While it is a situation no one ever hopes to encounter, if you’ve hit a parked car, taking responsibility for the accident is the right thing to do for both parties involved. And by law you are required to report the accident to the owner of the other vehicle whether it be in person or through leaving a note on their car.
The laws can vary from state to state, however below are the basic steps for what to do after you accidentally hit a parked car.
Don’t leave the scene.
Although tempting, especially when the damage is minor or unnoticeable, driving away and hoping nobody saw you can lead to more serious repercussions if you are caught. In every state, it is against the law to leave the scene when you accidentally hit a parked car and can be considered a hit and run in some cases. No matter how strong the urge to make a quick getaway, don’t do it! From a moral, legal, and financial standpoint, it pays to stick around and do the right thing.
Try to find the owner.
The law doesn’t expect you to wait around all day for the owner of the other vehicle to appear. You are, however, required to make a reasonable attempt to find that owner before leaving. For example, if someone saw the accident, ask if they know who the car belongs to. If the car is parked right in front of a store, go inside and ask if anyone knows who the owner of the car is. Otherwise, wait around 10 or 15 minutes to see if the owner appears. If not, you can legally drive away after leaving your name and contact information.
Leave a note.
If you can’t find the owner of the parked car you hit, the next step is to leave a note for them. Most states require the note to include your name, address, contact number, and a brief explanation of the accident. You may also want to include the name and contact information of your insurance carrier. If you were driving someone else’s car, include the name and address of the car’s owner as well.
Describe the accident in a general way, as any information in the note can be used against you when the insurance companies are settling the claim. Make sure the note is tucked securely under the windshield wiper before driving away.
Document the damage.
Use a camera or your cell phone to take photos or video of the other car’s license plate and the auto body damage to both cars. If you don’t have your phone with you, describe the damage in the note you leave behind, and write it down for your insurance company as well.
Call your insurance company.
Once you have taken all the steps to document the accident and notify the other vehicle’s owner, call your insurance company – the sooner the better. This will enable them to initiate the claims process so both vehicles can be repaired in a timely manner. Be prepared to provide all the details, such as location, time of day, and what you were doing when you struck the other vehicle.
If you have any questions, please call one of the members of Your Hometown Body Shop!