What are my rights in Texas, Washington and Wisconsin, after a car repossession?
Go to our Texas Repossession Law, Washington Repossession Law, and Wisconsin Repossession Law pages, for the specifics in your state. In Texas and Washington, in order to get your car back, you will have to pay off the whole loan, not just your past due payments. In Wisconsin, you have a right to reinstate by paying your past due payments plus a “security deposit.” Of course, it is rare that a consumer can pay off the whole loan, when already behind in payments. However, if there was a breach of the peace, you can sue the lender and the repossession agency, possibly get your deficiency balance eliminated, and get your attorneys fees paid by them. You also have the right to get back your personal possessions in the vehicle.
What is a “breach of the peace?”
Here are some typical breaches of the peace: (1) entering a secured area (gated, fenced, or guarded) without the owner’s permission; (2) entering an underground parking garage by tricking the code or following a car in; (3) breaking any lock, door, or gate; (4) taking the car after an oral objection by the consumer, made before the car is hooked up; (5) damaging the vehicle during repossession; (6) blocking or lifting the vehicle while someone was in it; (6) any violence, pushing, or touching of the consumer; (7) making a public disturbance such as shouting, honking horns, or contacting neighbors; (8) moving other cars that were blocking the towed vehicle.
Go to our Texas Repossession Law, Washington Repossession Law, or Wisconsin Repossession Law pages, to see which laws apply where you live. There are substantial penalties available to consumers in all of these states for breaches of the peace — equal to the entire amount of interest charged under the loan contract, plus 10% of the principal. In Wisconsin, you can also get back all the money you already paid on the loan, plus title to the vehicle. Please call or email us for a free consultation if you identify a potential violation of your state’s repossession law.
I bought a car, I am current on my payments, and the car dealer is harassing me to sign a new contract. What do I do?
The dealer is doing this because they were unable to find a lender for your contract. That is not your problem, it is the dealer’s. If the dealer notified you within ten days of signing the contract that it wanted to cancel the transaction, then they are within their rights, and you should give the car back and get your down payment/trade-in back. But if the dealer waited more than ten days to notify you that they were canceling, you have the right to keep the car and make payments to the dealer (not any lender who may have been discussed). The dealer has no right to repossess your vehicle or harass you with phone calls, so give us a call if they do.
Are you bankruptcy attorneys?
No, we are consumer attorneys who specialize in suing lenders and repossession agencies for wrongful repossessions. We don’t think bankruptcy is a very good solution to having your car repossessed, and we want to keep our clients out of bankruptcy. If the lender or repossession agent broke the law, you could get your deficiency balance wiped out — without filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Do you work on a contingent fee?
Yes. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer protection laws allow us to get paid by the repossession agencies and lenders, upon winning the case. This means that if we accept your case, you will not have to pay any attorneys fees out of your own pocket. If you live in Texas or Wisconsin, you will not have to pay for litigation costs either, except out of any recovery. Washington law mandates that you remain liable for litigation costs, win or lose. But we will advance those costs, and, upon winning or settling, they come out of the recovery.
Is there a free consultation?
Yes. We offer a free phone consultation to do an initial review of your case. As explained above, if we accept the case, attorneys fees are contingent on success.
Are you experienced in enforcing the repossession laws?
Yes. We are one of the very few firms in the country who are very experienced in enforcing the repossession laws on behalf of consumers. This is a challenging niche practice, with a complex overlay of consumer statutes and common law. Mr. Trueblood, the principal of the firm, has been practicing for over 25 years and is a nationally known consumer attorney with over a billion dollars in settlements. For more details, please check out the Who We Are and Success Stories pages.