Consumer Law

What Rights Do I Have If My Car Was Repossessed?

Repossession of Car

Under Maryland law, if the car has not been repossessed before, you have a right to reinstate the loan. By reinstatement, we mean that you don’t have to pay all of the entire balance to the loan, you just need to bring the loan current and the creditor has to hang onto the car for 30 days after repossession before the vehicle can be sold. You have the right to do that and you have the right to know where the car is at. You also have the right to retrieve your goods from the car, and a right to notice of the sale which you have the right to attend and to bid, if you wish, if it’s a public auction. If it’s a private sale, you don’t have a right to bid but you still have a right to be advised of the date, time and place of the sale. In addition, you have a right to receive from the creditor a notice as to how the proceeds of the sale were applied. Also, if a suit is filed to recover a deficiency against you, there are a number of rights that you have in asserting your defense.

Will Debt Settlement Or Consolidation Help At All?

Consolidation may help if you have other debts and the creditor’s willing to participate in the consolidation plan. It’s unusual for companies that finance automobiles that they do that because that’s more common with credit cards. A debt settlement is something that you can do even after a lawsuit is filed. In Maryland, what happens is that when the case is filed, oftentimes the creditor will file with those a summons and complaint and a notice of intent to rely on business records. It signals that the creditor may be attempting to prove the case at trial without a witness by simply producing paperwork. One of the things that’s important if you get a summons in complaint that has a notice of intent to rely on business records is to get quickly to an attorney because you have a certain number of days, actually quite a short time, to respond to that notice of intent to rely on business records.

We always like to object to that because that puts the onus on the creditor to produce the witness at trial. However, the creditor may or may not attach to the paperwork and the notices that are required. If those notices aren’t attached, the other task that you want your attorney to do is file a civil request on the creditor for those notices along with some other information. That needs to be done fairly early on in the process in most deficiency judgment cases.

What Happens If I Am Late On Payments And The Creditor Wants To Repossess My Car?

If you can’t afford to bring your payment current, it depends on how far behind you are. If it’s the first month and there are some extenuating circumstances depending on the creditor, you may be able to make arrangements to split that payment or to miss a month and make up for it sometime in the next three to six months. That’s something that you might be able to accomplish, or you might need the assistance of an attorney. Sometimes you can contact the creditor and see if you can make some type of alternative arrangement. That’s certainly better than simply burying your head in the sand and hoping the creditor’s going to go away because that’s not going to happen. I’ve seen cases where there’s been a repossession after one delinquent payment, but that’s not usually the case. The only alternative or the only viable option you have is to call the creditor or have a representative call the creditor and try to work out what you can in lieu of the payment that is currently due.

Will Filing For Bankruptcy Stop The Repossession Of A Vehicle Or Property?

At least temporarily, yes. Whether it does that in the long run or not depends on the facts and circumstances of your bankruptcy. Usually with secured property, the creditor is going to be able to obtain permission from the bankruptcy court to proceed with the repossession of the property.

Can I Ever Get Back Any Property That Was Repossessed From Me?

There is a limited amount of time after the repossession of a vehicle to reinstate the loan. After that time passes, at any time before the vehicle’s sold, you can obtain possession of the property by paying the full amount of the loan due. So, there is a statutory period where you only have to pay the amount that’s past due and you’re entitled to have return of the property. Once that statutory period passes, there may be a number of days between the conclusion of that time and the time the car is sold where you could obtain possession of the car by paying off the full balance due on the loan.

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