Buying a new car has crossed your mind several times. You’ve navigated the traditional sites and looked through options. The reviews and opinions of others have been taken into consideration as you narrow down the list of possible cars. As you choose between a new or pre-owned vehicle, the thrill of driving something more akin to your personality sets in. You are finally convinced! As you pull into one of the many VW dealerships in New Jersey, you are determined to drive out of there with a brand new red convertible that has been the object of your obsession for the past few weeks. The car is in reverse, and the test drive begins. While moving past the first light, the momentum felt by the force of Newton’s laws of motion signals a major problem: someone just rear-ended the test drive vehicle! What do you do now?
Remain Calm and Assess the Situation
The first step in any accident, regardless of who owns the vehicle or which insurance company will cover the damages is to check for injuries. Make sure that passengers are safe. If no one needs special attention, proceed to move the vehicles involved to a safe location and avoid further danger. Vehicles should not be in travel lanes as blocking the normal flow of traffic can increase the odds of making a bad situation even worse. Once the vehicles involved are out of the way, call for help. If anyone is injured, be sure to contact an ambulance or dial 911.
As you wait for a responding officer to arrive, being the process of exchanging information. Make sure to obtain license plate, make, model, and color of all vehicles involved, as well as the information of the other drivers. Such information should include name, driver’s license number, insurance company, and policy number. Apart from obtaining the data from the other driver, make a note of how the accident occured. Write down as much as you can remember as the details may be important to your insurance company. Such data should include the exact location of the accident and the information of the police officer that responded to the accident. However, keep these details to yourself. Under no circumstances should you share what you think happened to other drivers or admit fault. Furthermore, take pictures and video as these may help during the insurance claims process.
Understand the Insurance Situation
Now that everyone is safe, and the police are on the scene, you worry about the ramifications of the situation. The car is not yours yet. Therefore, who pays for this damage? Dealerships do carry automotive insurance, and in most cases, whoever test drives the car is covered. However, the question of who is at fault can increase the complexity of the situation. Also, different states have different views on the concept of “no-fault.” Therefore, the answer to who pays is not necessarily straightforward. If the accident is completely your fault and the state laws do not protect you, then the dealership and your insurance company pay for the damages. Will the deductible increase because of the crash?
Ultimately, the situation is not as simple as just having the insurance company resolve the problem. The idea of motor vehicle accident negligence and fault is complex and may require consulting with legal experts to assist in the matter. Remember, insurance companies and dealerships have their lawyers and such professionals work for their client’s best interest. Therefore, it is wise to look for someone whose best interest is yours. Regardless of fault, if involved in an accident, seek professional advice.