We’ve all been there. You’re happily driving in your brand new dream car during a test drive at a car dealership. It’s a great feeling knowing you’re about to own a new car. But, what happens if you get into a car accident during your test drive? In Arkansas, the law gives several remedies and problems that must be addressed in case of a car accident.
First, what is a test drive? A test drive is a non-committal drive of a new or used car from a car dealership to test the vehicle features by the prospective new owner. Test drives usually last 30 minutes to an hour. But, some dealerships may choose to let you keep the car overnight. Prospective car owners usually complete test drives after they have decided on a set number and kind of car to purchase. Car dealerships may vary in the requirements they set to allow prospective car owners test drive a vehicle. Usually, providing a valid driver’s license to the car dealership will allow you to test drive a new or used car. Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
Car Test Drive Crashes in Arkansas
Now, you’re ready for a test drive. Unfortunately, as soon as you leave the car dealership parking lot you’re involved in an accident. What do you do? Under Arkansas law, most of the time you do nothing. Lucky for you car dealerships are required to carry Garage Policy insurance for test drive accidents.
Arkansas Garage Policy insurance protects car dealerships from test drive accidents. Garage Policies were “originally designed to insure the risks associated with businesses which sell, service, store, or park vehicles designed for on road use.” These policies may provide coverage in these types of accidents if an employee of the car dealership is inside of the car during the test drive. It constitutes temporary permission of the car dealership to loan the prospective car buyer insurance coverage while test driving their car.
But, if a prospective car owner wants to conduct an overnight test drive, the dealership may ask for the prospective car owner’s insurance. If the accident occurs on the overnight test drive, the prospective car owner may be held liable for all damages since the car dealership was not involved in the accident. Each dealership has varying degrees of insurance coverage allowed by the Garage Policy. Check with your attorney first before completing an overnight test drive to find out if you will be held liable for any car accidents.
Here too, you may be held liable for the car accident if you are totally at fault for the accident. Car dealerships have the right to seek recovery in damages from you if you are solely negligent during the test drive. This is usually not the case. But, to be safe, make sure you own insurance that can cover your expenses in case of a car accident.
Relief is good. But, what happens if you’re driving a personally owned uninsured used car? Don’t do it. Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable car dealership at all times or problems may occur. Alternatively, you may work to arrange for a policy to cover the test drive but such action should only be taken by a legal professional.
Understanding Car Accidents in Arkansas and How to Protect Yourself
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 30,057 fatal car crashes in the United States in 2013. Arkansas itself had 446 fatal crashes in 2013. Out of all of these car accidents, a very small percentage involves test drive car accidents. Chances are you are not going to be in a car accident during a test drive. But, better safe than sorry. Take precautions.
Secondly, to avoid all conflicts, you must drive safely in the first place! Don’t let the excitement of driving in your dream car ruin the wonderful experience by being involved in a car accident. Usually, the car salesman will be riding in the car with you explaining details of the car while you drive. Don’t let him or her distract you. Turn the music off and focus on the road. The whole point of a test drive is experiencing your new car behind the wheel for the first time.
If you can, bring a friend along with you for the ride. An eyewitness to the accident can always help you if held liable for a car accident. But, in most cases, rest assured you have protection during your test drive. Plus, it will be more fun having someone you trust by your side checking out the prospective car purchase as you drive.
If involved in a test drive car accident, act quickly to obtain an attorney specializing in car accidents. This may be a criminal or personal injury attorney depending on who was involved in the accident. You could always be hit by an intoxicated driver, driver without a license or be subjected to severe personal injury damages in the accident. Attorneys can help solve all of these problems for you. If the car dealership pursues legal action against you, you must hire an attorney to defend yourself. The Law Practice of Ken Kieklak can represent you. To schedule a confidential and free consultation, call (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.
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