Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Car Accident While Test Driving

Question by Anonymous, Tacoma, WA:

I took a car home from the dealership. The financing had not gone through yet but the dealer said he would take care of everything. I took the car for a drive with friends and turned down a gravel road at night. A deer ran out in front of the car and when I swerved I ended up in an unmarked construction ditch. No police were called to the scene and the car was able to be pulled out of the ditch, but could not be driven home. The car is home now and I need to know what to do.

Answer by Attorney Keith Taylor:

First you should consult a lawyer familiar with your state law. In Florida, the operator of the vehicle would be responsible for their negligence. From the facts you describe, I don't see any negligence on your part. You had permission to drive the vehicle, and the deer running in front is like a tree falling on the vehicle (not your fault). The dealership most likely has insurance, but may have a deductible which they will try to push you for. Your paperwork may have had some kind of strict liability language making you responsible even without negligence, which is why I recommend you see a lawyer familiar with your state's laws. It seems from your description that you have not suffered an injury. It is good for you that the significance of the problem is limited to property damage.