What happens if you get into an accident while test driving a vehicle you are thinking of buying? Does the dealership have insurance to cover the damages? Is it possible that you could be held liable for a test drive car crash?
These are all great questions to ask and know the answers to before trying out any car at a dealership’s lot. At Jay Trucks, our experienced car crash lawyers in Grand Rapids are here to help. Call our firm today to find out if you could have a case after sustaining damages in a test drive collision.
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What Insurance Covers Test Drive Crash Damages?
In most accidents, liability typically is covered by the insurance of the at-fault driver. However, since Michigan is a no-fault state, these types of claims are handled a little differently than for liability states. Dealerships are required to carry insurance on all of their vehicles. Often this insurance covers both theft and damages resulting from a crash during a test drive. This means that in most cases, unless you caused the crash, then:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance would likely pay for his or her medical bills (no-fault claim) and vehicle damages
- The dealership, which carries insurance on all of their vehicles, would cover damages to their vehicle
- The dealership’s insurance would likely also have to pay for your medical costs and other losses
Could You Be Held Liable for Any Damages?
That depends on whether or not you were at fault for the accident. Drivers still owe a duty of care whether they are test driving a car they want to buy or one that they already own. This means, for instance, that if you violate a traffic law during a test drive, you can still be ticketed. If you break the law while test driving and cause a crash, you could be liable for the damages.
Other times liability may come into question:
- When prospective buyers sign a liability waiver to release the dealership from damages if a crash occurs
- If the majority rule applies and a dealership salesperson did not accompany you on the test drive
- A dealership may be held liable if a prospective buyer was visibly incompetent, but allowed to test drive anyway
The majority rule, when it applies, states that if a salesperson goes with the potential buyer on the test drive, the dealership accepts liability. However, the opposite is also true. If the salesperson does not accompany you on a test drive, and a crash occurs, you could be liable.
Before taking any car on a test drive, make sure you find out what practices your state and the dealership follow. If asked to sign a liability waiver, be sure to read the small print. A dealership that wants your business may not enforce you signing the waiver if you are not comfortable with it. Regardless of what you decide, it is a good idea to contact your insurer before going car shopping. Find out how your auto insurance policy may or may not apply to a test drive car crash you or others may cause.
Is There Leniency for Test Driving an Unfamiliar Car?
There are no special laws that reduce liability for being unfamiliar with a vehicle you test drive. Before setting off, test drivers should take a minute to get familiar with the car and its settings.
For example, before test driving you should:
- Adjust the driver’s seat to ensure brake and acceleration pedals are within an easy reach
- Set the side-view and rearview mirrors to ensure you have a maximum line of sight
- Try braking a few times while on the lot to get a feel for the car’s stopping distance
- Steer the vehicle around the lot before going out onto a public road
- Find out where the wipers, headlights, turn signal, etc. are located
- Accelerate the vehicle a few times on the lot – again, to get a feel for the car
Taking these and other measures is what a reasonable person would do before leaving the lot. Trying to adjust settings in an unfamiliar car while also driving in real traffic is a bad idea. It is considered distracted driving behavior and it could easily lead to a crash.
Injured in a Test Drive Crash? Contact Jay Trucks to Get Legal Help You Can Trust
Car insurance often has a lot of fine print that the insurance company may hope you never read. Dealerships may also have exclusions and special rules to protect themselves in the event a test driver crashes their car.
If you are injured in a crash while test driving a car, Jay Trucks is prepared to help. Contact our law offices as soon as possible to discuss your situation.
We have been helping injured victims throughout Michigan for decades, recovering millions on their behalf. If you have a case and we represent you, there are no upfront costs. We take injury cases on contingency, so you only pay our fees if we are successful in getting compensation for you.
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