There are different situations where you might either hit a parked car, or someone might hit your vehicle when it’s parked on the street or in a parking lot. Dealing with a parked car accident can be fairly simple in most cases, but in some, not so much.
So what should you do if you’re on either end of that situation?
What If Someone Hits Your Parked Car?
If you come out of a store or a business and you notice someone has hit your car, what should you do first?
The first step is to check and see if the person left a note. Most people will leave a note with their contact information if they hit a car. If there isn’t a note, look around to see if there are any witnesses. You can also check with the businesses nearby to determine if they have security cameras that may have footage of someone hitting your car and then leaving the scene.
You should take pictures of the damage to your vehicle from different angles.
It may be that the person who hit your car is still waiting for you. If so, along with getting the driver’s contact and insurance information, you should take photos of their vehicle and any possible damage, along with pictures of their license plate.
You may need these photos of damage later on if your insurance company requests them or if you decide to take legal action.
You should contact your local police department. They might not come to the scene of the accident if it’s not an emergency situation, but you can ask them to file a report of the accident. You can also ask how you can file a report.
The police department can also help you obtain security camera footage, particularly if the damage to your vehicle is significant.
Once you do all this, your next step should be contacting your insurance company.
They’ll work with you on getting an estimate for your repairs. Your insurer may have an auto body shop or mechanic they typically work with, and you can take your car there, get an estimate and the insurance company should write you a check to cover it.
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What If You Hit a Parked Car?
On the other hand, what should you do if you’re the one to hit a parked car?
Never drive away, first and foremost. Fleeing the scene of even a very minor accident can mean that you face fines, criminal penalties, or the loss of your license.
If you can, try to wait for the car owner if you hit a parked vehicle.
Try to wait for a reasonable amount of time so that you can let the person know what’s happened and give them your contact information. If you’re in a parking lot where there’s only one business or store, maybe you go in to look for them.
If you talk to the owner of the car, stay calm and unemotional. They may be angry or frustrated, but try not to let yourself get that way.
If you wait and the owner doesn’t come, or you can’t find them, you should leave a note on their vehicle before leaving.
The note should include your name, contact information, and your car insurance information. You should also put a few sentences briefly explaining what happened.
Once you’ve left a note, it’s legal to leave the scene.
Other things to do include looking for witnesses. If anyone was around and saw the accident, you might ask them if you can record them on your phone, briefly describing what they saw. You should also take pictures of the accident scene and each car’s impact zone.
If there’s significant damage to either car, you should probably call the police. You may not be able to accurately estimate the damage, so it can be a good idea to call the police and see what they say, even if they aren’t going to respond to the scene.
Finally, you should contact your insurance company even if you don’t hear from the owner of the vehicle you hit. In many states, the owner of the car you hit has anywhere from two to three years to make a claim for property damage, so you can’t be sure they won’t.
If you don’t let your insurance company know right away, they can refuse the claim. In most cases, hitting a parked car won’t automatically increase your insurance rates.