Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles After Recent Hurricanes

Categories: Lemon Law

In recent years, many drivers in southern California have been swindled into buying flood-damaged cars. You might think when you look at the vehicle that it is immaculate. A flood-damaged vehicle may look perfect on the outside, but after a few weeks or months, expensive problems may start to surface.

After the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, consumer advocates are warning that southern California consumers should be watching out for flood-damaged vehicles hitting dealer lots. Experts estimate that Hurricane Harvey that hit the Houston area may have damaged up to one million vehicles. This is at least double the number affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Cars today can be even more affected by flooding than vehicles of a generation ago, according to John Van Alst, a lawyer for the National Consumer Law Center. He noted recently that modern cars are full of computers and electronics. When water floods the engine compartment or passenger cabin, many systems can be seriously damaged.

Neale & Fhima personal injury attorneys frequently represent clients who purchased a flood-damaged or ‘lemon’ vehicle. If you are paying through the nose to fix a vehicle you recently purchased, please give us a call today: 949-661-1007.

Tips for Buying a Car After Floods and Hurricanes

Are you planning to buy a used car? Experts advise that you should follow a few simple tips to ensure that you do not end up with a water-ravaged disaster-on-wheels.

First, do not assume that just because recent hurricanes did not directly affect Los Angeles or Southern California, used car buyers are safe in these parts. Used cars can be shipped into California from across the country, including flood-ravaged areas in Texas and Florida.

All cars have a vehicle history report that you can check before you buy. Most states require the report to state whether the car was flooded or wrecked. With the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, it is easy to check the history of the vehicle with these resources:

  • National Insurance Crime Bureau
  • Car Fax
  • National Motor Vehicle Title Information Center.

Checking with those sources may reveal whether the car has suffered any type of severe damage. But don’t stop there.

It also is critical to have the car inspected before you buy. Not everyone is honest about whether their car has been wrecked or flooded. Some dishonest people will even run out to sell their vehicle before flood or salvage title shows on their vehicle report.

Stuck With a Lemon? You Still Have Hope.

If you have bought a damaged car, truck or SUV, you may find hope in the Lemon Law passed by the California State Legislature. In this state, a car is deemed a ‘lemon’ according to the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act if, within 18 months of buying the vehicle, any of the following occur:

  • Two or more attempts were made by the manufacturer to repair the car if there was a defect that could result in severe injury or death.
  • The manufacturer tried to repair the same problem at least four times.
  • The car has been inoperable and out of service for 30 days or more to fix the problem.
  • Problems with the vehicle are not due to any abuse you caused.

One challenge with a flood-damaged vehicle is that it often is outside the manufacturer warranty period. If you suspect your vehicle has been damaged by flood waters, you may want to speak to a Southern California attorney to determine whether you can file a lawsuit against the entity that sold you what might be a lemon.

Did You Purchase A Flood-Damaged Vehicle?

Neale & Fhima is an experienced personal injury law firm serving Southern California, with offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. Our attorneys are experienced in assisting motorists who may have purchased a ‘lemon’ or a flood-damaged vehicle. If you think that you may have bought a vehicle with flood damage, please call 949-661-1007. Or, you can complete the contact form below, and we will get back with you shortly.