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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Galveston, TX
    Posts
    2

    Default Stolen Vehicle Recovered, but Seized Due to Stolen Vehicle Claim by a Prior Owner

    My question involves insurance law for the state of: Texas

    I purchased an out-of-state (Chicago, IL) Harley Davidson motorcycle from an individual 17 years ago (1995). I promptly took the signed title to the tax assessor in Texas and had it titled in my name. Last month it was stolen from me, and I reported it to the police. The police subsequently recovered the motorcycle.

    One would think this was good news, but the authorities have ceased the motorcycle! During their investigation to recover my Harley the police found that the bike appears to have been previously reported as stolen and an insurance claim was paid on it. This is now pending an ownership hearing in court. The insurance company will be sending one of their representatives to the hearing.

    My questions…
    1. Since I successfully transferred the title 17 years ago is there anything like ‘Adverse Possession’ of a vehicle?
    2. If, after selling the motorcycle to me, the previous owner himself reported it stolen to collect on a fraudulent claim, can the insurance company still pursue ownership rights from me?
    3. This was transferred to me legally, I have paid the registration on it for 17 years, and I have even received traffic tickets on it over the years… How is it possible that is now showing up as stolen?
    4. Is there ANYTHING that I can do to prevail against the prior insurance company and retain my ownership? (This is especially distressing as I have spent 10’s of thousands of dollars on modifications)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Stolen Vehicle Recovered, but Seized Due to Stolen Vehicle Claim by a Prior Owner

    Adverse possession of personal property (chattel)? In Texas, it appears that "The running of the statutory period begins when the person in possession asserts a claim of ownership and brings notice of that claim to the attention of the person who owns the personal property", so the statute of limitations has not yet started to run (or only recently started if the prior owner has been notified).

    If the former owner gave ownership of the motorcycle to his insurance company in the event of recovery, in order to obtain a settlement, the insurance company would still have a claim.

    We have no way of knowing what happened 17+ years ago.

    If the prior owner and insurance company are located and become involved, you can see what claims they make and what you might be able to do to resolve their claims.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Galveston, TX
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Stolen Vehicle Recovered, but Seized Due to Stolen Vehicle Claim by a Prior Owner

    The Texas police department that ceased the motorcycle has told me that the insurance claim was made in 2003. I've held the title since 1995 (the Harley was manufactured in 1990). How is it possible in today’s world that the authorities never notified me or the prior owner of a theft claim made in 2003, especially if the claim was made while I was the titleholder? Secondly, if the insurance company prevails, do I stand to lose all of my investment in this bike? Thanks for your welcomed help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Stolen Vehicle Recovered, but Seized Due to Stolen Vehicle Claim by a Prior Owner

    When you attend the hearing, showing you have legal title should not be a problem, assuming the person claiming the theft, legally transferred it and it was not under lien. They then committed fraud.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,666

    Default Re: Stolen Vehicle Recovered, but Seized Due to Stolen Vehicle Claim by a Prior Owner

    I suspect that the VIN number was entered into a database incorrectly. Have the insurance company contact there insured (at the time) and confirm the VIN number.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

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