Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in Washington

I sold a car on payments a month before i went to afghanistan, i leave here in 30 days. The guy has not payed me since ive been here (8 months). The bank still ownes the car, and I did not know I couldnt sell it if the bank still ownes it. He still has my car, and the money still comes out of my check every month for it. So basically my question is where do I go from here? I didnt know i couldnt sell it cause i didnt own it, but i did, and have a writen contract between me and him, saying he will pay me $500 a month for 12 months, and he hasnt payed me and still has my car. The car is still in my name. What do I do? i really appreciate you answe5ring my question

Asked on 6/24/13, 6:26 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

In your case, since you sold the car without the right to do so, I assume no title has transferred since the DOL would stop the transaction from going through without proof that the lien holder (your bank) has been paid off. On that basis alone, the contract can be voided.

Even if the contract could not be voided, and let's assume it's a valid contract, since you have a written contract calling for $500 per month to be paid for 12 months, and no payments have been received to date, then the buyer is in default and it seems to me your remedy is to have the car returned to you as well is seeking monetary damages for those months when the buyer had the car and you were denied access to the car.

Unfortunately, the way to go about taking care of this is to sue the buyer. I am going to take a wild guess that your contract does not provide for repossession in the event of failure to pay. Without that, I would not try to repossess the car without a court order allowing for it. Since you are leaving in 30 days, my suggestion to you would be to hire an attorney, let them draft the summons and complaint and have it served on the buyer and see what can be done to return the car to you right away. You could offer to forego seeking damages provided you get the car back.

I know this will not be cheap for you, and in a sense, this will be a very expensive lesson for you to learn, but as far as I can tell, it's the only real way you can get your car back anytime soon. I would move as quickly as possible to make sure that the buyer does not damage the car in any way. I gather if he does not have the money to pay you, he's probably also not taking care of the car, nor does he have money to pay any monetary judgment you might obtain. In other words, if he destroys the car and you win a judgment against him, the odds of collecting will be very difficult whereas getting possession of the car would make things much easier for you, especially if it's in good shape.

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Answered on 6/24/13, 3:00 pm

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