if someone hit my parked car

What to do if you Hit a Parked Car

Car accidents can happen anywhere, including within a parking lot or anywhere where a parked car may be present. Many hit-and-run car accidents involve a parked car. Even though this may have consisted of an individual reversing into a parked car, with no witnesses or evidence of damage, it is important to note that in such a case, you would be leaving the scene of an accident.

No matter how minor it may appear, it is a crime and can result in fines, criminal penalties, and the loss of one’s license. By knowing what to do if you hit a parked car, one can better handle such stressful situations. Proper handling of the situation will also help the insurance company process the claim efficiently, allowing all vehicles to get repaired quickly and back on the road. Failure to adhere to the law can result in the insurance carrier not covering repair costs, and force you to pay out of pocket for repairs to the other car.

Driver hand examining dented car

Points to Remember When You Hit a Parked Car

Wait for the Owner

One should never leave the scene of an accident, but rather wait by the car for a reasonable amount of time to let the car’s owner know what happened. One could even enter nearby stores or businesses within the parking lot to look for the owner. Waiting for the owner to arrive negates the situation from being classified as a hit and run accident, and it becomes less a legal matter and more an issue for the parked car insurance and your insurance provider to work out.

A situation as such may bring about a range of reactions from the owner of the parked car, such as shock or frustration. For this reason, it is advised to always stay calm and let them know you accept responsibility for the damage. One can then exchange contact and insurance information. Make sure you have their license plate number and the contact details for their insurance company in states where a mini-tort may apply.

Mother and daughter frustrated at damage to parked car

Remember the Law

Hitting a parked car does not make one a criminal but leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in every state and can be classified as a hit-and-run. The consequences of such actions can be severe such as jail time, and community service and police may even suspend one’s license and/or registration.

If No One Arrives, Leave a Note

In the case that one can’t find the owner, one must leave a note on the car before leaving the scene. The note should provide the following details:

  • Your Name
  • Your Contact Information
  • Your Auto Insurance Policy Information
  • An Explanation of what happened

After this, one can now legally leave the area, and the owner can choose to make contact if they want to receive compensation for the damages incurred.

Look for Witnesses

If one can find a witness and obtain a witness statement, this is a great way to support one’s record of the accident. One can write the witness’s statement down on paper or a mobile phone so have a witness write and sign a brief statement. When doing this, it is vital to get the name and contact information of all witnesses. Having witnesses can help the claims process for all vehicles involved.  When they provide a brief explanation of what they saw, potential witnesses can eliminate certain ambiguities in the claimant’s description.

Parked van bumper damage

Take Pictures

Making a thorough record of the accident includes taking photographic evidence. This can be done by using one’s cellular phone to take pictures of the impact zone or damage to each car. One should also take pictures of the area where the accident occurred and the surroundings. Take pictures of the damaged vehicle from several angles, as well as photos of the parking lot.  Also, take photos of the parking space line indicators and the license plate number of the other vehicle. Try to make note if security cameras are present.

It is advised to print out or back up these pictures as soon as possible in case anything happens to the phone used to take pictures, as these pictures will be crucial evidence in any legal matter. You can also provide these images to your insurance company and the insurance carrier of the car’s owner.

Young woman inspecting damage to parked car

Contact the Police

If one hits a parked car and the damages to the other vehicle are severe, it is recommended that one contacts the police. Since it’s difficult for most individuals to estimate damages, one may not know if police presence is required, but it is best to call them to be safe and cover all areas.  When dispatched to the scene, a police officer collects the information of the parties involved, assesses the damage to the vehicles, and files a police report.  This report can later identify who is at fault in the fender bender, and can also help relieve any criminal charges.

Contact Your Insurance Company

The owner of the damaged car has three years to make a property damage claim in most states. If the individual that hit a parked car notified their insurance company of the accident immediately, the insurance company may reject the insurance claim when it is made. The car insurance policy coverage may vary from state to state for a minor parking lot accident, but hit and run accidents are always violations and can result in hit and run charges.

Contact your Car Accident Attorney

If one has been involved in a traffic accident, one should get help from an experienced auto insurance attorney. No matter how big or how small the incident may be, traffic collisions as such can cause complex insurance issues, which means it’s important to understand one’s rights during the car insurance settlement process.

Coluccio Law for all the Answers!

Call us at Coluccio Law to get a free quote today or contact us online via our convenient online platform where our legal team can assist you in knowing your rights and responsibilities when you don’t know what to do if you hit a parked car. A free consultation can help avoid charges from local authorities by complying with traffic laws.  It can also help prevent having to pay fines as well as avoid civil charges from the other driver of the vehicle you accidentally hit.

Recommended Article: Finding Comfort in Justice after a Fatal Hit and Run

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