(WSVN) - He was 16 years old and needed a good used car. He signed the contract, but the car broke down. Now the question: Is a contract signed by a minor binding? It’s why one teenager called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
If you look at the pictures of this car crash, your first thought is, “Oh, boy.”
Jose Perez Carrillo, son got into accident: “My heart dropped. Thought I lost a kid.”
That kid driving this car was Jose’s son, Jeremy.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo, signed a contract: “I was kind of shocked, but at the same time I was grateful because I was able to survive that in that car.”
Jeremy was certainly lucky that day, but when he and his father started looking online for another vehicle for Jeremy, his luck turned the wrong way.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “We ended up finding this Volkswagen Jetta Wagon.”
They met the car’s owner at a parking lot in Davie to test out the 2001 vehicle.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “Cosmetically, it looked good. He turned it on and it ran. It sounded great.”
Jose Perez Carrillo: “So we drove the vehicle from Davie to Weston. I think it was like four miles. We got to his house, car ran OK over there.”
Jeremy signed the contract. That’s important, because he is 16 years old. He then paid the owner of the car $1,500 and started home.
Jose Perez Carrillo: “We’re driving back home to Pines and it wouldn’t shift. The transmission started missing gears, and it wouldn’t drive properly anymore.”
A mechanic concluded the transmission was shot and wouldn’t shift gears. A new one would cost twice what Jeremy paid for the car, meaning the car is worthless.
Jose Perez Carrillo: “We have a vehicle that is a lawn ornament in front of our home.”
They called the seller, and at first he agreed to refund their money. He then changed his mind and said, “No refund.”
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “He said that I had signed the contract where it says ‘as is.'”
Jeremy’s a smart 16-year-old. He replied.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “Then we mentioned that I’m a minor, and I can just void that contact, get out of that contract.”
The car seller still refused to return Jeremy’s money.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “And since then, he has not returned our phone calls, picked them up or responded to the text messages.”
Well, Jeremy bought the car as is, but he is only 16 and a minor. Howard, which side does the law take?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The law is on Jeremy’s side since, at 16, he is a minor. That means, even though his father was there, since Jeremy signed the contract, legally he has a right to cancel and get his money back.”
A couple sold the car to Jeremy. The woman told us the 2001 Volkswagen was in perfect condition, that Jeremy and his father test drove it, and besides, they bought it as is.
When we reminded her Jeremy was a minor, she said, “They can go ahead and sue us.”
Howard Finkelstein: “If you want your teenager under the age of 18 to sign a contract, to make it legal and binding, the adult needs to co-sign. And even then, the minor can get out of the contract, but the adult that co-signs cannot.”
Jeremy could sue the car seller in small claims court, but even if he wins, he doubts they would return his money.
However, rather than get angry, this 16-year-old thought about the accident he was in and put everything in perspective.
Jeremy Perez Carrillo: “As long as I was able to get out of that accident, with all of my family, I can overcome situations like this.”
So true, Jeremy, so true. Good luck.
And most car dealers or people won’t sign a contract with a minor because, while the minor can cancel the contract, the other party cannot, so people who sell things generally want a parent to sign instead of the kid. Jeremy is now saving his money to buy another car.
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