According to an Allstate Insurance study from 2010, 69 percent of all hit-and-runs in the U.S. involve parked cars. If you unknowingly hit a parked car, you may feel embarrassment and want to drive off. Or if your parked car was hit, it can be extremely frustrating if the person did not leave a note with any contact information. Here is how to proceed in both instances.
If you hit a parked car:
- Stay at the scene – it’s the law. Leaving the scene after you hit a parked car is considered a hit and run. Conviction of a hit and run can lead to a substantial fine, jail time or community service, and suspension of you license.
- If the owner/driver of the parked car cannot be found, leave a note. Most states require you leave a note that includes your name, address, contact number, an explanation of what happened, and if you were driving another person’s car, their name and address as well. You may want to leave your insurance information if you have it handy, as well. There’s no need to admit in writing that you weren’t paying attention or any other information that might be used against you later on when the insurance companies are settling the claim. Tuck the note securely under the windshield wiper.
- Before you leave the scene, take pictures and videos that show the condition of both cars, in addition to the license plate numbers. This can help safeguard you if the driver of the parked car claims you did more damage than you remember.
- Try to find a few witnesses. Get their contact information and take a video of their description of the hit. This will help show that you were diligent in trying to find the owner, and take responsibility for the accident.
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible so they can expedite the claims process. The property damage liability portion of your coverage will pay for damages to the parked car, while collision coverage will cover your own car, once you pay the deductible.
If your parked car was hit:
- If you get back to the parking lot from the mall and notice your car has been hit, the first thing to do is check to see if the driver is still around and collect his or her information. If the driver did not stick around, look around for a note or information the other driver may have left.
- If no note was left, check the area for any witnesses. Ask security to view footage from the parking lot and see if you can identify the other car’s license number. If you can find eyewitnesses, get their account of what happened and be sure to get their names and contact information.
- Take photos of the damage to your car expedite the claims process with your insurer.
- If the damage was bad enough, call the police. They can take a report and probably expedite the time it takes to access any surveillance cameras.
- Contact the insurance company – or both companies, if the other driver left the information in a note.