Victim's Rights

questions & answers

Question: About 2 months ago, I trusted my car to someone I thought was a friend because they claimed to need transportation to their job. I have not seen my car since and this person broke off all communication. I have no idea where either this person or my car are. The police will not help because I gave this person the keys. They say it's a civil matter and to file a suit. How can a suit be filed if the whereabouts of the person are unknown. I need to know what my options are and want this person held accountable for stealing my car.

Answer:

It is likely that this would be considered an oral contract and may be enforced under a claim for breach of contract. In general, the enforcement of an oral contract may be more difficult than enforcement for breach of a written contract. To prove breach of the oral contract, it ends up being one person’s word against another’s. Generally, the certificate of title is proof of ownership of a vehicle. However, if there is enough evidence to the contrary, ownership may become a question to be decided in a civil court cases under Arizona law, (A.R.S. § 28-101 39)

"Owner" means 1) a person who holds the legal title of a vehicle, or 2) if there is an agreement to pay for the car over a period of time (a conditional sale) and with the immediate right of possession being with the buyer (the person presumably making some sort of payments), the buyer is considered the owner. The law also requires the seller of the car to provide certificate of title when the buyer takes possession of the car, whether the sale was a cash sale or a conditional sale. (A.R.S. §§ 28-2058, 2161) If there were no payments made, the "seller" may sue the "buyer" for the payments not made for the car. However, the issue here is going to be that you must first find your car and/or locate the person that you loaned your car. If in fact you are able to locate this person, you may be able to sue this person in civil court for breach of contract to recover the car and/or payments that were never made. For claims up to $2500, the case must be filed in Small Claims Court within the Justice Court System. For claims up to $10,000, the case must be filed in the Justice Court as well but not under small claims. Forms and instructions may be found online at the Maricopa County Superior Court.

QUESTIONS

  • About 2 months ago, I trusted my car to someone I thought was a friend because they claimed to need transportation to their job. I have not seen my car since and this person broke off all communication. I have no idea where either this person or my car are. The police will not help because I gave this person the keys. They say it's a civil matter and to file a suit. How can a suit be filed if the whereabouts of the person are unknown. I need to know what my options are and want this person held accountable for stealing my car.

STORIES

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  • State Bar of Arizona
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    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
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    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
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