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How To Avoid Legal Liability When Selling Your Car


If you’re interested in selling your vehicle, there are a few things you must do to complete the sale correctly. Unfortunately, we’ve heard from many car owners who found themselves in legal trouble because they did not sell their car properly. Below, you’ll see a brief breakdown of the steps required to sell your car in Florida.

Pre-Sale Steps To Take

Once you decide that you would like to sell your car, the first thing you should do is remove the license plates. A license plate is attached to your name and registration, not the vehicle itself. Also, remember that a car cannot be on the road without license plates.

Test Driving:

Since you may have buyers who are interested in test driving the car, you’ll want to secure a temporary license plate from the State of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Division of Motor Services. Interested sellers can find this form online. They’ll need to submit it to their local tax collector. There is no fee to submit this form, but you’ll need to include information such as:

• Your Driver’s License Number
• Information about the vehicle, including the identification number
• The purpose for the temporary license plate
• Proof of insurance

The state will set an expiration date on the license plate. If you do not sell the car in this time-frame, you’ll need to reapply with the state. Additionally, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends that you conduct a VIN inspection. If there are any problems with your car, you should either pay to fix them or disclose them entirely to the buyer.

Post-Sale Steps To Take

After you’ve found a buyer, you’ll need to transfer the title of your car or truck. This is a critical step that you must complete, even if you’ve lost the original title. If you cannot locate the original title, you’ll need to file paperwork to secure a duplicate.

Like the temporary license plate application, the duplicate title application form, HSMV 82101, can be found on the Division of Motorist Services website and should be submitted to your local tax collector office. Lastly, you’ll need to File a Notice of Sale, form HSMV 82050, as well. Car owners will need to provide the final odometer reading for this form to be considered official.

Other Points Of Emphasis

When selling a car in Florida, there are a few other things that you’ll want to consider. First and foremost, be sure you are careful with where you park your vehicle and post a “For Sale” sign. Under Florida law, owners cannot solicit vehicle sales on public rights of way or private property without the property owner’s permission.

Additionally, you should not buy, sell, or attempt to sell more than three cars in a year. If you do so, the state of Florida considers you to be a motor vehicle dealer. To operate as a motor vehicle dealer, you’ll need to obtain exclusive licenses. You also may be required to pay additional taxes or fees. If you were to operate as a motor vehicle dealer without a license, you could be subject to stiff penalties.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that owners cannot sell a car in a private sale if there is an existing lien on the vehicle. Owners must satisfy the claim entirely before they can transfer the title of the car or truck. However, owners can trade any vehicle with a lien into a dealership.

Why You Must Complete These Steps Properly

Completing these steps when selling your vehicle will help reduce the risk of potential future liability. For instance, if you do not submit Form HSMV 82050, your registration information will still be attached to the car after the sale! This could put you at risk of civil liability when the vehicle is operated after the sale, even though you are conceding that the vehicle is no longer yours.

Owners could find themselves liable for “any actions associated with the motor vehicle.” HSMV 82050 transfer the onus of the sale to the buyer. Once owners complete, the buyer is responsible for applying for the registration and vehicle title. The state of Florida recommends that owners notarize this document to ensure its legality.

If you were involved in an accident with a vehicle that had been sold illegally, be sure to contact our law offices today. Our personal injury attorneys will research your case thoroughly to determine which parties were at fault, allowing you to receive the compensation you deserve. Complete our Free Case Review form today.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

How To Avoid Legal Liability When Selling Your Car

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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