Vehicle Repossession Accidents
REPRESENTING VICTIMS INJURED BY REPO MEN
Vehicle repossession, or repo, is when a creditor or lessor take back your car, usually after defaulting on a loan or lease, such as failing to make car payments. What constitutes as a default may depend on the language of the contract that was signed. In many cases, creditors or lessors are able to repossess your vehicle without going to court or giving you a warning.
These companies send agents, dubbed “repo men,” to reacquire these vehicles and ultimately resell the vehicle to eliminate the remaining debt. Problems sometimes occur when repo men attempt to repossess a vehicle. There have been many cases of injuries, accidental kidnappings, and deaths associated with repossessions gone wrong. Companies may be liable if a repossession violates the rights of the individual.
In the process of repossessing a vehicle, creditors and their repo agents may not “breach the peace.” This may involve using physical force, verbal threats, or taking the car from a locked garage or area without permission. If a creditor or repo man has committed a breach of the peace, victims may be entitled to compensation for damages done to their person or property.
According to the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), there has been a rapid increase of untrained, uninsured, and criminal element introduced into the repossession industry. Unfortunately, this can put people at risk of being injured
FACTS ABOUT VEHICLE REPOSSESSION INCIDENTS
Here are some facts regarding vehicle repossession in the United States:
- Including all types of repossession, more than three million repossessions occur each year in the United States.
- There were 54 serious incidents involving repo men between 2007 and 2009, including incidents of dangerous driving or using the car as a weapon, injuries, gun shots or threatening with a gun, fire, deaths, children under the age of nine taken, physical assaults, knife attacks or threats, or impersonations of police.
- Within this time period, six deaths, three accidental kidnappings, and more than two dozen injuries occurred during repossessions.
- Self-help repossessions are legal in all 50 states.
- No special license is required to carry out a repossession in 33 out of 50 states.
DID A REPO MAN COMMIT A “BREACH OF THE PEACE?”
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.”
INJURIES CAUSED BY VEHICLE REPOSSESSION
Severe, life-altering, and fatal injuries can occur from repossession accidents, including:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Torn ligaments
- Cuts and lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord and back damage
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED VEHICLE REPO ACCIDENT AND INJURY LAWYER
If you or a loved one have been injured or affected by a vehicle repossession agent, or repo man, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced accident and injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call and discuss your claim. Call us today for a free case review. You have rights, and when a repo man violates those rights and causes injuries to you or your family, you may be entitled to compensation.