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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Hello, I'm Karla Mitchell. Going through a legal case can be very expensive and challenging. I won't go into details, but I recently underwent my own legal battle that lasted several years. It is finally over and I successfully received a settlement, but I had to spend so much time studying law in order to play my role in my own court case. While I found a great attorney at one point, I felt completely lost initially and I don't want anyone else to experience the same thing. So I decided to create this blog for those who would like to know more about law.


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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

What To Do If You Get Into An Accident During A Test Drive

by Andrew Martin

Millions of people test drive vehicles every year without incident. There's always that small percentage, thought, that run afoul of Murphy's Law and experience unfortunate events while taking a new or used vehicle for a spin. One of those unpleasant events is getting into an accident. If you had the misfortune of getting into a fender bender while test driving a vehicle, here is what you need to do to resolve the situation.

Establish Fault

The first thing that needs to be done is to establish who was at fault for the accident because this will determine who is liable for any resulting damages and the next steps you'll have to take to settle the issue. Sometimes the fault for an accident is clear cut (e.g. the other driver ran a red light and crashed into you). Other times it won't be as obvious.

No matter how minor the accident is, it's essential that you call the police to the scene. The cops can take down statements of those involved as well as collect the contact information of any witnesses. For your part, you should collect the other party's insurance information as well as pictures of the scene and the damage to the vehicles. Use your phone to record any statements the driver or witnesses make at the scene. This can be helpful in proving or refuting testimony made at a later date.

Whatever you do, avoid making any statements of guilt or agreeing with any statements attempting to assign blame to you. Keep your testimony as factual as possible. Things can get very confusing after an accident, and you want to avoid saying anything that could be used against you.

Determine Who Pays

If you are found to be at fault for the accident and you were test driving a vehicle being sold by a private individual, the car owner's insurance company will likely pay for any damages that result from the incident. Although you were driving the vehicle at the time, the owner is still liable for any accidents that occur because he or she gave you permission to use it. However, the owner or insurance company may come after you for any deductible or other expenses not covered by the policy.

Things get a little more complex if you got into an accident in a vehicle obtained from a dealership. Some dealerships' insurance policies cover damage to vehicles regardless of who was driving or who caused the accident. However, this is rare, especially in states like California where people are required to have insurance to drive even if they don't own vehicles. You'll need to speak to someone at the dealership to determine what type of coverage the company has. If the company states the accident is completely covered, be certain to get that in writing to protect yourself from future lawsuits.

In states that allow them, most dealerships have customers sign waivers that essentially state the drivers' insurance companies will be tapped first for damages and the dealerships' insurance providers will pick up any costs not covered. For example, if you cause $30,000 worth of damage but your insurance policy will only cover $20,000, the dealership's provider will cover the remaining $10,000. Even if you don't sign a waiver, state law may require that you submit a claim to your insurance provider, who will treat it the same as if you were filing a claim for damage to a rental vehicle.

Unfortunately, if you don't have insurance and you're at-fault for the accident, then both the victim and the dealership can hold you directly liable for the damages.

Sorting out the legalities after being involved in an accident during a test drive can get complex. If this happens to you, it's a good idea to consult with a car accident or personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and work with all parties on your behalf to find the best solution to the problem.