Find out the steps you should take following a crash or collision with a parked vehicle. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal hit and run offense, so be sure to follow your state’s accident reporting requirements. Visit Enjuris.com to find a lawyer near you if you have questions about your rights.
Hello, I'm Lance, editor of Enjuris.com. And one of the most common questions we get asked is what should I do if I hit a parked car? If you hit an unattended vehicle in a parking lot or public street, first and foremost, you should pull over and stop your car, since leaving the accident scene is considered a hit and run, which is a criminal offense that can lead to penalties such as fines, loss of your license and even jail time, depending on where you live.
Next, you should try to locate the owner of the vehicle, but don't go too far. Consider asking eyewitnesses if they know who the owner is, or checking inside nearby businesses. If you can't locate the owner, be sure to follow your state's minimum accident reporting requirements by leaving a note with your name, address, phone number and a brief description of what happened.
We suggest leaving the note under the windshield wiper so that it doesn't blow away. Be sure to research the accident reporting laws in your state before leaving the scene. While you're at the scene of the accident, we also recommend using your phone to take pictures and video of the damage to the parked vehicle as well as your own car. Be sure to take a picture of the note you placed on the other vehicle too, to show that you followed the law. This evidence may come in handy later if there's a dispute over how much damage occurred.
After leaving the accident scene, notify your auto insurance company of the incident. Yes, your insurance rates may go up as a result, but this helps protect you if the owner of the other vehicle files a claim. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company and the claim is filed, then your insurer may use this as a reason to deny coverage, meaning that you'd have to pay for damages out of pocket.
Lastly, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury attorney near you to discuss your legal options. This is especially important if the damage to either vehicle is extensive or if the other person is requesting compensation for damages unrelated to the accident, or if your insurance company denies or delays coverage. If you hit a parked car and already left the scene without leaving the required information then it's probably in your best interest to speak with the local defense attorney, since being charged with the hit and run is a criminal offense. They can give you advice on how to communicate with police and protect your legal rights. For help locating an attorney in your area, we invite you to visit Enjuris.com