What do I do if my parked car is hit and no one claims responsibility?

Sun, Jul 15, 2012

General Legal Issues

Everyone dreads leaving their cars parked in parking lots. The possibility of it being damaged is high these days—due to crowded lots or people not paying attention. Parking lot claims are common and not always easy to solve. If someone hits your parked car and drives off without leaving their information, what should you do?

First off, it is often a good idea to forego that prime spot right up front, if it puts your car in the main thoroughfare of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. That is often the worse spot to park because it is the busiest spot. Sometimes it is best just to pick that spot a little farther out. An exception to this advice would be when it is more dangerous to walk in the lot than it is to take a chance that your car will be hit—use common sense when parking. Always make sure you find a safe parking spot that is in a well-lit area. If a little longer of a walk will be ok, pick a spot where you and your car will feel safe.

So, you have found a good spot for your car, lock it, and leave. Now it is all alone. People are walking by, backing up, and pulling in. Some lots are just not built for large vehicles and sometimes drivers are not built to park in tight spaces. It could be inevitable that someday your car will be hit in the parking lot. I hope that if this happens a responsible and ethical driver will do it. They should leave contact information at the least. It would be best if they can wait for you to come back or search you out. At the minimum, a driver who is in accident should provide the following in the form of a note safely placed on the vehicle:

·Name

·Address

·Phone Numbers

·Insurance Company Contact Info

This info is gathered from the Florida DMV’s site. The link to their form for driver information exchange is here. It might be helpful to print copies of it to have handy for auto accidents.

If your car is hit and no one leaves information, then you are going to have a little more difficulty finding the person responsible. Talk to the people around the scene of the accident and go into the building/place/event you were parked at to see if anyone reported seeing something. Call law enforcement to report the incident. Take pictures and notes. Your insurance agent should also be on the list of people to call, so you can discuss the next steps for repair of your car and report the incident to your insurance company.

Now, if you are the one who hit a parked vehicle, be sure you at least leave a note with the proper information. A hit and run can have serious legal implications. Calling law enforcement to report it and notifying management at the place you were parking are also great ways to protect yourself. Also, note details about the scene, the date and time, the damages, etc. Grabbing a witness is also a good idea. Taking photos and videos with your cell phone would be prudent. Be prepared for an angry victim and keep a cool head.

SmithLaw cannot predict how a situation like this will be resolved, as this depends on the specific circumstances of a case. Each law enforcement agency will handle these things differently, as will each insurance company. Hopefully, it is something you will never experience—but trust you are not alone in this experience. In addition, note that this blog is about hitting parked, unoccupied vehicles and do not apply it to other types of accidents or those involving injury.

Image: Some rights reserved by N.J. Lee

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