Repo Nightmare: When Something Goes Wrong With a Repossession
Sept. 15, 2020
More than 5,400 vehicles are repossessed every day. While a lender has the legal right to repossess a vehicle when the owner fails to make timely payments, no one has the right to damage other property in the process. When that happens, you need to find an attorney to help you recover your damages and compensate for your losses.
The attorneys of Stecklein & Rapp have been providing tough, aggressive legal representation for hundreds of clients in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Colorado who suffered property damage at the hands of a lender or repossession company.
How the Nightmare Begins
We all know that if we don’t pay a lender what we owe when we owe it, that lender can repossess the car. Typically, the tow truck shows up, loads the vehicle, and drives away. But there are times when in the process, other property gets damaged. And neither the lender nor the towing agent wants to take responsibility.
A case in point is the story about a man who owned two cars, one outright and the other through a lender. He missed a payment. He’d missed them before and always caught up, so while he knew the lender could repossess the car, he didn’t expect it to.
One night, he had both the cars parked in his yard behind a locked gate because his neighborhood was a little sketchy. While out with friends, a tow truck driver used bolt cutters to cut the chain securing the gates and found the car he came to repossess parked in front of the owner’s other car.
The tow operator dragged the other car into the street, scraping the side of it on the gatepost in the process. He then loaded the lender’s car and drove away, leaving the other car in the street. The city then had that vehicle towed to an impound yard.
The man was now faced with extensive damage to his owned car and being forced to pay outrageous towing fees and penalties to the city. While the lender might have been legally entitled to repossessing its vehicle, it had no right to cause the other financial damages. He hired an attorney and successfully sued both the lender and the towing company.
What the Law Requires for Repossessions
The law requires four actions when a lender exercises its legal right to car repossession:
Agents must inform the local police of their intent to repossess the vehicle.
Agents may not “breach the peace” in taking a vehicle. In the case of the preceding story, violating the law by leaving the other vehicle in the street.
Agents may not damage personal property.
The lender must send the former owner full and proper notice immediately after the repossession and again after any auction or sale of the vehicle.
After repossession, there are several legal options you can take to keep car repossession from damaging your life.
You can get the car back by redeeming the loan. That means you pay off the entire loan balance plus any interest, penalties, fees, and the lender’s cost of repossession. Or, you might get the lender to agree to reinstate the loan by catching up on missed payments and penalties and keeping payments current.
If your car is repossessed, you have defaulted on a loan and that damages your credit rating. If the repossession action was inaccurate, you need to get it removed from your credit report. If it wasn’t, you can try negotiating with the lender to catch up and keep up with payments.
Furthermore, if you suffered other damages in the repossession process, you can sue the lender and tow agent for damages.
How Experienced Legal Counsel Can Help With Your Case
Having your car repossessed is tough if it’s your sole source of transport. Repossession can ruin your credit which takes you time to rebuild. And even worse, you could sustain thousands of dollars in damages to your other property. You can fight back, but you need a tough and knowledgeable attorney to help. You can bet the lender and the towing agent have legal representation, and so should you.
Don’t just call any attorney. At Stecklein & Rapp we’ve helped hundreds of clients whose vehicles have been repossessed. If you live in Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas, Lincoln, Nebraska, or Colorado, don’t wait. Call today to start a conversation about your legal rights and your lender’s responsibilities.