What Are My Rights If My Car Was Repossessed?
NJ Car Repossession Lawyer Explains Your Options
If you fall behind on your car payments in New Jersey, then the bank, credit union or finance company may be able to repossess your vehicle. However, you still have rights under New Jersey consumer protection laws. For example, you have a right to be notified of the sale of the car, allowing you to buy it back or ensure that the financer does not sell it for less than its value. However, many companies ignore these requirements or issue deficient notices that do not meet standards required by state laws. In these cases, you may be able to file suit against the finance company and recover compensation for finance charges and other damages.
The attorneys at Keefe Law Firm represent car owners in claims against finance companies that violate consumer fraud laws. If your bank or credit union takes your vehicle and fails to send you any further notices, then call a car repossession lawyer from our law firm. Alternative, if you receive a notice of resale, then bring it with you to a free initial consultation at our offices. In either case, we can explain your rights according to New Jersey laws and assist you in filing a claim. We have extensive experience with consumer fraud cases, including the successful representation of a class action, the settlement value of which was an estimated $3 billion for consumers.
What Are My Rights If My Car Is Repossessed?
Finance companies have a right to repossess vehicles and other financed property if you fall behind on your payments. Usually, the company does not have to notify you of the repossession, unless your contract specifies otherwise. However, New Jersey law does have specific requirements that apply if the company then wishes to sell your vehicle or property to recover the amount you still owe. Before such a sale may take place, the finance company must notify you of:
- The method of disposition. In other words, the company must tell you whether the sale is public or private.
- The time and place, in the event of a public sale. This gives you the opportunity to attend the sale to redeem your vehicle and/or ensure that the company does not sell it for less than fair market value. This is important because, if the vehicle sells for less than the amount of your outstanding debt, you may face a deficiency claim. If this claim is successful, then you may have to pay the difference even after the sale of your car.
- The amount of your outstanding debt. The notice must also advise you of your right to see the full account of your unpaid debt and provide contact information if you have further questions.
- Your right to redeem your vehicle at any time prior to the resale. You can pay the amount of your delinquent debt and reclaim your car before the company sells it.
If your bank or credit union fails to provide notice or omits any of this information, then you may be able to file a claim under several New Jersey laws.
When Can I File a Lawsuit for Car Repossession?
Many finance companies use the same defective forms to notify lessees of resales, leaving out crucial information. In some cases, a company may fail to send a notice at all, and may then file a deficiency claim. However, you have rights as a consumer under multiple New Jersey laws, including:
- Universal Commercial Code (UCC). New Jersey’s UCC contains extensive requirements concerning auto repossessions. It also includes specific remedies depending on the violation. These range from $500 to the purchase value of your vehicle, including finance charges. A car repossession lawyer can explain these complex regulations and determine what compensation may be available to you.
- New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). This state law provides extensive protections for consumers that many other states do not offer. According to the CFA, a finance company can be accountable for losses due to misrepresentations, knowing omissions and/or violations of laws like the Uniform Commercial Code. Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, if the court determines that the finance company committed consumer fraud, then you can collect triple the amount of damages. Additionally, you can often collect attorney fees separately.
In many cases concerning unlawful repossession and defective resale notices, both of these laws apply. If your car is repossessed and sold, then you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Even if you received a notice, you may still have grounds for a claim, as these notices are often defective and in violation of the UCC.
Questions About Your Options After a Repossession? Call Our Law Firm Now
At Keefe Law Firm, our consumer fraud attorneys offer free initial consultations so that you can learn your rights. During a consultation, we can examine your situation and any documents you received from the finance company, bank or credit union. If you have grounds for a claim, then we can represent your best interests. If applicable, then we can also advise you of any class action proceedings which may benefit you.
We have offices throughout New Jersey, including in Red Bank, Newark, Point Pleasant and Bayonne. However, we can travel to meet you anywhere that is convenient. Call (866) 575-5000 or contact us online today to discuss your car repossession and your legal options.