You might want to test drive a car to help you decide whether to buy it. At the time you test drive the car, however, it does not belong to you. So who bears liability if you get involved in a car accident during the test drive? The Miami car accident lawyers at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers tell you all you need to know in this article.
If the Accident Was Your Fault
If the accident was your fault, you have more than one potential source of compensation available to you.
Automobile dealerships almost always carry no-fault fleet insurance, which should cover damage to one of their cars even if the accident was your fault. If the accident wasn’t serious (and maybe even if it was), the dealership probably won’t necessarily demand a contribution from you.
Your Liability Insurance Policy
If you own a car registered in Florida, state law requires you to carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. Unlike PIP insurance, this insurance is fault-based. The dealership might make a third-party claim against your property damage liability insurance policy for damage done during a test drive.
A Lawsuit Against You
If you don’t carry any auto accident liability insurance, the dealership might proceed with a lawsuit against you in your personal capacity. If you lose, you could end up paying for losses out of your own pocket. This result isn’t all that likely.
Paying for Your Own Injuries – PIP Insurance
If you are a Florida driver who owns a car, you probably carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Indeed, state law requires all Florida drivers to carry PIP no-fault insurance. PIP bodily injury insurance follows the driver. It applies even if the accident was your fault and even if you were driving someone else’s car. It will cover 80% of your medical expenses up to at least $10,000.
Paying for Your Own Injuries –Your Own Health Insurance Policy
If you exhaust your PIP insurance resources, you can potentially rely on your own health insurance to cover a portion of your expenses. Read your policy carefully.
If the Accident Was Someone Else’s Fault
The rules are different if another motorist (or perhaps even a pedestrian) caused your test drive accident.
Damage to the Car Your Were Driving
If the accident was another motorist’s fault, the dealer will demand compensation from the at-fault driver. Just make sure you get the driver’s contact and insurance details before you leave the scene of the accident. Even if the at-fault driver is uninsured, the dealer can use their fleet insurance to cover their property damage claim.
Your Own Injuries
You should handle coverage for your own injuries the same way you would handle your own injuries if you were driving your own car. First, look at your PIP insurance and your health insurance. If that’s not enough, try to establish that your injuries are “serious” under Florida law so you can exit the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist.
Under Florida’s comparative negligence rules, if the accident was mostly your fault you cannot claim any compensation. You should treat the accident as if you are the at-fault party, except that the amount of your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
If the accident was mostly the other driver’s fault, you should treat it the way you would if it were 100% the other driver’s fault, except that you will lose a percentage of your damages that equals the other driver’s percentage of fault.
In all likelihood, a comparative fault claim will end at the negotiating table rather than at trial. The foregoing framework simply provides you with a general framework for settlement negotiations.
If you signed a liability waiver before your test drive, you will bear the consequences of any damage to the car unless you can pin liability on an at-fault third-party motorist. A signed waiver relieves the dealership of liability.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for More Information
If you have questions about who is liable for your test drive car accident, contact an experienced car accident lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options. They can also maximize the value of your injury claim.