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Auto-pedestrian Accidents / Sep 18,2015

Court case applies new legal rule to test drive accident cases, P.1

When an individual is harmed in an automobile accident, it is important that they work with an experienced attorney to ensure they receive the advocacy they deserve. Part of thorough advocacy is to ensure that a defendant is able to identify all parties who were responsible for contributing to the accident and bring them into the litigation to ensure they are held accountable.

In many car accident cases, there are only two parties involved and these cases are relatively straightforward in terms of naming defendants. In other cases, things get more complicated. The plaintiff may name multiple defendants or a defendant may file a cross claim against another party. In some cases, issues can come up as to whether a defendant can rightly be held liable. Identifying who should be held accountable is therefore not always straightforward.

In a recent case, the Colorado Court of Appeals dealt with the issue of whether a dealership could be held liable for damages caused by an accident which occurred during a test drive of one of its vehicles. Apparently an employee of the dealership was riding in the vehicle while a customer tested was taking it for a test run. The accident occurred when the driver crashed into oncoming traffic, injuring another motorist.

In her complaint, the injured motorist claimed the dealership should be held accountable because the test drive constituted a “joint-venture.” Though this argument was rejected at the trial level, it was embraced on appeal. The case is actually the first time that the joint venture rule has been applied to test drive accident cases in the state of Colorado.

In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at the rule and what the decision means for personal injury litigation in such cases. 

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