Is a dealership liable for failing to disclose “structural damage” to me?

UPDATED: Feb 14, 2012

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Is a dealership liable for failing to disclose “structural damage” to me?

I purchased a 6 year old car from an auto center” a year ago for $9,499; I still owe about $8,200. We found out this weekend that the car had been prior structural damage from an accident according to a carfax where we were going to trade it in at. We’ve been told that the car is worth significantly less than book value due to the “unknown” extent of the damage. Specifically, an estimate of $3,500 value. Is the auto center liable for failure to disclose the damage (and the hugely reduced value)? The bank doesn’t know either.

Asked on February 14, 2012 under General Practice, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the dealership that you purchased the car from knew that it had structural damage or other problems before you purchased it and failed to disclose this to you, then the dealership "concealed" important information from you.

The challenge is for you to prove that the dealership had the knowledge that you are writing about before you bought the vehicle.

Your damages would be the difference between the fair market value of the car when purchased and what you paid for it if you can prove liability. You might consider making a complaint against the dealership with your state's department of motor vehicles in that in many states, this entity regulates car dealerships and responds to consumer complaints regarding them.

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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