Generally speaking, auto accidents that occur while on a test drive, are rare. However, when these accidents occur, the determination of liability can become extremely complex. For this reason, you will want to hire an attorney as soon as you can. The party who acted with the most negligence will be responsible for covering the resulting injuries and property damage.
The Determination of Fault
Typically the person whose negligence contributed most to the accident will be liable for the resulting injury and property damage. If you acted in a careless or negligent manner, while test driving a car, you may be at fault.
Furthermore, your unfamiliarity with the vehicle in question will not excuse you from liability. The law expects that a good driver will familiarize themselves with the unique qualities of an unknown vehicle before driving it. For example, a prudent driver would adjust to the unfamiliar sightlines and test both the brake and accelerator response.
Steps After an Accident
As with any accident, you should move your vehicle to a safe location and turn your hazards on. Call 911 if any of your passengers need emergency medical attention. If no severe injury occurred, call the non-emergency line of your local police department. A police report will help ensure liability goes to the correct party. Additionally, each state has a different requirement for police involvement. In Utah, you must report a car accident immediately.
Next, you should take pictures of the accident and damage to the vehicles. Collect as much evidence as possible, this includes witness statements, photographs, video recordings, etc. Trade information with the other driver(s) involved in the auto accident. This includes their contact and insurance information.
You also need to inform the dealership of the accident. Note that if your accident resulted from a vehicular malfunction, you should take as many detailed photos as possible, and then contact a Utah attorney; who can help you pursue compensation from the car manufacturer and/or dealership.
The Dealership may Cover Expenses Using Fleet Insurance
All dealerships are required to carry fleet insurance, which covers all vehicles on their lot. Typically, fleet insurance extends to provide coverage to those test driving vehicles and can cover all damages resulting from an auto accident regardless of fault. A dealership might absorb all costs associated with a minor accident especially if they desire the customer’s business.
However, if the accident resulted in serious injury or vehicular damage, the dealership may pursue a third-party claim; seeking reimbursement for the fees paid through their fleet insurance. Dealerships lacking insurance may attempt to force you to purchase the wrecked vehicle. If this happens, an attorney can help you make a plan of action specific to your situation.
What if the Dealership Wants Me to Sign a Liability Waiver?
A liability waiver removes all responsibility from a dealership should an accident occur. This means if you get into an auto accident during a test drive, you will be liable for any resulting damages if you are at-fault. You should never sign a liability waiver unless you are financially prepared to assume the risk it poses. Most dealerships do not require you to sign a liability waiver before a test drive, as it often deters people from making a purchase.
Your Auto Insurance May Cover Accident Costs
If you were at-fault for an accident, the injured party and/or dealership may bring a claim against you. In this instance, your liability insurance will cover these losses up to your policy limit. Your auto insurance should cover you when test driving a vehicle; all of your auto insurance policies should apply to the vehicles you test drive. However, be sure to check with your insurance.
The Damages May be Paid by the At-fault Driver’s Insurance
Any claims made by the injured party or dealership will go through the at-fault party’s insurance. However, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance, the dealership will have to rely on its fleet insurance to cover the cost of damages. You won’t be held liable in this case as you are not at fault.
If you sustain injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver your auto insurance may cover your medical treatment; provided you have uninsured motorist coverage. You may also receive coverage if you live in a no-fault state. For example, Utah provides each insured driver a minimum of $3,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP can cover the cost of medical expenses resulting from an auto accident.
If you don’t live in a no-fault state, you can use your health insurance to cover the cost of your medical treatment. You can then pursue compensation, with the help of an attorney, in a personal injury lawsuit.
How a Utah Attorney Can Help You After an Accident
If you were injured in an accident on a test drive, you may be able to pursue compensation from both the at-fault party and the dealership. However, this will largely depend on the circumstances of your accident. For example, if the car you were test driving contributed to your accident in any way, the dealership may also be liable for your injuries. A Utah accident attorney can help you understand your options; helping you receive the compensation you deserve.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!