Can Ruin A Life, But…
By: Solomon Law Group, LLC

What if I’m in an Accident While Test Driving a Vehicle?

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Buying a new (or new-to-you) car is a huge financial investment. Before you commit to taking out an auto loan or forking over thousands of dollars, you want to be sure that a vehicle is the right fit for you.

Maybe you already did your research before you ever got to the dealership. While research tells you important information about things like fuel economy and safety ratings, the only way you can get a feel for how a car will drive is by actually getting behind the wheel.

Driving a car can be dangerous, though. Even if you are exercising more caution than normal during a test drive, other drivers probably aren’t.

There are added layers of complexity if you are involved in an accident while test driving a car. On top of all the normal concerns for things like property damage and physical injuries, you might also be left wondering who will foot the bill.

Do Dealerships Carry Insurance Coverage?

South Carolina state law requires drivers to purchase and maintain auto insurance coverage. However, when you first step foot into a dealership to test drive a car, you might not have any insurance just yet. The good news is that shouldn’t be a problem.

While you generally need insurance coverage to legally get behind the wheel, the dealership’s insurance will cover you during test drives. Car dealerships must maintain garage liability insurance on their vehicles.

Garage liability insurance is a type of umbrella policy designed specifically for businesses that operate within the automotive industry. Both property damage and physical bodily injury are covered by this type of policy.

Coverage for Vehicle Damages

Say you’re taking a dealership vehicle out for a test drive. The traffic light you were waiting at turns green, and both you and the auto dealer in the passenger seat confirm that it is safe to move through the intersection. Out of nowhere, a car runs the red light and hits the car you’re driving in the middle of the intersection.

One of your first concerns may be that you’re on the hook for any damage that happened to the vehicle. Auto repairs are expensive, and the idea of having to cover them in full can be terrifying. Just consider some of these common repairs after a collision:

  • Suspension – The range for repairing a vehicle’s suspension is pretty wide. On the cheap end, it will cost you around $500 for a minor repair, or as much as $5,000 for a complete replacement.
  • Frame – Again, the range here is pretty wide. A few scratches or dents may run you anywhere between $600 and $1,000. In a serious auto accident, the cost of framework is much closer to $10,000.
  • Computer – Replacing a damaged computer system in a vehicle may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, and up to an additional $600 to correctly program it to the vehicle.
  • Engine – This can be one of the most expensive repairs after an accident. While it all depends on an engine’s age and how badly damaged it is, engine repairs will often run between $7,000 and $10,000.

Whether you went to test drive a vehicle without insurance or already have auto insurance coverage, these costs shouldn’t scare you. If another driver causes an accident while you’re out on a test drive, the dealership’s insurance should cover the cost of damages and repairs.

Coverage for Injuries

Even seemingly minor car accidents can cause serious injuries. Much like with vehicle damages, you won’t be left to deal with things on your own after a crash during a test drive. Here are just a few of the most common types of injuries that can occur in an accident:

  • Whiplash
  • Broken Bones
  • Organ Damage
  • Back Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

Not all damages are so visible or obvious, though. A car crash is a traumatic event, and it can be hard to face that fear again in the future. Some victims even struggle with flashbacks and accident-related PTSD. For some, this fear may exclusively show up during times when vehicle travel is necessary, while for others it can affect every facet of their daily life.

On top of covering vehicle damage and medical expenses, the dealership’s garage liability insurance can also provide compensation for things like pain and suffering as well as lost wages.

What About the Other Driver?

If another driver was at fault for your accident, you can potentially hold them liable for your damages as well. While you won’t have to recuperate costs for vehicle repairs, you can go after compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages for which you may still need help.

What Happens if the Car Dealership Blames You?

If the car dealership believes you are at fault for the accident, they will probably try to collect compensation for vehicle damages from you. Your own insurance coverage can kick in here. However, if you didn’t have insurance coverage yet you could be on the hook for a lot of money.

Your next step might be demonstrating that the other driver was the one at fault. Doing so can be a challenge, so you’ll want an experienced attorney on your side to help you with your car accident claim. You can also do your best to gather some of the following information:

  • Pictures – Pictures taken at the scene of the accident can be an invaluable asset. They should show time of day, adverse driving conditions, as well as the positions of vehicles after the collision occurred.
  • Witness Statements – Statements from passengers or bystanders who witnessed the accident may help support your claim that you were not at fault.
  • Security Footage – Some stores and homes use cameras that are pointed at nearby roads. Try contacting businesses and homeowners to see if anyone’s camera captured footage of the collision.

Getting the Help You Need

A car accident can be confusing enough as it is without throwing in the complexity of test driving a vehicle on top of it. While you should be focusing on your recovery, you might instead be dealing with both the dealership and the insurance company, neither of which has your best interests in mind.

If you are tired of handling everything on your own and are ready to move forward with a personal injury claim, contact us at The Solomon Law Group for a free consultation.