The test drive is an important part of purchasing a new car. Unfortunately, experimenting with a car that you’re unfamiliar with can invite disaster – such as a car accident. If you get into a car accident during a test drive, the party responsible for paying for the damage will depend on the circumstances. If you find yourself in this situation, remain calm. Whether the car belonged to a dealership or a private party, insurance coverage is most likely available.
The Other Driver Pays
New Mexico uses a tort-based car insurance law. This means that the driver who causes the car accident must pay for a victim’s property damage and medical bills. If another driver crashed into you while you were test-driving a vehicle, that driver’s auto insurance will be responsible for paying for your losses, including any medical care required to treat your injuries.
If the other driver was texting and driving, running a red light, speeding, or breaking other traffic laws, for example, the driver will pay to repair any damage to the vehicle that you were driving, most likely out of his or her car insurance. Since someone else owns the car, the owner will process the claim – meaning you don’t have to do much, despite being the person who was driving the car at the time of the crash.
The Dealership Pays
Car dealerships often have specialized insurance policies known as fleet insurance. This insurance will cover property damage to any vehicle in the fleet. The dealership’s insurance may pay for your test-driving car accident if the other driver caused the crash but does not have insurance or if it was a hit-and-run accident.
If the vehicle experienced an issue during the test drive that caused the accident, such as a tire blowout, the dealership will also pay through its fleet insurance. Do not be surprised if the dealership still asks for your personal insurance information after a car accident. This is standard procedure even if the dealership’s insurance company will cover the crash.
Dealership Liability Waivers
Some car dealerships will try to avoid liability for automobile accidents by having test drivers sign liability waivers before getting behind the wheel. These waivers may transfer any liability that would otherwise go to the dealership to the test driver. It is important not to sign this type of waiver unless you fully understand its terms and what it will mean for you if you get into an accident. You should be comfortable assuming 100 percent of the risks and liability for the test drive if you sign a release waiver.
Your Car Insurance Pays
The test driver’s own insurance will rarely have to pay for a test-driving car accident. It is more common for another driver or the dealership to pay. However, if you are at fault for the car accident and there is not another insurance policy available, the claim may go through your own car insurance provider. Your auto insurance carrier will most likely cover the damage even though you were driving a vehicle that you do not own. Note that if the test driver was a minor under the age of 18, however, dealerships have been known to cover the costs of an accident even if the driver was at fault to keep the test driver’s business.
When to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Albuquerque
If you get into a car accident during a test drive, call the police to report the crash. This is especially important if anyone was injured and needs emergency medical care. Exchange contact information with all parties involved, including the other driver, any passengers, eyewitnesses, and the dealership or vehicle owner. Take photographs of the scene of the accident. Before you begin the insurance claims process, contact an experienced car accident attorney in Albuquerque for advice. A lawyer who handles these cases can help you achieve a positive result.