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Hitting a Parked Car – What’s the Next Step?

In parking lots especially, it can be sometimes challenging to maneuver carefully. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen, and we have to deal with the consequences. Accidents involving a parked vehicle can be nearly as terrifying as those involving moving vehicles, and confusing as to how to deal with them. Some peoples’ first instinct when they hit a parked car is to flee the scene. Even though this is a simple flight response, we must go against our instincts and do the right thing. Imagine if you came back out from the grocery store only to find a huge dent in the side of your car; it would be infuriating to find your car without any explanation or reimbursement for the damages caused to you by an irresponsible driver. Accidents will happen, but it’s how the accident is handled that determines one’s character. If you accidently hit a parked car, it is not unreasonable to wish it never happened. However much you wish it to go away, it must be dealt with; so here are some easy steps to follow that will help you through the situation more gracefully.

Don’t flee from that place

The first thing is do not leave the scene of the accident. Depending on the state, this is considered a misdemeanor hit-and-run violation. Generally you will have to pay a large fee at the very least, and could result in more substantial methods of punishment like facing time in jail. No ounce of awkwardness and discomfort is worth dealing with the consequences of fleeing the scene of the accident. Do everything you can to find the owner of the vehicle, and if you can’t find them, wait for them as long as possible. A face-to-face exchange of information is always best in these situations, if nothing else, to apologize to the owner for the inconvenience. The basic information that should be included in the exchange is generally: name, number, and address. If you do not get to see the individual in person and must leave the scene, you must leave your information behind for the owner to find, typically in a note on their windshield. However, keep in mind that anything you say in writing can be used against you later.

Keep instant evidence

Luckily, modern technology has afforded us the ability to take instant evidence of the event, the result of the accident, and testimony of any nearby witnesses of the accident. Taking pictures of the damage is essential—knowing exactly what damage was there at the time keeps you responsible for only the current damage on the vehicle, and nothing after the fact. Witnesses that may have seen what happened can provide a more objective view of the accident and give a testimony of the details of the incident. With permission of the witness, you may want to videotape their statement. In the instance of a car accident where the other vehicle owner is not present, it is best to have as many unbiased opinions on record as possible. Furthermore, if there is visible damages to either vehicle, sometimes getting the police involved is the smartest decision—they can take note of witness statements and record the incident formally.

Cars in a Row

Last advice

Finally, you must call your insurance company; you know, the one you pay every month? Well, this is finally the time to exhaust your resource. Unfortunately, you will have to pay your deductible first, and any damages after that cost will be covered by your insurance. Luckily, this also includes property damage. Any accident on your record is undesirable for insurance rate purposes; however, the amount that your rate increases is dependent upon several factors. If the damage sustained to either vehicle exceeds 750 dollars, it is a general rule that you should resist filing a claim and simply pay for the expenses yourself. If you go through your insurance company, you will most likely end up paying more monthly for your insurance rate, as this type of accident is generally considered an “at-fault” incident—meaning, you are responsible for the damages sustained to the vehicles. Hitting a parked car is alarming and traumatic. Going through this process can be stressful, so remember these few tips to help make it all go more smoothly.