What to Do If You Hit a Parked Car
Given the amount of time drivers spend driving around parking lots and maneuvering in and out of tight spaces, it's not surprising that lots of accidents involve parked cars. A 2010 study by Allstate concluded that 69% of all hit-and-run accidents involved a parked car and several Colorado cities confirmed at the time that their accident statistics were similar.
So, if you hit a parked car, what should you do?
Follow the Law
First and foremost, don’t just leave the scene – that transforms your accident into a hit-a-run and it's against the law. In Colorado, leaving the scene of an accident with an unattended vehicle is a Class 2 Misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Committing a hit-a-run is not only a nasty thing to do to the parked car's owner, but a criminal conviction also won't be good for you or your car insurance premiums. In addition to possible incarceration and fines, a hit-and-run can also lead to the loss of your driver's license.
Also keep in mind that you may get caught – a witness might report the incident and many parking lot have surveillance cameras that can record video of your license plate.
Try to Find the Car's Owner
If the parking lot is at a store, go in and speak to customer service and have them announce a description of the parked car over the P.A. system and ask the driver to report to the front of the store. Another option is to stay close to the parked car for some period of time and wait for the driver to return.
Leave A Note
If you can't locate the other driver, leave a note with basic information under the parked car's windshield wiper – your name, address, phone number, and a short summary of the accident. If you were driving someone else's car, include the car's owner's information as well.
Don't admit negligence in the note ("I wasn't paying attention"), just stick to the facts ("I hit your driver's side door when I was pulling into the space"). Don't write your car insurance information on the note – you can provide that when the parked car's owner contacts you.
To protect yourself from the other driver claiming damage to his car that you didn't cause, use your smartphone to take photos of the parked car's license plate and the damage to both vehicles. Take the photos from various angles and make sure the lighting is sufficient to capture detail (use the flash function if the light is too low). If someone witnessed the accident, get their name and phone number in case your insurance company want to speak to them.
Report the Accident to the Police
Colorado law requires you to report accidents to the police, wait for the police to arrive at the scene, and assist them in completing a report. But you can complete an online report for the accident instead if:
- An officer does not arrive within a reasonable period of time (or the police tell you they won't send an officer because of the minor nature of the accident).
- The accident only involves property damage (no physical injuries to people).
- You weren't under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- No public property was damaged in the accident.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Finally, you need to inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. The property liability coverage in your policy will pay to repair the damage to the parked car while your collision coverage will pay for the repairs to your car (after you pay the deductible).
About Levine Law
A Colorado Springs car accident lawyer can help you if you’ve been involved in an accident. At Levine Law, we have 20+ years of experience making sure that car accident victims receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries and vehicle damage. And our no/win, no/fee policy means that you pay nothing to Levine Law unless you receive compensation.