Just about everyone finds themselves at a car dealership eventually. You may visit dealerships every two to five years, or you may visit them less frequently. The point is, it’s normal to visit dealerships and take cars on test drives every two or three years.
So, what if you do visit a car dealership and you find a car, truck, or SUV that you really like? The dealer takes a photocopy of your driver’s license, you slip into the car and off the lot you go. As you’re enjoying that “new car smell,” you accidentally back up into a parked car, or you accidentally roll through a stop sign and hit another vehicle. You didn’t sign any kind of a liability waiver, so who’s on the hook for the damage? You or the dealership?
Who is Legally Liable?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but any way you look at it, you’re responsible for the accident if you caused it. Usually, the car salesman asks for the customer’s insurance card before the test drive. If the dealership made a copy of your insurance card, they can file a claim directly with your auto insurance company.
On the other hand, if you did not provide insurance information, or if you refuse to provide insurance information, or if you don’t have auto insurance, the dealership will most likely file a lawsuit against you directly. That means they can go after your personal assets.
If the other driver was clearly at-fault for the accident, then the dealership should file a claim against the legally-liable party. Hopefully, you called the police and made sure they wrote up a police report.
It would also be your responsibility to exchange information with the at-fault driver, even if you were driving a car that belonged to a dealership at the time of the accident. Such information you would need to obtain is the at-fault driver’s license plate number, insurance information, registration, driver license information, and contact information.
Next: What if I’m in an Accident and I Don’t Have Insurance?