What If I Crash in New Jersey While Test Driving a New Car?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on March 14, 2024  in Car Accident News. Updated on April 10, 2024

Women in a car checking out car features.Test driving a new car is an exciting opportunity for drivers to get a feel for a vehicle and explore its features. However, what if you get into a crash while out on a test drive? Consumers looking for a new car may have many questions about how to handle this situation, including whether the dealership’s insurance will cover the damage.

Lynch Law Firm, PC discusses the type of insurance that covers test drive crashes and who may be at fault. Also, we explain some important steps victims should take after a crash.

If you have been injured after a crash due to another party’s negligence, we encourage you to seek legal help as soon as possible. Our experienced car accident attorneys in New Jersey are prepared to answer your legal questions, and we can explain your potential legal options at no cost to you.

Request your FREE case review today. (800) 518-0508

What Should I Do If I Crash While Test Driving a Car?

If you are involved in a test drive crash, the first step we recommend is to follow standard accident procedures. This includes calling 9-1-1 to get first responders to the scene as quickly as possible. You should also get the names and contact information of all parties involved and any witnesses to the crash as well.

We recommend taking photos of the crash scene and damage to all vehicles involved, but only if it is safe to do so. If you cannot collect evidence without putting yourself or others in harm’s way, this is something an attorney can help you with. For instance, we do not recommend exiting your vehicle if you are close to moving traffic.

Additional steps should include:

  • Checking yourself and others for injuries
  • Moving your vehicle to a safe location if you are too close to traffic
  • Reporting the crash to local police by calling 9-1-1
  • Informing your insurance company
  • Notifying the dealership
  • Calling an attorney for legal help

What Type of Insurance May Cover Crash Damages During a Test Drive?

During a test drive, the insurance that applies may vary. As with most crashes, liability for damage depends on who caused the crash and other contributing factors.

Dealership Insurance

Dealerships usually have fleet insurance that covers minor damages from test driving accidents, regardless of who is at fault. However, if the damage is severe and you are found to be at fault, the dealership might file a third-party claim with your insurance company.

Your New Jersey No Fault Insurance

New Jersey is a no-fault state, so regardless of who caused the crash, you would initially file an injury claim through your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This coverage helps to compensate you for medical expenses and other financial losses related to the crash.

You may be able to seek additional compensation for pain and suffering damages, depending on certain circumstances, including whether you selected the basic or standard insurance policy. Drivers who purchase New Jersey’s basic insurance policy coverage do not have the option to sue an at-fault party for additional damages.

If you purchased the standard New Jersey insurance policy, however, you may be eligible to pursue additional damages in cases of death, permanent injuries and for pain and suffering.

What Other Parties Could Be Liable for a Test Drive Crash?

In some cases, there may be other parties who could be held liable for additional losses you sustained in the crash.

Another Driver

Another driver may be liable for a crash if their actions caused the collision, such as by:

  • Drifting into your lane and sideswiping the vehicle you were driving.
  • Driving through a red light and hitting the dealer’s vehicle in the intersection
  • Rear-ending the dealer’s vehicle after becoming distracted by something else.

The Dealership

The dealership could also be liable for a crash if the salesperson or representative allowed a reckless individual to test drive a vehicle. If a test-driver is noticeably intoxicated, the dealership could be liable if they allowed that individual to get behind the wheel.

Could I Be Liable for the Damages?

Liability for a car crash is determined by negligence, such as failing to follow traffic laws. For example, if you cause a crash after ignoring a stop sign. In that situation, you would likely be fully liable for damages resulting from that crash.

That said, even if you think you were partially to blame; you should never admit fault to anyone except your attorney. You could be wrong about being liable for the crash, or someone else may share some of the fault. This is why you should let crash scene investigators do their job and determine who was at fault.

To avoid saying anything that can be used against you to devalue your claim, you should not say statements like these:

  • It was my fault.
  • I did not see the other car.
  • I should have stopped sooner.
  • I am sorry.

After being involved in a crash during a test drive, we recommend that you consult with an attorney before you talk to the insurance company. Insurers will attempt to get you to take at least some responsibility for the crash. If successful, they may have a valid argument for reducing the value of your claim.

Is There Leniency for Test Driving an Unfamiliar Car?

There are no specific laws that get drivers off the hook for causing a crash just because a driver is unfamiliar with the vehicle he or she is driving. Even when operating a car you do not own, you still have a legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid causing harm to others.

Tips for Drivers Before Test Driving a Car

Although it is rare to get into a crash while test driving a car, it does not hurt to take safety measures to help prevent it.

You should take these steps before test driving any car:

  • Take a moment to get familiar with vehicle features, such as signals, windshield wiper or headlight controls.
  • Drive around the lot to get the feel of the steering wheel, acceleration and other handling features of the vehicle before leaving the dealership lot.
  • Ask your insurance company questions before test driving any vehicle to understand your coverage and how it protects you during a test drive.
  • Ask the dealership about the insurance coverage they provide during a test drive.
  • Ask the salesperson to explain the car’s unique features or functionality.
  • Avoid distraction from your phone or any electronic devices.
  • If the dealership asks you to sign a waiver before going out, be sure to read it fully and ask them to explain anything you do not understand.

Call Lynch Law Firm, PC for Legal Help Today

Trying to handle the aftermath of a car crash on your own can be overwhelming, especially if you are trying to recover from serious injuries.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are committed to supporting our clients through the challenging experience of navigating a car crash claim. If you have been injured by the negligence of another driver and need legal counsel, we strongly encourage you to call our law offices.

Our knowledgeable auto accident attorneys in New Jersey have been helping injured crash victims for decades. We have a proven history of success, and we are ready to fight for full compensation on your behalf.

If we determine that you have a case and you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid if we win your case.

Call us for a FREE case review today. (800) 518-0508

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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