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What If I Crash While Test-driving or Borrowing Vehicles in New Jersey?
Alright, let’s talk about something that’s rarely discussed but could happen to anyone. Imagine you’re in New Jersey, excited to test drive that new car you’ve been eyeing, or perhaps borrowing a friend’s vehicle. But then, unexpectedly, you find yourself in a crash. What next? Whose insurance will cover it?
Car Insurance in New Jersey
New Jersey, like most states, requires every vehicle owner to have car insurance. This insurance usually covers damages to the car and potential injuries, even if someone other than the owner is driving, like in the case of test drives or borrowed vehicles.
Liability Laws in New Jersey
Now, when it comes to who pays for what after an accident, New Jersey follows what’s known as a “no-fault” system. Basically, regardless of who caused the accident, your insurance policy will cover your own injuries. But what about the damage to the car, especially if it isn’t yours?
Factors That Affect Liability
Several factors come into play to determine who’s liable. Here’s a breakdown:
Type of Permission
Did you have permission to drive the vehicle? If the car owner gave you explicit permission (like during a test drive or when borrowing a friend’s car), their insurance would likely cover the damages. But remember, this all depends on the insurance policy details.
This is a fancy term that means the car owner shouldn’t have lent you the car in the first place. Maybe they knew the brakes were faulty, or perhaps they were aware you didn’t have a license. If it’s proven that lending the car was negligent, the car owner might be held responsible for the crash.
Included and Excluded Drivers
Insurance policies sometimes list names of individuals who are explicitly covered or not covered while driving the insured vehicle. So, if you’re borrowing a car, it’s good to check this list. If you’re not covered and end up in an accident, you might be personally liable for the damages.
Now, here’s a clear-cut case. If the vehicle was stolen and the thief crashes it, the vehicle’s owner is generally not held liable. The thief, if caught, would be responsible for the damages, but as you can imagine, getting compensation in this scenario can be challenging.
Whose Insurance Covers Damages?
Let’s imagine you’re out and about, and bam, you’re involved in a car accident. One of the first thoughts that might cross your mind is, “Who’s going to pay for this mess?” In many cases, the insurance of the person who caused the accident (the at-fault driver) will cover the damages. However, there can be exceptions, and this depends on the insurance policies in place and the state’s laws.
What If the Responsible Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
So, what happens if the driver responsible for the crash doesn’t have insurance? A scary thought, right? If you live in a state with “uninsured motorist coverage” (like New Jersey), your own insurance might cover the damages. But remember, this will only apply if you’ve added that particular coverage to your insurance plan.
What If the Liable Insurer Is Refusing to Pay?
Let’s make it a bit more complicated. What if the insurance company of the person who hit you is giving you a hard time or refusing to pay? It can be frustrating, but it’s not a dead end. First, you might want to try negotiating with them. If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the state’s insurance department or consider legal action.
How Helpful an Attorney Can Be in Getting Liabilities?
Now, I’ve got to tell you, having an attorney in such situations can be a game-changer. An attorney knows the ins and outs of the law and can help you get what you deserve. They can negotiate with insurance companies, guide you on the right steps to take, and represent you if things go to court. Even if you’re unsure about your rights or what to do next, consulting an auto accident attorney can offer clarity.
Who Pays for the Damage to My Car When a Friend Is Driving?
Typically, if your friend caused the accident while driving your car, your car insurance would cover the damages. But this depends on your specific policy and its terms.
Can someone drive my car if they are not on my insurance in NJ?
In New Jersey, someone can drive your car if they have your permission. However, if they cause an accident, your insurance might be the primary source to cover the damages.
Does Car Insurance Follow the Vehicle or the Driver?
Generally, car insurance follows the vehicle. So, if someone borrows your car and gets into an accident, your insurance would typically be the first to cover the damages, not the driver’s insurance. However, policies can vary, so always double-check.
Getting into a car accident and dealing with insurance can feel like a maze. But remember, while every situation can be unique, there are paths to follow and resources available. Whether it’s understanding who’s liable, navigating the world of insurance, or seeking legal advice, being informed is your best ally. And as always, driving carefully reduces the chances of facing these issues in the first place.