Have you ever parked on the street and returned to your car only to find a side mirror broken off or that someone has sideswiped your car and caused damage to it but found no note from the other driver? If so, you are not alone, and according to a study performed by insurer Allstate in 2010, 69% of hit-and-run incidents result from a parked car accident.
While there may be a strong urge to flee the scene of an accident if you are involved in a collision with a parked vehicle and no one is around, most states have laws requiring that a motorist leaves his or her insurance information if he or she is involved in a car accident. This is true regardless of whether the accident occurs between two moving vehicles or between a moving vehicle and a parked vehicle with no one inside it. Failing to stop after such a collision can be considered a criminal offense that often contains steep penalties in terms of both monetary fines and possible jail time because it is treated as a hit and run, which is a criminal offense and treated much the same as if you had hit an individual and not stopped.
You may be entitled to compensation for any repairs which were caused by the negligence of another driver. In addition, you may be entitled to compensation for any other out-of-pocket expenses you were forced to incur, such as a bus fare, train fare or having to miss work to take your car in for repairs. Other damages may also be available depending upon your particular circumstances.
If you are unlucky enough to be in such a scenario, you should immediately look around for potential witnesses. An employee of a nearby business could potentially have seen the accident and may be able to give you identifying information like the make and model of the fleeing vehicle or even its license plate number. Make sure to take good notes regarding whatever the witness says and also make sure to get their name(s) and contact information. Most parking lots and many intersections now have video cameras that run continuously, so you may be able to identify the culprit by asking the owner or operator of a parking lot to check the video footage. You should also call the police and file a police report describing the accident and any damages your car may have suffered. Finally, make sure to contact your insurance company about the parked car accident and keep them engaged at every step of the way.
In the alternative, if you happen to find yourself in the unlucky position of having hit a parked car, do not just tiptoe away pretending nothing happened. That is the worst thing that you could do. For all you know, there may be cameras recording you leaving the scene without leaving your insurance information or someone could be watching you doing so, all the while taking down your license plate number. Doing so may not only subject you to substantial fines but you could be facing a term of imprisonment.
Instead, if you cannot locate the owner of the damaged vehicle after first making a diligent effort to do so, report the parked car accident to your insurance company and leave a note with:
Also, make detailed notes regarding the circumstances of any mitigating circumstances involving the accident, such as a burned out streetlight or how the car was poorly parked, in order to assist in resolving any litigation and/or insurance claims which may result from the incident in your favor.
If your vehicle has been damaged in a parked car accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Many cases involving substantial damage to parked vehicles go to court, and you’ll want an experienced attorney by your side when negotiating with the driver who hit your vehicle and his or her insurance company.
Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan. Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900.