Someone hit your car and ran away? Know that you are not alone! As per CBS News reports, around one-fifth of all crashes occur in parking areas. You left your vehicle for some time in the parking lot and when you returned, you found your vehicle with considerable scratches and dents – or maybe, you were in your automobile when someone hit your vehicle in the parking lot.
So, what steps should you take if someone hits your parked vehicle?
The experienced car accident attorneys in Clermont, Florida at MANGAL, PLLC explain below what you should do in such a situation.
1. Don’t Try to Move the Car Immediately:
If there is no immediate risk, you should avoid moving your car right away. You may require assessing the scene and taking pictures. There might be crucial evidence, depicting the fault or proving the negligence of the other driver.
2. Call the Police:
According to Florida law, a driver is required to call the police if the supposed property damage in the crash is more than $500. In today’s world, that is likely the case with nearly every accident. The at-fault driver should ideally call the police. But, in the majority of parking lot accident cases, they don’t do that.
Hence, you should call the police in order to report the crash. The at-fault party may request you not to do so. They can have myriad reasons for their unwillingness to report the incident to the police, so they may even try to pay out of pocket for not calling the police.
However, you should never agree to that. The automobile insurer requires the accident report, and you may also require documentation to show what exactly happened. Moreover, a police investigation happens in an unbiased manner, which includes keen observation and documenting what happened. If the accident happened in a private parking lot, the police might not respond, but you should do your part by reporting the incident to the police.
3. Locate the At-Fault Driver:
Ideally, the driver at fault should do the right thing by telling you that they have accidentally hit your parked vehicle. If they have left a note or they are trying to contact you, you should get their:
● License details
● Contact number
● Insurance policy details
Consider asking them what happened, but be careful if you find them high or they seem to be under the influence. Take pictures of their car if possible, particularly the areas showing signs of damage.
4. Figure out the Cause of the Crash:
It’s important to determine the cause of the crash. While it may be as simple as that another vehicle hit your car, there might be a specific reason behind the accident. Here are a few possibilities:
● Cramped Spaces:
Parking lots are usually cramped. The driver might be trying to park his/her vehicle in a tight space where there wasn’t enough space.
● Poor Visibility:
Trash cans, ramps, posts, and other similar barriers often hamper visibility in a parking lot.
● Slippery Conditions:
Sandy or wet conditions can make it difficult to control a vehicle.
● Debris, Potholes & Cracks:
Poorly maintained parking lots result in potholes and other risks that can contribute to accidents.
● Fast Driving:
People exiting the parking lot often tend to be in a hurry. Driving too fast may lead to an accident, be it on roads or a parking lot.
● Failure to Look before Moving:
A driver should ensure that he/she has a clear path prior to moving their car. They must look before reversing their automobile.
● Illegal Parking:
Parking where it is not allowed may increase the risk of an accident.
● Under the Influence:
Drunk driving or drugged driving decreases reaction time and the ability to judge, which may result in an accident in the parking lot.
5. Take Photographs:
Take photographs before moving your vehicle after the accident. Photograph the space where your car was parked at the time of the accident, any damage to the car, and the cars parked on either side. Also, take images of the entire accident scene as well as the other vehicle involved, if it is still there. Your smartphone camera is enough to do the job.
6. Report the Crash and Request for Video Footage:
You should report the crash to the parking lot’s owner. If it happened at a store, report the accident to the store manager/owner. If it’s a public or private lot, find the party managing it to report the
crash to them. If possible, ask them to provide you with security footage. Most parking lots today are under CCTV surveillance, so it may help to find the at-fault driver by looking at the video.
7. Find Witnesses:
What if someone hit your parked automobile and fled the scene? Fortunately, you may still be able to identify the driver at fault. If there are witnesses to the incident, collect their contact information. It is never a bad idea to ask them what they saw and take a record of their comments.
8. Contact Your Automobile Insurance Carrier:
Inform your insurance company about the incident soon after the accident. Know that Florida has no-fault insurance laws. This is applicable to medical benefits too.
Note that the property damage insurance, which you must have, is basically property damage liability. Hence, the insurance of the at-fault party, who caused the crash, should cover the property damage. If you are unable to find the at-fault party – or if the driver at fault does not have the insurance they should ideally have – your own underinsured, uninsured, or even collision coverage may be applicable. Your car accident lawyer in Clermont, Florida can review your policy to determine coverage.
Moreover, reporting the incident to the insurance company in a timely manner may save you from all sorts of damage-related questioning later on.
9. Make a Claim via the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance:
If someone hits your parked vehicle, you, in most cases, can file a claim via the at-fault party’s insurance. Due to Florida’s laws for mandatory insurance, the party responsible for your accident should have a minimum $10,000 in liability coverage.
Making a claim includes reporting the incident and estimating the cost of repairing the damaged automobile. The information collected at the accident scene may be useful in determining the at-fault party, understanding how to file the claim, and proving that you deserve recompense.
Note that if you are unable to find the at-fault driver, you may make a claim via your own insurance. Plus, the owner of the parking lot or any other party may also be held responsible for a risky condition that led to the crash.
Car Accident Lawyers in Clermont, Florida for Parked Car Accidents
At MANGAL, PLLC – Clermont Personal Injury Law Firm, our experienced car accident lawyers represent victims to help them get the recompense they deserve. If you have sustained injuries or property damage in a parked car accident, contact us today for a free initial consultation.