The coveted test drive is one of the most important factors in determining whether you will purchase a new car. For most people, test driving a brand-new car evokes a combination of thrill and terror. Sure, it’s exciting to have the chance to test-drive your dream vehicle, but you’re still taking responsibility for a car you don’t actually own yet. What happens if you get into an accident?
It might ease your worries to know that, statistically, test-drive crashes are fairly uncommon. However, they do happen from time to time, and there is no hard-and-fast rule about liability. Each situation is examined on a case-by-case basis. Here is a bit of important information you can keep in the back of your mind when you head to the car dealership and take your next potential purchase out for a spin.
Keep calm and realize that everyone makes mistakes. Though this might seem like a worst-case scenario, it doesn’t have to be viewed as more of a catastrophe than any other type of car accident, especially if you have an experienced and reliable attorney working on your behalf.
Car dealerships are required to have fleet insurance covering all of their vehicles, which means that, fortunately, damages resulting from a test drive accident are almost always covered, regardless of who is at fault. Occasionally, a reckless driver is proven to be at fault and the dealership’s insurance company will refuse to cover damages. But if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions, you’re unlikely to be found liable.
Be prepared before you hit the road.
As with any car accident, liability is determined based on negligence and carelessness. If you drive recklessly or distractedly and cause a collision, you are likely to be held responsible for the accident. Although you might not technically have ownership of the vehicle, you are expected to handle it with as much care as you would your own car and take reasonable steps to avoid causing an accident. In other words, treat the car how you would want your own to be treated.
Before you take it out for a test drive, you’re expected to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s features. Don’t assume you’ll be able to manage the car simply because you’ve read up on the make and model. If this means taking a few extra minutes in the lot adjusting the seat, finding your blind spot, and testing the brakes and pedals, so be it. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Follow up, the way you would after any car accident.
It’s advisable to take the same steps following a test drive accident that you would following any type of collision. That is, collect the names and contact information of everyone involved in the wreck, take pictures, and report the accident to the police and your insurance company. Don’t hesitate to speak to any witnesses who were nearby during the scene of the collision.
Once you’ve followed all these steps, protect yourself by contacting an attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accident negligence. In the case of test drive accidents, there are always at least three insurance companies involved, including that of the dealership. This means that a lot of lawyers will inevitably become involved, too. But rest assured, if you have a good one, they will advocate on your behalf and ensure that the aftermath of the accident is as stress-free as possible.