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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33398
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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My step sister was involved in a 1 car accident involving a

Customer Question

My step sister was involved in a 1 car accident involving a deer on private property adjacent to a county road. She had called a wrecker service to remove the car from the private property. She was away from the car when the police showed up and apparently, they called a wrecker that got there first. That wrecker towed the car without my step sister's or father's knowledge (my father owns the car). He took the car to his salvage yard and proceeded to cut the car up - again without anyone's knowledge or approval - so the insurance company can't even do a review to determine if the car would be totaled or if it was salvageable. Now the wrecker services is wanting my father to bring the title to the car, give it to them, and they'll give my father whatever money the insurance pays for the tow. Is this allowable by law in West Virginia? I've told my father not to sign anything or accept any offers until we can investigate further. I've done a quick check of the car's value on Kelly's Blue Book and it looks like the care was worth approximately $1,400.00 Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

How long after the wreck did they cut the car up?

Did they provide any information on why they thought they had the authority to do so?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe it was 2 - 3 days after towing the car that it was cut up. This wreck only happened in the last couple of days. I don't believe they explained to my father why the cut up the car. That, and the fact that they are trying to get the title out of him so quickly, makes me suspicious that they knew they messed up. They're hoping my father will take the tow money and that will be the end of this.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

They definitely aren't allowed to do that since they don't own the car at that point. There are some instances, ex. the car had been there for six months with no contact, where they could take ownership under a specific kind of lien, but it takes considerably longer to do that than a few days or even a few weeks.

What additional questions can I assist with?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think my father needs to pursue this further - do you know if it might be better to take this to small claims court of contact the Consumer Protection agency in our state? I did tell my father not to give them the title or agree to anything until we got a little more info. Thank you!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My step-mother happened to see the cut up car in the wrecker yard when she drove past the place the day after the wrecker cut up the car. That was the only way they knew it had been destroyed.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

It would be better to contact a local lawyer rather than going directly to small claims court because this is going to have an effect on the insurance claim as well. The lawyer will tell you whether it is a suitable case for small claims or whether you should go to a higher court and include the insurance company in the lawsuit. Since the car was destroyed before the extent of damages could be determined the case is likely to be too complicated for small claims court.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

You can certainly report them to the state agencies but I've never found them to be particularly helpful in recovering damages.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you - appreciate the information - and yes I know what you mean - they're supposed to be the consumer advocates but I've never really seen them put the theory into action. Have a great afternoon.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

You're very welcome.

Best wishes to you and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

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