Test driving a vehicle is the best way to determine which is the best car for you. As the car salesman navigates you through nearby streets, you are running through your checklist to help determine your purchase choice. Unfortunately, accidents can happen anytime, anywhere.
On your route around the dealership, you may face an unavoidable collision due to a negligent party. If you were behind the wheel of a vehicle under your own name, the process is quite simple. However, what do you do if the vehicle you were driving belonged to the dealership? These types of accidents can get complicated, especially when it comes to determining which insurance carrier covers the property damage and your injuries from the crash.
Who Is Responsible for the Accident?
Just like any other car accident, the driver whose negligence caused the collision will be responsible for any resulting damages. There are no special rules for test drivers when it comes to liability for an accident. This means, even if you committed a traffic violation or were careless during a test drive, you will probably be liable for the crash.
Other Driver’s Insurance
If it is proven that the other driver was liable for the accident, then all claims will be made against their insurance. The dealership will process claims through the negligent party’s insurance as well.
If it is proven that the other driver was liable for the accident, but the at-fault driver does not have car insurance, then the dealership will process the claim through their own fleet insurance to recover the damages.
Car dealerships carry fleet insurance on all vehicles on their lot. Test drivers are usually covered under fleet insurance. No matter who is liable for the accident, fleet insurance normally includes the damages and injuries suffered from an accident during a test drive.
If the test driver is a minor, the dealership has been known to recover the costs through their own insurance to help keep the test driver’s business. Only if the test driver is found liable for the accident, will the dealership file a third-party claim through the driver’s insurance.
Dealership Liability Waivers
Some dealerships will try to mitigate their liability for any accident by having test drivers sign a liability waiver. These waivers are an attempt to transfer any and all liability for damages to the test driver. You should not sign such a waiver unless you completely understand the terms and are comfortable assuming the risk of a test drive.
If it is proven that the other driver was liable for the accident, but the at-fault driver does not have car insurance, then your options are limited. If you’re injured, you must either be covered under uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) in your auto policy or treat your injuries through your health insurance.
Important Steps To Take After
If you were involved in a car accident during a test drive, you should take the following steps to protect your legal rights:
- Call the police and/or paramedics, especially if someone is seriously injured and requires emergency care at the scene.
- Get the contact information for any parties involved in the crash, including drivers, passengers and witnesses.
- Take photographs of the scene of the crash and the vehicles involved.
- Report the accident to your car insurance company.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney.
If you believe that the collision may have been caused by a vehicle defect or some other issue that could be attributed to the manufacturer or dealer, it is even more important that you take the steps above and immediately consult with an experienced lawyer, who specifically handles these types of cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent party, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates have achieved over $135 million for their clients so far. For more information or to schedule a FREE consultation with one of the attorneys, call 949-727-9300.
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