer is asleep, at work, or busy away from the property. Out of frustration, occasionally, the repossession agent does not want to wait for the consumer to leave the vehicle unattended or cannot access the car without help from the consumer.
In such a situation, the repo agent may try to have the owner give them access to the vehicle or give them the keys so that they can drive the vehicle away rather than tow it. If there isn’t an agreement, arguments can also lead to a breach of the peace.
The Police Cannot Assist With a Repossession
Proper communication with the police is necessary to ensure the police do not mistake a repo agent for a car thief, which could result in a dangerous encounter between both parties, leading to a misinformed arrest or even accidental shooting.
While notifying the police can prevent mistakes, police cannot be involved in or aid a repossession.
Police protect the citizens and keep the peace. It is not their responsibility to help with a repossession. No matter what a company’s agent or law officer believes to be proper judgment, there is no place for the police to assist in opening doors or granting access to a repo man. It is illegal.
State by state, the rules vary. But the laws are in your favor in many cases, and a repo man can’t fight you verbally or physically. A peaceful repossession is not easy to accomplish. In many states, you need only refuse, and they have to change course.
Take the power back into your hands. Talk to us about your case and see if you have grounds to sue.
Your Potential Wrongful Repossession Settlement
Your wrongful repossession attorney can fight for fair compensation if you are the victim of an illegal car repossession. You may qualify for statutory damages up to $1,000 in addition to compensation for your actual losses.
We can guide you through every step of the legal process. A wrongful repossession lawsuit can be complex, but with us on your side, you can focus on other important matters in your life while we pursue what you deserve.
Losing a Vehicle to Wrongful Repossession Can Greatly Interrupt Your Life
Illegal repossession has many consequences for those affected. When you wake up to find your vehicle gone, your problems have usually just begun.
Without transportation, you may be unable to get to work. This could lead to job loss, putting further financial strain on your family. Additionally, if you experience an emergency, you may find it difficult to cope without a car. For example, if your area has to evacuate due to severe weather or you have a medical emergency, you may find yourself in a dangerous position.
None of these consequences concern the repossession agents when they illegally seize your car. But you may have grounds to turn the tables on them and pursue legal action. A wrongful repossession lawyer from our team can review your case and help make things right so you can get back on track with your life.
Protect Your Rights From Illegal Vehicle Repo
If an agent repossessed your vehicle by any of these methods, they may have violated your rights. We will help you understand your rights and determine if you have a wrongful repossession case.
Fill out the form on our contact page or call the offices of Sue the Collector at 877-BAD-REPO to schedule a FREE consultation on your case.