Buying Used Cars Outside of Wisconsin, Why it May be a Bad Idea

With the internet, many shoppers of used cars are tempted to buy outside the state they live in. Buying outside of your state of residency can present difficulties if you have a legal issue arising out of the purchase. Two major legal issues are where you can bring the lawsuit and what state’s law will apply.

Most internet sales, generally, are not going to be sufficient to create perwsonal jurisdiction in a Wisconsin court over a non-Wisconsin resident or business. A Wisconsin court could have personal jurisdiction over the seller, though, in certain specific circumstances. For example, the seller conducts more than isolated transactions in Wisconsin, consents to jurisdiction in the purchase contract, is present in Wisconsin when committing an act that gives rise to one of the claims, purposely and knowlingly directs his unlawful conduct in Wisconsin and on a Wisconsin resident, or waives personal jurisdiction issues during the litigation.

If you buy a used car outside of Wisconsin, the law that will likely apply is the law of the state where the sale took place—typically the state where the car and seller are located. Contracts can designate a different state, and the parties’ choice of state law in a contract can but does not always control. So if you buy out of state, you will likely not be able to apply some of the important protections under Wisconsin law that may otherwise be available to you. Other states may have more or less protection, so you may want to investigate the law of hte state where you are buying to see if the protections are adequate.

Keep in mind too that pursuing a lawsuit in a distant state will likely be more expensive than in your home state. You will likely have to travel to the state where the lawsuit is pending for things like mediation, a deposition, and trial, among other things. You will also have to find a lawyer in Wisconsin that is licensed in the state where you will file the lawsuit or hire a lawyer in that other state.

Given the many protections that Wiwcsonsin law does afford a consumer buyer of used cars, you may want to buy in Wisconsin rather than a place far away. Also remember that a dealer that does not ever expecct to see you again may be less interested in working out any problems after the sale and an unscrupulous seller may see you as more vulnerable than someone that resides in his state.

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