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  1. #1
    shandramarie13 is offline Junior Member
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    Car I sold was never registered by new owner, who caused fatality last night.

    TN

    I sold a car over 4 months ago. I recieved a phone call from the local P.D. today telling me that my car had been involved in a fatal crash. This is because the man I sold it to never bothered to go get it registered. The police man I spoke with told me that medical bills and funeral costs could fall back on me. Two questions, 1. how is this fair and just law? 2. What do I do? How can I really be held responsible for his irresponsibility?
  2. #2
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Do you have a bill of sale? Did you notify the DMV of the title transfer?
  3. #3
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    Do you have a bill of sale? Did you notify the DMV of the title transfer?

    (I'm fairly certain OP didn't realize that it's her responsibility to notify DMV....)


    Of course, ignorance is no defense.
  4. #4
    shandramarie13 is offline Junior Member
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    Actually, Prosperina was right, I was totally ignorant on this matter because it was the first car I had ever sold. I kept no copies of the signed over title or anything, all I have is the two people who were there with me when it was sold. He paid in cash and the money was not deposited into any accounts.
  5. #5
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    proserpina, I cannot find anything that states the seller needs to report anything to the state when selling a car. any direction on finding that?

    I know in the two states I am involved, the seller does nothing when they sell a vehicle other than sign title and hand it to the buyer. I would prefer there would be some sort of official signing off of the title for the seller but there isn't.



    anyway,

    shandramarie:
    yes, you could find yourself in some deep stuff there. Especially since there was a fatality, I would suggest speaking with an attorney before you speak to anybody else, especially the police. Hopefully the guy you sold it to has the title with your signature as seller on it.
  6. #6
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    The red necked cop knows no more about Tennessee law on the subject than ecmst12 who totally unqualified has responded by typically avoiding the central issue; to-wit:

    Can you be held financially responsible? And the answer is NO, you are not financially responsible.

    Similar to other states under Tennessee law the owner of a motor vehicle is held vicariously liable for personal injuries and property damage resulting in the negligence use of the vehicle by a third party with the consent or implied consent of the owner Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-311.

    Clearly the operative words in that statute are OWNERSHIP OF THE VEHICLE!

    And although Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-312 states that proof of registration “shall be prima facie evidence of ownership of the motor-propelled vehicle by the person in whose name the vehicle is registered”

    The presumption of ownership can be overcomeby uncontradicted evidence to the contrary coming from witnesses whose credibility is not at issue”. Haggard v. Jim Clayton Motors, Inc., 393 S.W.2d 292, 294 (Tenn. 1965) As cited by the Tennessee Court of Appeals (2008) in the case of Gray vs. Mitzky, et al. Case No. M2007-01414-COA-R3-CV

    If you did in fact sell the vehicle to a non-family member and completely divested yourself of possession, control and ownership of the vehicle, you should have no difficulty producing credible evidence of the sale to overcome the statutory presumption of ownership.
  7. #7
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    proserpina, I cannot find anything that states the seller needs to report anything to the state when selling a car. any direction on finding that?

    I know in the two states I am involved, the seller does nothing when they sell a vehicle other than sign title and hand it to the buyer. I would prefer there would be some sort of official signing off of the title for the seller but there isn't.



    anyway,

    shandramarie:
    yes, you could find yourself in some deep stuff there. Especially since there was a fatality, I would suggest speaking with an attorney before you speak to anybody else, especially the police. Hopefully the guy you sold it to has the title with your signature as seller on it.

    (Admittedly my experience extends only to WA and ND where it is the seller's responsibility to inform the DMV of the title transfer)

    I do apologize - in assuming that (and yes, I should know better!) what happens in WA may happen elsewhere.
  8. #8
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by latigo View Post
    The red necked cop knows no more about Tennessee law on the subject than ecmst12 who totally unqualified has responded by typically avoiding the central issue; to-wit:

    Can you be held financially responsible? And the answer is NO, you are not financially responsible.

    Similar to other states under Tennessee law the owner of a motor vehicle is held vicariously liable for personal injuries and property damage resulting in the negligence use of the vehicle by a third party with the consent or implied consent of the owner Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-311.

    Clearly the operative words in that statute are OWNERSHIP OF THE VEHICLE!

    And although Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-312 states that proof of registration “shall be prima facie evidence of ownership of the motor-propelled vehicle by the person in whose name the vehicle is registered”

    The presumption of ownership can be overcomeby uncontradicted evidence to the contrary coming from witnesses whose credibility is not at issue”. Haggard v. Jim Clayton Motors, Inc., 393 S.W.2d 292, 294 (Tenn. 1965) As cited by the Tennessee Court of Appeals (2008) in the case of Gray vs. Mitzky, et al. Case No. M2007-01414-COA-R3-CV

    If you did in fact sell the vehicle to a non-family member and completely divested yourself of possession, control and ownership of the vehicle, you should have no difficulty producing credible evidence of the sale to overcome the statutory presumption of ownership.

    Was that really necessary? What are you, IAAL in disguise?
  9. #9
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by latigo View Post

    If you did in fact sell the vehicle to a non-family member and completely divested yourself of possession, control and ownership of the vehicle, you should have no difficulty producing credible evidence of the sale to overcome the statutory presumption of ownership.
    and that is the big question; can she prove she sold the vehicle? She has no receipt, no bank deposit of the money, the payment was cash. If the buyer is a stranger, it would go a long way to support the sale but that was not information provided here. So, all she has is a couple witnesses, (who are obviously biased) that she sold the car.

    due to that, OP should tread with guarded actions.

    and to speak disparagingly about ecmst12 for posting this:

    Do you have a bill of sale? Did you notify the DMV of the title transfer?
    which would go directly to support your statements. If there is a bill of sale or the sale was reported to the DMV (if necessary), it would overcome the presumption of ownership of the title being in the OP's name. Is that not what you said was required if the title/registration is still in the OP's name?

    why would you speak thusly when her post merely asked the questions which the answers of would prove the car was not still owned by the OP?
  10. #10
    shandramarie13 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank all of you so much for the advice. Yes the buyer was a stranger. I bought the car cheap and sold it cheap, when he went to register it, they tried to charge the percentage of the kelly blue book value instead of the percentage of what was paid for the car. He didn't want to pay that much so they told him to get a letter from me stating why I sold it so cheap (because it had been sandwiched in a wreck, front and back were totaled) He restores cars so he bought it. And I should have made a copy of that letter, I know that now, but I didn't. The police officer I spoke with today told me that the buyer told him that both the letter and title were in the car, but that they hadn't retrieved them yet. And I am a little worried over the fact that the buyer told the police he had only bought the car last week. He is lying to cover his tail on why he hasn't registered it yet, so I'm afraid he is going to try to get rid of the title and letter to cover his lie. What do I do in that case?
  11. #11
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    The questions were to see if OP has any EVIDENCE to prove the sale took place. She can still be sued and can incur significant costs for her defense.

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