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Car Accident During a Test Drive: Who's Liable?

Maybe your search for a new car hit a bump in the road (or another car). Or maybe a prospective buyer’s “trip around the block” in your car didn’t quite go as planned. Either way, you may be wondering who is responsible for car accidents that happen during a test drive.

For the most part, these car accidents will be handled like any other — with insurance. But there may be a few quirks you should be familiar with.

Dealership Coverage

Nine times out of ten, if you are test driving a new or used car from a dealership, the dealer will have an insurance policy that covers all of the vehicles on the lot, even if you’re off the lot when an accident happens. Accidents during test drives are extremely rare, and in many cases, even if the accident is your fault, the dealership will just cover the costs of repairs through its own insurance.

However, the dealer may try to hold you liable if the accident is your fault. In that case, you can try to prove the accident wasn’t your fault or have your own insurance policy cover the damage. Most often, accidents with dealership cars are treated like accidents with rental cars.

Outside Liability

If the dealership refuses to cover the damages or if it’s your car in the test drive accident, claims would likely be treated like any other accident. If your car is damaged, you could submit the claim to your insurance company. Then you can try to recover from the person who was test driving it or the other driver(s) involved.

In this case, the first steps after the accident may be the most important. Make sure you get as much information about the accident as possible, and document everything from the damage to the other drivers’ information. You may need all of it if the drivers involved or your insurance company contests the claim and it winds up in court.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident (during a test drive or otherwise), you may want to contact an experienced injury attorney to discuss your case.

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