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  1. #1
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    Jun 2013
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    Angry Sued for Injuries Caused by the Driver of a Van I Sold

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: Washington
    In February 2012 I sold my van to some guy (I don't know him) who paid cash. I don't have experience selling cars so I just filled out the title where it said for the registered owner to sign and the amount I sold it for and the date. He gave me the money, I gave him the title and he drove off. My brother was there watching the transaction from inside the house (he was making sure I was ok with this strange guy). That same day, I called my insurance and told them I had sold the van and to take it off my policy. 2 months later, I moved from Washington to New York. In February 2013, I got a letter from an attorney in Seattle stating I was being sued because this man who bought my van hit someone in May of 2012. Apparently, he never registered the van and now he won't respond to the letters from the attorneys so they are coming after me because the van was still in my name. There was a police report filed at the scene of the accident against the guy who bought the van. I don't know whether he told the police it wasn't his van or he hadn't registered it or what. I received a summons and complaint in the mail (not certified) from the plaintiffs attorney stating because the van was in my name I was responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. I called the plaintiffs attorney and told her that I had sold the van to the guy and they should be contacting him not me. I wasn't driving or a passenger or even in the state. I had sold the van. I then answered the complaint saying I sold the van, I provided the copy of the bill of sale, a statement from my brother saying he was there when the van was sold, a copy of the email from the guy who bought the van when he inquired about it. I received a letter back from the plaintiffs attorney saying because I had not reported the sale to the state, I am responsible and that the guy driving the van told the police the brakes were bad so I sold a defective car on top of that. I had the brakes done before I sold the van (although I can't find the receipt and the company who did it is not computerized and does not keep copies of receipts and wouldn't give it to me even if they did because now they are afraid someone is going to come back after them for defective brakes). There is no lemon law in Washington state on used cars. All used cars are sold as is. There is no actual law that states a person is required by law to report the sale of a vehicle. It is just strongly suggested that the seller do that because they "may" be held liable. The plaintiffs attorney also says that they don't believe I sold the car because "it's too hard to drive a vehicle in the state of Washington when it isn't legally registered." That's bullshit too because in the state of Washington, there is no requirement to keep the license plates and registration stickers like there is in some states. For that reason it's easy as hell to ride around with anyone's license plates as long as they are not expired and you're not doing anything illegal. Still the plaintiffs attorney is coming after me stating I haven't provided proof of the sale. What do they want? A movie? The plaintiffs attorney claims the real guilty person "won't respond" to their letters. What have they done to find him? I am disabled. I live on 977.00 a month Social Security Disability. I am in Upstate New York. This case is in Washington State. I have no way to get there and no money for an attorney. What do I do? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,042

    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    In Washington state the first thing you should have done is report the sale. NEVER EVER give someone a vehicle without doing this for exactly the reasons you state.
    Frankly, even though it's permissible to transfer them in Washington state, I'd have pulled the tags off it. Just too much chance for abuse. While there is perhaps no LAW that requires it, the law would have protected you if you had done so within 5 days.

    If you don't respond to the suit, I can guarantee you will get a default judgement entered against you and it will be bad for you. You either need to continue badgering the plaintiff's attorney/insurance or get an attorney to represent you int he suit. As this point, you don't have any credible proof that you are not responsible for this. Civil cases are not tried "Beyond all reasonable doubt" like criminal cases, just a preponderance of the evidence.

    I'd be calling some lawyers out in the county involved seeing what they can do for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    16,951

    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    Stop taking legal advice from your enemy's lawyer. He will tell you anything to get you to cave in and send money.

    If you don't want to hire your own lawyer, then it's up to you if you want to ignore the lawsuit and let it go to default judgment.

    You are probably judgment proof which means that a judgment against you will just be an uncollectible worthless piece of paper if you have no attachable income or assets.

    Your SSDI is protected and exempt from judgment.

    If you want to go that route (up to you) I suggest telling the lawyer to F O and that he and his client will never see a nickel. Then don't talk to him ever again.

    Then the lawsuit won't cost you a penny.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2006
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    15,400

    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    In Washington state the first thing you should have done is report the sale. NEVER EVER give someone a vehicle without doing this for exactly the reasons you state.
    Frankly, even though it's permissible to transfer them in Washington state, I'd have pulled the tags off it. Just too much chance for abuse. While there is perhaps no LAW that requires it, the law would have protected you if you had done so within 5 days.

    If you don't respond to the suit, I can guarantee you will get a default judgement entered against you and it will be bad for you. You either need to continue badgering the plaintiff's attorney/insurance or get an attorney to represent you int he suit. As this point, you don't have any credible proof that you are not responsible for this. Civil cases are not tried "Beyond all reasonable doubt" like criminal cases, just a preponderance of the evidence.

