hurricane damaged vehicles in flooded street

One of the lesser-known consequences of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma is the thousands of flood-damaged vehicles that could find their way into used car lots. According to news reports, vehicles damaged by hurricanes can very easily surface in the used car market. Car experts such as John Paul, who is known as AAA’s “Car Doctor” says that even if the car has been cleaned up and seems to run fine, a month or a year from now, the corrosion can build up and damage the electrical and computer systems in the vehicle. This very dangerous situation has the potential to affect a wide range of people and may lead to future defective automobile lawsuits, as well as MA car accident lawsuits.

What You Need to Know

used car lot selling hurricane damaged vehicles

You may ask if it is legal to sell a flood-damaged vehicle. The answer is “yes” – as long as the damage is disclosed on the title. However, Paul says many consumers often have no idea they are purchasing a vehicle that was underwater because there is no disclosure or obvious signs of damage. It might be a car or owner that doesn’t have auto insurance.

If the car is ruined and someone comes to the owner and offers to buy it, it’s essentially a clean title. It is estimated that up to 500,000 vehicles could have been totaled as a result of Hurricane Harvey. That number is sure to increase with the devastation of Hurricane Irma. So, consumers may have to do some research to make sure you don’t get stuck with one of these vehicles.

How Can I Avoid This Issue?

There is no question that these vehicles will be sent throughout the United States, including the New England area, to sell to unsuspecting consumers. Here are a few tips to avoid buying one of these flood-damaged vehicles:

  • car buyer checking the vehicle identification numberDo your homework. The best way to do this is to get the vehicle identification number (VIN), which is located on the driver’s side dashboard near the window and on the driver’s side door. This number will allow you to check the history of a used vehicle. For example, for a small fee, the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) offers information about a vehicle’s title, odometer data and damage history. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other vehicular information. You can also run similar checks through AutoCheck and CarFax.
  • Inspect the vehicle including an inspection of the body and underbody, the trunk, seats and flooring for any possible sign of water damage. One indication is if you smell moldy or musty odors.
  • Be sure to test-drive the vehicle. While driving, carefully check the brakes, steering and gear shifting. Listen to the engine for any noises. Also, test the windshield wipers, radio components and other electrical options to make sure they work.

Call d’Oliveira & Associates!

MA car accident lawyer meeting injured clientIf you are injured in a car accident that is caused by a defective vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Injured victims may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, and pain and suffering. The personal injury law firm of d’Oliveira & Associates works with experienced auto defect lawyers around the country. Fill out a contact form online or call us toll-free at 1-800-992-6878 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.