Can I Recover Money if My Car Has Been Wrongfully Repossessed?
Wrongful Repossession and Damages
Debtors are protected.
A consumer who is aggrieved by a finance company who has improperly or wrongfully repossessed an automobile has various avenues for recovery against a finance company or repossession company. Obviously, the Uniform Commercial Code permits recovery of all actual losses or consequential losses associated with a wrongful repossession. This means that if the consumer loses an actual amount of money, is caused to incur medical bills or have a specific out-of-pocket expense, this would be a permissible claim under either the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act or the Uniform Commercial Code. As an example, if a repossession company damaged the plaintiff’s vehicle which needed repairs, breached the peace, caused the plaintiff to miss a certain amount of work or damaged the plaintiff’s property, this would be a specific consequential loss for which the Uniform Commercial Code would permit recovery. In addition, this could potentially be a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and an ascertainable loss for which recovery would be permitted.
The Uniform Commercial Code also contemplates certain statutory, automatic, damages to permit a consumer to recover if a repossession is inappropriate or deemed a wrongful repossession. The most serious of these damages would be the amount of the finance charges plus a 10% penalty assessed against the finance company. These types of statutory damages are available under certain violations of the Uniform Commercial Code. In addition, there are also certain statutory penalties in the amount of $500 under the Uniform Commercial Code for the finance company’s violation or improper repossession. This is in addition to the amounts previously set forth or actual and consequential damages associated with an inappropriate or wrongful repossession.
The Uniform Commercial Code and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act provide remedies to those who have been a victim of improper or deceptive repossession of their automobile. There can be statutory damages plus there can be damages which can be measured by demonstrating an ascertainable loss. The theory underlying a wrongful repossession and damages under the Consumer Fraud Act are likened to conversion. I like to make the claim that the vehicle was taken and in essence stolen by the finance company in the repossession agent. Under the circumstances the claim is that the value of the vehicle at the time of the repossession is the value of the loss or the ascertainable loss which can be recovered under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act or under numerous other theories in New Jersey law, including conversion.
You have rights under the Uniform Commercial Code and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The Appellate Division has held that the Consumer Fraud Act applies to the wrongful repossession of automobiles. Thus if you can demonstrate an ascertainable loss directly related to the deceptive conduct of the one for repossession then you can make a claim under New Jersey law for that ascertainable loss and the can be tripled and attorney’s fees and costs can be added.