The Florida Highway Patrol has launched an investigation into a fatal accident that involved a vehicle owned by a local car dealership. Based on the preliminary investigation, the FHP reported, it seems the vehicle was being taken for a test drive, with the employee and two passengers inside.
The crash, which occurred in Stuart, about 90 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale, killed an 83-year-old man named Donald Maloney, who was a passenger in the Honda CR-V. That Honda had just been taken out for a test drive, though the dealership employee was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, according to WPBF ABc-25 News.
Investigators say the dealership employee was traveling south and then turned left at an intersection – and into a Chevy Tahoe. The sport utility vehicle impacted the passenger vehicle on the right front passenger seat. That’s where Maloney was sitting. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
What officials aren’t sure of at this point is the color of that light at the time the car dealership employee made the turn.
The two other people in the CR-V were transported to a local hospital, as were two individuals who were inside the SUV. None of their injuries appear to be life-threatening.
Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys know cases like this raise the question: Does insurance follow the driver or the car?
In this situation, assuming the crash was the fault of the dealership employee driver, damages would almost certainly be paid by the dealership’s insurance company. That’s because the dealership would be liable for injuries resulting from the negligent actions of an employee who was acting in the course and scope of employment. Returning customers from a test drive would certainly qualify as something that occurred on-the-job.
However, there are a fair number of cases in which individuals who are test-driving vehicles are the ones behind the wheel at the time of the crash. This makes sense when you consider that it may be the first time the driver has been behind the wheel of that type of vehicle. They are still getting acquainted with the various controls and operating systems.
In these cases, liability would depend heavily on the circumstances. Generally, the at-fault party is responsible to pay for damages. Car dealerships do secure coverage for their vehicles, regardless of who is driving. So if a person test-driving a vehicle causes a crash, it’s possible those in the other vehicle could demand compensation from the dealership. The dealership might pay that amount, but then in turn demand reimbursement from the driver and/or the driver’s personal insurance policy.
Usually, dealerships require potential buyers to sign forms prior to the test drive that confer liability for damages from the dealership to the driver. But that wouldn’t apply in this instance, as it was the dealership employee behind the wheel.
In a case where another driver is at-fault and injures the test-driver, the test-driver may be able to collect compensation from both the at-fault driver and the dealership insurance.
Where there is a serious accident resulting in severe injuries or a death, lawsuits often result in damage awards that exceed policy limits.
Much is going to depend on who is involved, what insurance policies are applicable and how the accident occurred. Our personal injury lawyers can help victims sort through the aftermath.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
FHP Troopers Investigate Fatal Crash Involving Dealership Car in Stuart, Dec. 2, 2015, By Angela Rozier, WPBF, ABC-25 News
More Blog Entries:
Car Insurance Study: Florida No. 1 for Careless Driving, Nov. 28, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog