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What to Do When You Hit a Parked Car

You backed up too quickly and slammed into the car parked behind you. You don't see any witnesses and the damage to the other car doesn't look that bad. Although it can be tempting to drive away, don't do it. Leaving the scene of even a minor accident can result in fines, criminal penalties, and the loss of your licenses.

Although any car accident can be stressful, handling a minor collision doesn't need to be complicated. This article explains what to do when you hit a parked car.

Wait for the Owner

Think being in a car accident is bad for your insurance rates, being found guilty of a hit and run is much worse. Up to six points can be added to your driver's record and you could even face criminal charges. Although you may not see any witnesses to the collision, you can't be certain no one is watching.

If you hit a parked car, don't leave the scene. Wait by the car for a reasonable amount of time so you can let the owner know what happened. If you are in a store or business parking lot, go inside and look for the owner.

When you speak with the car's owner, understand that they may be shocked or frustrated by the news. Stay calm. Let them know you take responsibility for the damage and exchange contact and insurance information.

Leave a Note

If you can't find the owner, you must leave a note on the car before you leave the scene. Provide the following details:

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • Your auto insurance policy information
  • An explanation of what happened

You can now legally leave the area, and the owner can choose to contact you if they want compensation for the damage.

Look for Witnesses

Obtaining witness statements is a great way to support your account of the accident. Use your cell phone to record a brief description of what they observed. You can also have a witness write and sign a brief statement while you wait. Be sure to get the name and contact information of all witnesses.

Take Pictures

It's important to create a complete record of the accident. Use your phone to take pictures of the impact zone on each car. You should also take a few pictures of the area where the accident occurred.

Phones can get lost or damaged. So it's a good idea to print out or back-up these pictures as soon as you can.

If your accident is near a storefront, ask the store owner for security footage of the parking lot, if any, and request that they preserve the footage or provide you with a copy

Call the Police

If there's significant damage to the other vehicle, many state laws require you to call the police. Since it's difficult for the average person to estimate damage, you may not know if police presence is required. Play it safe. Call your local police department and ask.

Contact Your Insurance Company

You may believe that if the car owner doesn't call back, you don't need to contact your insurance company. This is a bad idea. The owner of the damaged car has two to three years to make a property damage claim. If you fail to immediately notify your insurance company of an accident, they can refuse the claim. Your rates shouldn't be affected just because you admitted to hitting another vehicle.

Discuss Your Car Accident with an Attorney

It's generally not against the law to be involved in a traffic accident, but it does create responsibilities that must be taken seriously. If you've been involved in a traffic collision, you can get help from an experienced auto insurance attorney. Even a minor traffic collision can cause complex insurance issues. It's important to understand your rights during the car insurance settlement process.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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