Planning on selling a car? Here are the steps you need to protect yourself

Check to make sure the vehicle is no longer registered to you

If you’re planning on selling a vehicle, there are important steps you definitely need to take to protect yourself.

A St. Cloud couple learned that the hard way after they sold their vehicle themselves and it went horribly wrong.

Paul and Kay Kirby were sued because the person they sold their vehicle to was involved in a crash.

The Kirby’s were not behind the wheel, or even in the vehicle, but they were hit with a $75,000 lawsuit.

“My husband won’t drive his car,” Kay Kirby said. “He’s just a nervous wreck. Its just been horrible.”

They sold the 2003 Lincoln Navigator on October 30, 2014, according to the bill of sale provided to News 6.

Four days later the person they sold it to veered into oncoming traffic and crashed into a school bus, according to a crash report.

"We got mail from investigators, insurance companies, her attorney, so we just sent letters to all of them with the bill of sale to say its nothing to do with us, we sold the vehicle," Kay Kirby said.

When they sold the vehicle, the Kirby’s filled out the right document recording the vehicle’s title number, VIN number and the buyer’s information, but they missed a crucial step.

They never filed the Notice of Sale with the state, so when the crash happened by law the Kirby’s still owned the vehicle.

The insurance company for a passenger on the school bus sued them and the driver for $75,000.

Michael Jungen is an avid News 6 viewer and saw the Kirby’s story when it aired.

"I was shocked to learn that they were still responsible for anything that happened with that motor vehicle," Jungen said.

While watching the story Jungen immediately remembered three vehicles he had sold years prior.

“Immediately after seeing the story I went to the website, logged back in again, just to see if they are indeed still there and, of course, they still are,” he said.

Three vehicles Jungen sold in 1998 are still registered to him, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records.

"I had not had them for a long time, so it really didn't bother me, until I saw your story," he said.

Here’s how you check if vehicles are registered to you:

Go to www.gorenew.com which is the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.

After you agree to the terms, you'll then see "locate your records." The site requires you to put in personal information like your name, address, date of birth, full or partial social security number and your driver's license number, depending on the option you choose.

Finally, you’ll see vehicles that are registered to you.

Like Jungen, if you find a vehicle you’ve sold is still registered to you, fill out form HSMV 82050, and return it to DHSMV. It is supposed to be done within 30 days of selling the vehicle, but exceptions can be made, according to the state.

"It's scary to think about what the potential consequences can be if something does happen with one of those vehicles," Jungen said.

When selling a vehicle yourself, DHSMV recommends you conduct the transaction at one of their locations so that you know the buyer has properly transferred the title.

If you can’t do that you should still file the form with the state.

If the buyer never applies for a title the vehicle will still show you as the last owner own, but in terms of liability you have more protection, legal experts say.

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