Even when you make an effort to be careful, accidents will always happen from time to time. Perhaps one of the most frequent mistakes is the bashing of a parked car. While these accidents are usually not that bad in terms of human losses, they can definitely cause a lot of financial loss. This is particularly true for the driver who is deemed to be at fault. Should you find yourself in this unenviable situation, you should follow this list of tips to help you deal with the situation in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Understand That You Are Probably At Fault
Before we go any further, you should understand one important fact: This incident is probably your fault. Admitting fault is never easy, but striking a parked car puts you in a bad legal position. Even if there is a legitimate explanation for the accident, the blame will most likely be yours. After all, the other driver wasn’t even present at the time. If they were present, the car would probably have been switched off already. It’s pretty hard to blame someone who wasn’t even doing anything at the time.
That being said, there are some instances in which you may not be at fault. If the other driver can be shown to have parked their vehicle in an unsafe location or manner, you would then have a solid basis on which to deny fault. Make sure that your attorney goes over the parking laws in the area where the accident occurred, as this could give you a way out of trouble.
You might also be deemed faultless if you were affected by circumstances beyond your control. For instance, let’s say you swerve to avoid a pedestrian or a deer, hitting a parked car in the process. In that situation, you can reasonably deny fault because you had to choose the lesser of two accidents.
What Is The First Priority After Hitting A Parked Car?
Obviously, your priority after an accident should be the health and safety of all involved. Check yourself over to see if you’ve been hurt. You might even want to get out of the car and walk around for a minute just to make sure you’re alright. If you did suffer some kind of injury, it needs to be reported at the scene. Otherwise, you will find it nearly impossible to obtain compensation in any form.
Never Leave The Scene Without Making A Report
After the shock of an impact, it might be tempting to leave the scene immediately. On a deep, subconscious level, you know that you just made a big mistake. However, you must resist the urge to panic and run. Instead, you must take responsibility for your actions and do what is needed.
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a “hit and run” accident. Thus, you probably know that you don’t want to be on the guilty side of this situation. Fleeing the scene of an accident will expose you to the very real possibility of legal penalties, including fines or even jail time. At the very least, it will cause you to be judged as being “at fault” regardless of anything. Even your insurance company is unlikely to defend this kind of behavior, as it could affect their reputation.
How To Report The Accident
The owner of the car will probably be away from the vehicle at the time of the impact, which creates a small complication. The law usually allows a person to leave a note at the scene of an accident if the other party cannot be found. The note should contain your full name, your contact information, and a short explanation. This is the bare minimum required by law.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to go with the bare minimum. You should also see if there are any witnesses in the immediate area. If so, try to get their information so that you can contact them later. When this incident is investigated, a few witnesses can make the whole thing much easier. Once you have taken care of this matter, your next call should be the police. In many states, the law requires you to file an accident report in order to avoid being charged with a “hit and run.”
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, you should go ahead and take some pictures of the damage. Make sure you take plenty of good pictures from many different angles and make sure you get pictures of both vehicles. Even if you are at fault, it will still be helpful to do this. By documenting the amount of damage that occurred, you can help to ensure that you are charged only for the damage that you have caused. If your phone is able to film good videos, you might want to get a few of those as well.
As we said before, you are probably at fault in a situation like this. However, you should never admit fault at the scene. This is a common mistake that must be avoided, as it will kill any chance of a favorable outcome. There is always the chance that things could go your way, so stay calm and tell the truth. The determination of fault is out of your hands anyway, so there’s no sense in making too many assumptions.
Inform Your Insurance Company And Your Attorney
The next step is to call your insurance company and inform them of the accident. They will probably ask a lot of questions and demand a lot of specifics, and it’s important to tell them everything they need to know. Any dissembling or avoidance on your part will make you seem as if you’re trying to hide something, and that isn’t what you want. If your insurance company thinks you are doing that kind of thing, they are not likely to contest your claim to the best of their ability. Instead, they will cut their losses and increase your premiums.
The insurance company will most likely want to get a copy of the police report. This is one of the reasons that we advised you to call the police earlier. Without a report, there is no official documentation that the accident even occurred. In most cases, the police report will have a lot to do with how the case proceeds. This report probably won’t be available right away because the police will need a few days to file and process the report. After this, it will be available for purchase at the police station. Prices vary a lot from locality to locality, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $10 and $20 in most places.
There is always the chance that this matter could go to court. While most accidents do not require this level of litigation, the risk is always present. As such, you need to inform your lawyer about your situation as soon as possible. In fact, you might want to call your attorney before you call the police or anyone else. They will be able to give you advice regarding the law in your area so that you can avoid doing anything that will make the situation worse.
What If You Fled The Scene?
As we mentioned before, an auto accident can trigger a panic response in some people. When this happens, the natural reaction is to remove oneself from a bad situation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the proper way to handle an auto accident.
If you do flee the scene of the accident in a panic, it is crucial that you regain your normal state of mind quickly. Park your car in a safe spot, take a few deep breaths, and compose yourself. Realize that the accident was probably caught on camera and/or observed by witnesses. Thus, you cannot simply run away from the problem.
It is important to leave a note on the windshield as recommended earlier. Take a picture of the note after you have placed it under the windshield wiper. This way, you can document the fact that you made every effort to inform the owner. If you go back and the parked car is gone, your situation is a little more serious. Contact your attorney immediately and seek advice on what to do next.
If The Driver Is Nearby
If the owner of the other car is in the immediate area at the time of the accident, you won’t need to bother with leaving a note. Instead, you should first check and see if that person requires medical attention. If neither you nor the other driver requires medical attention, you will need to exchange information and call the police. This information should include not only full names and contact information but also insurance information. In the end, this is going to come down to one thing: A dispute between two insurance companies regarding who will pay and how much they will pay.
There is no way to sugar-coat this situation. Hitting a parked car is a mistake that can definitely cost you a lot of money. That being said, there is nothing you can do except stay calm, tell the truth, and let the situation play out. Still, we hope that this list of tips has given you a little more preparation for this situation. If so, feel free to fill out the contact form below for more of our expert advice.