Most people will want to drive a vehicle before deciding whether or not to buy it. Virtually all dealerships will allow prospective buyers to test drive their vehicles before making a decision. If you wonder what happens if you are in a wreck while test driving a vehicle, the answer will depend on the circumstances. Also, states vary as to how they decide liability.
Who is Liable in a Test Drive Accident?
If you did not cause the accident, then the dealer will probably not be able to hold you liable for damage to its vehicle. If your actions caused the accident, then the dealer may be able to recover damages from your insurance carrier. This depends on whether your policy covers you when driving your own car, a rental car, or a dealer’s car during a test drive. If it does, then the policy could cover the cost of damage you cause in a test drive, depending on the amount of coverage you carry.
If you do not have coverage for driving vehicles other than your own, then you risk being held personally liable for damage you cause during the test drive. It is important to understand your insurance policy as well as the laws of the state in which the accident happened. It is a good idea to periodically check with your insurance provider to discuss coverage, costs, and answer any questions you may have about your insurance.
Precautions Taken by the Dealer
Most dealers obtain specialized insurance policies for their fleet in a blanket policy. In addition, dealers are entitled to refuse to allow a test drive. Typical situations for declining to permit a test drive arise if the driver:
- Does not have a valid driver’s license
- Appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Requests driving a rare, unusual, or high-performance car
A dealer can be held liable for damages from a test drive accident if it allows someone obviously under the influence to perform a test drive. However, the dealer is not required to actively investigate the condition of the test driver. Impairment of the test driver and whether or not the dealer knew of the impairment can be an issue when determining liability after a test drive crash.
Dealers will sometimes require a driver to sign a form accepting responsibility for damages to the vehicle during the test drive. This transfer of responsibility may be enforceable against the driver in the event of a crash.
Recovering Costs When the Test-Driver is Injured
States can differ on assignment of liability for damage and injuries from a car crash. Virginia relies on a fault-based system and holds the person who caused the crash to be responsible for the harm. If you have been injured, you may have the choice of filing a claim with your own insurance company, a third-party claim against the manufacturer of a defective auto part, or a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
Virginia Beach Car Crash Lawyers Can Help if You Were Injured in a Wreck While on a Test Drive
Car accidents can be very disruptive and mishandling them can be costly. If you were seriously injured in a test drive or other car accident, contact one of our experienced Virginia Beach car crash lawyers. Call 757-352-2237 or complete an online form to arrange a free initial consultation. East Coast Trial Lawyers represents clients in Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and nationwide.