    I'd be calling some lawyers out in the county involved seeing what they can do for you.
    I don't agree with this. The OP is living on SSDI...therefore the OP is uncollectable should a judgment be issued. In addition the OP HAS responded to the suit with proof of the sale..

    I then answered the complaint saying I sold the van, I provided the copy of the bill of sale, a statement from my brother saying he was there when the van was sold, a copy of the email from the guy who bought the van when he inquired about it.
    The attorney is obviously trying to bully anyone he/she can in order to get something for his client. I do not believe that its in the OP's best interest to spend money on an attorney when the OP is in uncollectable status and has responded to the suit with a copy of the bill of sale.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2013
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    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    I have called approximately 40 lawyers. Like I clearly stated in my initial post, I make 977.00 a month. I can't pay for the attorney to shine his shoes let alone represent me in a case. It's not like I have thousands of dollars packed away I'm saving for a new dress or vacation. I have no money. Every single one of the lawyers I called said, "good luck, I can't help you".

  6. #6
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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    Quote Quoting snowyegret
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    I have called approximately 40 lawyers. Like I clearly stated in my initial post, I make 977.00 a month. I can't pay for the attorney to shine his shoes let alone represent me in a case. It's not like I have thousands of dollars packed away I'm saving for a new dress or vacation. I have no money. Every single one of the lawyers I called said, "good luck, I can't help you".
    Again, if your only income is 977.00 a month from SSDI then your status is uncollectable. Even if the judge were to ignore the response that you sent (bill of sale proving that you sold the vehicle) and issue a judgment the party could not collect that judgment against you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    1,988

    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    if you defend yourself pro se, and lose and do get a judgement on you, just don't play lotto

  8. #8
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: They Can't Find the Guilty Party So They Are After Me

    You might have your license suspended out of this.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Sued for Injuries Caused by the Driver of a Van I Sold

    How badly were the accident victims injured, and how much money are they seeking?
    Quote Quoting snowyegret
    View Post
    In February 2012 I sold my van to some guy (I don't know him) who paid cash. I don't have experience selling cars so I just filled out the title where it said for the registered owner to sign and the amount I sold it for and the date. He gave me the money, I gave him the title and he drove off.
    The Washington attorney seems to be referencing your duties under Washington law, but your sale of a vehicle in New York is governed by New York law. That said, did you let this guy drive off with your plates, windshield registration sticker and inspection sticker?
    Quote Quoting snowyegret
    The plaintiffs attorney also says that they don't believe I sold the car because "it's too hard to drive a vehicle in the state of Washington when it isn't legally registered." That's bullshit too because in the state of Washington, there is no requirement to keep the license plates and registration stickers like there is in some states. For that reason it's easy as hell to ride around with anyone's license plates as long as they are not expired and you're not doing anything illegal.
    Are you telling us that you knew the buyer was driving around in a vehicle with your unexpired plates affixed to it? Why would you have allowed that?
    Quote Quoting llworking
    View Post
    I don't agree with this. The OP is living on SSDI...therefore the OP is uncollectable should a judgment be issued. In addition the OP HAS responded to the suit with proof of the sale.
    The comment about responding to the lawsuit was about filing an answer to prevent default. Contacting the plaintiff's lawyer and saying, "I'm not liable", is not the same as filing an answer with a court and does not prevent default.

    That said, it's not clear that the lawsuit has been properly served (first class mail alone would not ordinarily suffice, although I've not looked up Washington's rules at this point), and snowyegret would have possible defenses to any judgment obtained in Washington if it were registered for collection in New York.
    Quote Quoting llworking
    View Post
    Again, if your only income is 977.00 a month from SSDI then your status is uncollectable.
    As SSDI is not means tested, it's possible that snowyegret could have assets that a creditor could reach.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sued for Injuries Caused by the Driver of a Van I Sold

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    How badly were the accident victims injured, and how much money are they seeking?

    The Washington attorney seems to be referencing your duties under Washington law, but your sale of a vehicle in New York is governed by New York law. That said, did you let this guy drive off with your plates, windshield registration sticker and inspection sticker?

    Are you telling us that you knew the buyer was driving around in a vehicle with your unexpired plates affixed to it? Why would you have allowed that?

    The comment about responding to the lawsuit was about filing an answer to prevent default. Contacting the plaintiff's lawyer and saying, "I'm not liable", is not the same as filing an answer with a court and does not prevent default.

    That said, it's not clear that the lawsuit has been properly served (first class mail alone would not ordinarily suffice, although I've not looked up Washington's rules at this point), and snowyegret would have possible defenses to any judgment obtained in Washington if it were registered for collection in New York.

    As SSDI is not means tested, it's possible that snowyegret could have assets that a creditor could reach.
    That is true...the OP could possibly have assets that could be attached. However, based on the amount of SSDI the OP is receiving it does not appear that the OP earned a lot of money during their working lifetime. OP do you own anything more than a modest car and modest household goods?

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