What Happens If You Unknowingly Hit A Parked Car?
Hitting a parked car is something that can happen at any time and it can be a stressful situation for some people. Some collisions can be so small that the driver may not even notice that they hit a parked car and they may leave the scene.
This scenario can be very problematic for at-fault drivers. This situation can be considered a “hit and run”. Most states consider this crime as a misdemeanor, which is less severe than a felony, but it is still serious.
Depending on the laws of the state where the accident occurred, a hit-and-run crime can be penalized with fines and/or prison time.
Usually, the severity of the penalties varies depending on the circumstances of the event and the extent of the damage caused to the other vehicle. If you accidentally hit a parked vehicle without noticing and left the scene, it is very possible that you may be notified shortly after the accident that someone is pressing charges against you.
With modern surveillance cameras, it is not very hard to identify a license plate. If this is your case, the best thing you can do is to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What to do immediately after hitting a parked car
If you just hit a parked car, follow these steps:
Keep calm and get medical assistance
Right after the collision make sure that no one got hurt in any of the cars involved in the accident. If someone is injured, call 911 immediately. If no one gets hurt, just keep calm.
Remain at the scene
While running away may be a tempting option, do not do it. If you do that, things can get worse if the police discover that you were responsible for the accident. In New York, the at-fault driver must report the accident to the police and stay at the scene to exchange information with the other car’s owner.
Leave a note on the windshield
If you are not able to locate the other car’s owner, leave a note on their windshield with your contact information. Do not write too many details or anything that could be used against you. Simply include your name, phone number, address, and a brief explanation of how the accident happened.
Take photos and videos of the accident scene. Make sure to record and take photos of the damage caused to every car involved. This might be useful if the other party files a claim with your insurance company or if you file a claim with your own insurer to repair your car.
Report the accident to your insurance company
It is critical that you notify your insurance carrier about the accident. It is preferable that they learn about the accident from you rather than through someone else who is making a claim. Additionally, some insurance companies may even refuse to pay for the damages if the accident was not reported.
Get an attorney
Seeking legal advice in moments like this is extremely important. An attorney will be able to help you and guide you through every step of the process. Be honest with your lawyer and tell them everything about the accident. They will try to get the best possible outcome for you.
What to do if you panicked and left the accident scene?
Panicking and fleeing from the accident scene is something that can happen to anyone. It is definitely not the best thing to do but there are ways to minimize the consequences.
Did you leave the crime scene intentionally?
If you left the crime scene intentionally and then realized it was a bad idea, try to return to the place where it happened. Maybe the car is still there and you can leave a note with your information. You should also call the police and explain to them what happened. Be honest and let them know that you got nervous and you left the scene. The police will have to do what the law mandates, but they can be more understanding if you tell them the truth. Notify your insurance company about the collision. Finally, contact an attorney.
Did you leave the scene because you weren’t aware of the incident?
If you were not aware of the accident and you hear that you are being accused of hitting someone’s car and leaving the scene, the best thing to do is to contact an attorney. An experienced attorney will tell you what to do to minimize the consequences.
Was the accident your fault?
Hitting a parked vehicle usually means that the driver is at fault. However, there are some cases in which the driver may not be liable. For example, if the parked vehicle was parked illegally, liability may be distributed between the car owners or the other car’s owner may be entirely at fault.
Will your insurance go up for hitting a parked car?
It is possible that your insurance rates will rise as a result of a collision with a parked vehicle. It makes no difference if you left a letter or reported the collision to the authorities. They will consider you a more dangerous driver if they pay for the damages, so your insurance costs will be higher.
You may wonder:
“Am I financially responsible for hitting a parked car?“
If you are liable for the accident, then you will be most likely financially responsible for the damages caused to the other cars. Fortunately, if you have auto insurance, your policy should cover the expenses up to your policy limits.
“I accidentally hit a parked car but there’s no visible damage. Can I leave?“
If there is no visible damage, you may think that everything is ok and that you can leave. Unfortunately, not every collision will cause visible damage. Some collisions can affect the functionality of the vehicle without necessarily damaging the exterior of the car.
If the other driver is able to prove that the collision damaged their car (even if there is no visible damage), you could face criminal charges for leaving the scene.
“When do I need a car accident lawyer?“
If you were involved in a car accident it is very important to contact a car accident lawyer. It is especially important to do that if you hit a parked vehicle and leave the accident scene because you may face criminal charges that can be penalized with prison time and/or fines.
At Greenberg & Stein P.C., we have experienced attorneys that help you get the best possible outcome in difficult situations. Our lawyers have represented countless clients in court and they will always do their best to help you.
Call us at 888-716-4088 to schedule a free case analysis with one of our lawyers.