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There is no “three day rule” when buying a car


Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. How many days do I have to change my mind after I buy a car? I signed a contract late at night and went in the next morning to cancel. The dealer told me I was out of luck and couldn’t change my mind. My friend told me I have three days to change my mind.
A. The dealer is correct. As far as the law is concerned, you generally cannot simply change your mind after you sign a contract. There is no “three day rule.” There are a few exceptions, however, for certain contracts, such as health spa contracts, door-to-door sales, timeshare contracts and certain contracts that put a lien on your homestead.
The bottom line is that unless you were misled or deceived into signing the agreement, it is legally binding. I suggest you talk with the dealer, explain why you changed your mind, and see if it won’t agree to cancel the contract.
Q. I was parked at a local parking lot. When I returned to my car it was towed. The owner of the store that I parked in front of told me I parked in one of its parking spots. It had my car towed and told me where to pick it up. This cost me hundreds of dollars. Is this legal?
A. The owner of a parking lot has the right to tow cars that are wrongfully parked, but only if it complies with a very specific law. Unless you were given actual notice your car would be towed, to tow a car there must be signs at the entrance to the lot, mounted on a pole or wall, installed so that the bottom edge of the sign is no lower than five feet and no higher than eight feet above ground level. The sign must be at least 18 inches wide and 24 inches tall; contain the international symbol for towing vehicles and a statement describing who may park in the parking facility and prohibiting all others. The sign must also have the words “Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed at Owner’s or Operator’s Expense,” and a statement of the days and hours of towing enforcement. Finally, the sign must have a number, including the area code, of a telephone that is answered 24 hours a day to enable an owner or operator of a vehicle to locate the vehicle.
If the business did not have proper signage, it can be liable for all the costs of towing and storage, as well as any damage to your car. If the owner of the lot acted intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly it may be liable for $1000 plus three times the amount of fees assessed in the vehicle’s removal, towing or storage. I suggest you go back to the lot and see if there are proper signs. If not, let the owner know you expect to be reimbursed what it cost you when your car was towed and will consider a claim in justice court if you cannot settle the manner.
Q. I own a large vacant lot, near a residential development. Because the lot is fairly level and doesn’t have any holes or trees, local children often play there. I have put up “no trespassing” signs, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I am concerned that I may be sued if someone is hurt while playing there. What is my possible liability?
A. As a general rule, a landowner is not liable for injuries that occur on his or her property unless the owner was negligent, and did something that caused the injury. When it comes to people who trespass, however, the law is even stricter. As owner of land does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser on the land and is not liable for any injury to a trespasser on the land, unless the owner injured the trespasser willfully, wantonly, or through gross negligence. In other words, you should have no liability if a trespassing child gets hurt playing on your property, unless you injury him or her. Of course, you still should have proper liability insurance to protect you from any legal fees you could incur if a lawsuit is filed.

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