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Bumped in the Parking Lot? 3 Ways to Recover for Dents, Dings

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Many drivers practice what's known as "parking by Braille": They keep moving until they feel a bump. And those bumps may be more meaningful for car owners who come back to find their cars dented and dinged.

In the best of all possible parking worlds, some sort of fairy would appear and leave a detailed note on your car -- rife with contact and insurance information -- every time your parked car was hit. However, back in the real world, you may have to get the law involved in order to get some compensation for your parking lot woes.

Here are three ways to get legal compensation for parking lot dents and dings:

1. Contract With the Car Denter/Dinger.

Let's just say that you're one of the lucky few who find that someone left a note (just like George Bluth wanted) on your dented car. You get a hold of that person ... and then what? You need to hammer out a legal agreement that ensures that your note-leaver actually follows through on his or her implied promise.

Once you've evaluated the damage to your car (which is hopefully slight) you can draft up a legal agreement which includes:

  • The names and signatures of you and the other party;
  • The amount to be paid for damage to your car;
  • Time limits for payment or repair;
  • Some remedies for non-payment; and
  • An agreement to drop all claims for damages once payment is received.

You may also draft an agreement allowing the responsible party to fix the damage themselves, but make sure that you are as precise as possible as to what is required for each party.

2. Sue in Small Claims Court.

Small claims courts typically can handle claims for damage under a certain amount (typically $5,000, though it varies by state), which should cover most dents and dings. It's fairly simple to file a claim for parking lot damage in small claims court, but you do need to have some way to contact the person who bumped into your car. If the accident happened in a commercial parking lot, try asking the lot's owner for a gander at the security footage for clues to track down your mystery dinger.

3. Submit a Claim to Insurance.

Since damage for dings and dents are typically tiny, many drivers choose not to submit a claim to insurance unless the damage is substantial. Just make sure you read your policy first.

Need More Help?

Of course, if you don't want to deal with insurance adjusters and other drivers, you can always consult an experienced car accident lawyer to figure out the best way to proceed. With the proper help, you can get compensation for a parking lot dings and dents.

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