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Vehicle Repossession Accidents

Vehicle Repossession Accidents and Injuries

Each year, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million vehicles are repossessed in the United States. These repossessions are often carried out by unlicensed agents, without a court order or the involvement of law enforcement officials. Each day, these so-called “Repo Men,” who may or may not have criminal records, use violence and threats to repossess vehicles, with deadly consequences.


Automobile repossession, or “repo,” occurs when an agent of your creditor apprehends your vehicle because you have defaulted on your loan. What constitutes default depends on your contract, but it usually means that you failed to make a payment on time.


  • An estimated 1.5 to 2 million vehicles are repossessed in the U.S. every year.
  • In 33 out of 50 states, no special license is needed to carry out repossessions.
  • From 2006-2009, six deaths, three accidental child abductions, and more than two dozen injuries occurred during repossessions (National Consumer Law Center).
  • 2009- Atlanta, Georgia– A woman was run over by a repo truck driver as she attempted to verify paperwork that authorized him to tow her son’s car. When she tried to stop the driver to obtain the documents she was struck by the truck’s mirror, fell down, and was run over.
  • 2009- Cleveland, Ohio– A woman carrying her 1-year-old was dragged several blocks after being run over by a repo driver as she attempted to stop him from towing her car. He ended up driving away with the woman’s other child, 4-years-old, asleep in the backseat.
  • 2011- Chino Hills, California– A woman sustained fatal injuries as she stood in front of her car in an attempt to keep it from being repossessed. The tow truck driver reportedly thought she had moved out of the way and went on with the repo, crushing the woman between his truck and her car.

While it may be legal for creditors to repossess your vehicle, they are not allowed to commit a “breach of the peace” to do so. This means that repo agents cannot:

  • Break into your house
  • Enter a closed garage
  • Pretend to be a law enforcement officer
  • Stop you on the street or highway to repossess your vehicle
  • Forcibly remove you from your vehicle
  • Create a disturbance (fight or other altercation)
  • Threaten you or your family

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “should there be a breach of the peace in seizing your car, your creditor may be required to pay a penalty or to compensate you if any harm is done to you or your property.”


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