Accidents involving a parked car are pretty common, especially in parking lots. But do you know what to do if you hit a parked car? Hint: just driving away is the wrong answer. Accidents happen, but whether someone is in the vehicle you hit or not, you are responsible and can pay a steep price—legally and with your insurance—for leaving the scene.
What to Do
Many of the steps you should take are the same as with any accident:
- First and foremost, make sure no one is injured, either in your vehicle or in the one you hit. If someone is injured, call 911 immediately.
- Check the scene and pull your car safely out of the path of traffic.
- Stay on the scene. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without reporting it. Take steps to find the other car’s driver if you can.
- For accidents with significant damage or injuries, call the police.
- If there is only minor damage and the driver doesn’t arrive, you can leave a note. Include your name, address, contact number, insurance information and a brief explanation of what happened. Leave the note in a conspicuous location, such as firmly anchored under the windshield wiper.
- Take photos of the scene and the damage to both vehicles, including the license plate of the vehicle you struck. You can also look for witnesses and get their contact information.
- Call your insurance company when you return home or as soon as is feasible.
The key difference when you hit a parked car versus an accident with another vehicle on the road is that it may be hard to find the driver of the other car depending on where the accident took place. This makes it tempting to just drive away, but if you get caught, which is likely, the penalties will be much more severe. In today’s world, it’s likely the accident was witnessed or caught on camera. If the police track you down after a hit and run, you will face legal charges and fines, and in some cases, jail time, in addition to insurance consequences.
What to Do if Your Car is Hit While Parked
If you are onsite and your parked car gets hit by another vehicle, remain calm. Accidents happen to the best of us, and getting angry will not help the situation. Take these steps:
- If your car has very minor damage, record the other driver’s name, address, contact information, vehicle make and model, license plate number and insurance information.
- If your car has potentially significant damage, or the other driver has left the scene without leaving a note, call the police. They can make a police report and may be able to pull surveillance footage from nearby cameras.
- If the other driver provided their insurance information, contact their insurance company. If they don’t resolve the issue, call your insurance company.
- Don’t let the other driver talk you into trying to work it out without insurance; if they refuse to pay for damages down the road, it may be too late to report it to your insurance company.
If you have any questions about your auto insurance or are unsure what to do after an accident, give us a call. We’ll walk you through the claims process and let you know what, if any, impact there will be on your coverage.