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How to Sue a Car Dealership for Negligence in Maryland

What does it take to sue a car dealership in Maryland for intentional negligence?

In Maryland, as in other states, you can potentially sue a car dealership for negligence if their failure to exercise reasonable care in their actions or omissions leads to harm or damages. Here are common types of negligence claims that might be brought against a car dealership:

What Types of Negligence Can I Sue a Car Dealership For in Maryland?

Negligent Misrepresentation: This occurs when the dealership knowingly provides false information about a vehicle’s condition, history, or features, leading the buyer to make an uninformed purchase decision. If the dealership misrepresents a car’s history (e.g., accidents, previous damages) or certain qualities (e.g., saying a car is new when it is not), and this causes you financial harm, you may have a claim.

Failure to Disclose: Similar to negligent misrepresentation, this involves the dealership’s failure to disclose important information about the vehicle that a reasonable buyer would want to know before making a purchase. This can include not disclosing known defects or a vehicle’s lemon law history.

Negligent Maintenance or Repair: If a dealership’s service department negligently performs maintenance or repairs on your vehicle, causing your car to be unsafe or suffer further damage, you might have a claim. This also applies if they fail to properly inspect a car before selling it, leading to mechanical failures that should have been identified and addressed.

Breach of Warranty: While not strictly a negligence claim, suing for breach of warranty involves holding the dealership accountable for not honoring the express or implied warranties that come with a vehicle. This can include failing to repair a vehicle to meet specific standards or refusing to cover repairs under a warranty that should have been covered.

Fraudulent Practices: Engaging in deceptive practices such as rolling back odometers, selling salvaged vehicles without disclosure, or engaging in “bait and switch” advertising tactics. While this leans more towards intentional misconduct than negligence, it’s related in that it involves wrongful actions by the dealership.

Personal Injury: If the dealership’s negligence leads to a situation where you or someone else is physically injured—for example, if they sold you a car with known safety issues that were not disclosed, and you were injured as a result—you could sue for damages related to the injury.

Violations of Consumer Protection Laws: Many states have consumer protection laws that specifically address unfair and deceptive practices by car dealerships. While these claims may not always be framed as “negligence,” they can be related to holding the dealership accountable for harmful practices.

It’s important to note that pursuing a negligence claim involves proving certain elements: that the dealership owed you a duty of care, breached that duty through their actions or omissions, and that this breach directly caused your damages. Consulting with an attorney specializing in consumer protection or personal injury law can provide guidance specific to your situation and help you understand the viability of your claim, the potential damages you might recover, and the legal process involved.

How Long Do I Have To File a Lawsuit Against a Car Dealership in Maryland?

In Maryland, the statute of limitations—the time frame within which you must file a lawsuit—varies depending on the nature of your claim against a car dealership. Here’s a general overview of the relevant time limits for various types of claims that might be brought against a car dealership:

Contract Claims: If your lawsuit is based on a breach of contract (for example, if the dealership failed to honor a warranty or violated the terms of your purchase agreement), you typically have three years to file a lawsuit from the date the breach occurred, according to Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 5-101.

Personal Injury Claims: For lawsuits related to personal injuries (for example, if you were injured due to a defective vehicle sold by the dealership), the statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the injury, as per Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 5-101.

Property Damage: If your claim involves damage to your property (such as your vehicle), you also have three years from the date the damage occurred to file a lawsuit based on the same statute.

Fraud: Claims involving fraud, including fraudulent misrepresentation by the dealership, must generally be filed within three years from the date the fraud was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, as outlined in Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 5-203.

It’s important to note that specific circumstances might affect the statute of limitations for your case. For example, certain exceptions or tolling provisions can extend or pause the statute of limitations timeline under Maryland law. Because of these nuances and the potential for significant legal and financial consequences, consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after discovering the issue is advisable. An attorney can provide advice tailored to your situation, including an accurate assessment of the applicable statute of limitations and any steps you must take to preserve your right to sue.

What Damages Can I Recover by Suing a Negligent Car Dealership?

When suing a negligent car dealership in Maryland, the types of damages you may be able to recover depend on the specifics of your case, including the nature of the dealership’s negligence and the extent of your losses or injuries. Generally, damages in such cases can be categorized into several types:

Compensatory Damages: These are intended to compensate you for the direct losses you suffered due to the dealership’s negligence. Compensatory damages can be further divided into:

Economic Damages: Cover quantifiable losses such as repair costs, replacement costs if the car is a total loss, diminished value of the vehicle, medical expenses (if personal injury is involved), lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket costs directly related to the negligence.

Non-Economic Damages: Compensate for non-quantifiable losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other psychological harm that may result from personal injury.

Punitive Damages: While less common in negligence cases, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the dealership’s actions are found to be especially willful, malicious, or reckless. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant to prevent them from engaging in similar behavior. The availability and criteria for punitive damages can be stringent and are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Incidental Damages: These are expenses reasonably incurred in dealing with the consequences of the dealership’s negligence, such as renting a vehicle while your car is unusable or being repaired.

Consequential Damages: If the dealership’s negligence leads to additional losses that were a foreseeable result of their actions, you might be able to recover from these indirect consequences. For example, if the negligence led to a car breakdown that caused you to miss a significant business opportunity, those lost profits might be considered consequential damages.

Attorney’s Fees and Legal Costs: In some cases, you may also recover the costs of pursuing the lawsuit, including attorney’s fees, court costs, and other related expenses. This often depends on the specific statutes you’re using; some consumer protection laws, for example, allow for the recovery of legal fees.

The specific damages you’re entitled to will depend on the details of your case, including how the dealership’s negligence affected you personally and financially. It’s essential to keep detailed records of all your losses, expenses, and the impact on your life to substantiate your claim for damages. Consulting with an attorney experienced in consumer law, personal injury, or a car accident attorney practicing in Maryland can help you understand the types of damages available in your situation and how to pursue them effectively.

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 16th, 2024 at 9:10 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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