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There are many car accidents caused by the rain, but floods – just like all other natural disasters – are also a major cause of wrongful deaths and auto accidents.

Whether it be the loss of a loved one or the destruction of property, the damage is often permanent and leaves us with grief, disappointment, and tears.There are criminals, however, whose fraudulent activities depend upon the aftermath of floods, especially serious floods such as those resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Flood vehicles are defined as cars that have at one point in time been completely or partially submerged in water that their body, engine, transmission, or other mechanical components have been damaged.

According to the NHTSA, about half of the flooded Hurricane Katrina cars are on the streets again and many may be for sale.  Since over over 600,000 cars were destroyed, this is a frightening statistic.  As car accident attorneys, we strongly believe these vehicles should never be allowed to be resold and should be sent to a junkyard.

So how do fraudsters take advantage of flood cars? When the insurance company deems a flood car inoperable, the insurance company buys the car and resells the flood car as “salvaged vehicle.” Dishonest car dealers sometimes buy the flood vehicles and make the vehicles look presentable, but leave plenty of flood damage unattended. Then, these flood cars are shipped to states with no floods, so that car buyers would never suspect the car of having gone through flood damage.

With cleaned up but untreated flood damage, the car would seem drivable during the test car drives before it is purchased, but flood damage could cause a serious car accident at any moment. And the new car owners would not know of the damage, because the fraudulent sellers sell the cars without disclosing damage, an illegal practice otherwise known as “title washing.”

Our car accident lawyers are concerned with the safety of all car drivers and passengers, and we strongly believe it is important that car owners and potential car buyers understand prevention methods against buying flood vehicles.

Select a car dealer with a good reputation.

  • Inspect the car for water stains, mildew, or sand in obscure areas (e.g. under the carpets, under the floor mats, and behind the dashboard).
  • Inspect the interior of the car (including door panels) for fading.
  • Check for rust on screws where water is never supposed to reach (except in the case of a flood).
  • Check for mud or grit in tight spaces and crevices.
  • Inspect the seatbelt retractors by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and look for moisture or dirt.
  • Check door speakers as they will often be damaged due to flooding.
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing it.
  • Look under the hood for signs of oxidation.The following two are clear indicators of flood damage:
    • Ferrous materials (iron) will show signs of rust
    • Copper will show a green coating
  • Aluminum will have a white powder coating.
  • Ask about the vehicle’s history. Ask whether it was in any accidents or floods.
  • If the seller is unwilling to answer or if the deal sounds too good to be true, do not buy the car.

Our car accident lawyers hope that these tips will help car buyers stay away from getting tricked by fraudulent sellers advertising flood vehicles.

Please feel free to call us now at 1-800-655-6585 or you can click here for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.  We have a large bilingual staff that can assist you in either English or Spanish.  No fee if no recovery.

Michael Pines, APCAbout

Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who specializes in car accident injury. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes on how insurance companies work and how they decided to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael's inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents.

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