Car accident

Oops, I just hit a parked car

Almost every driver who has been behind the wheel for more than a few years knows the feeling—you were maybe a bit too overeager backing out of a parking spot and suddenly hear that dreaded crunching noise as you crash into the car behind you.

Running into a parked car can be embarrassing, and if you think no one is around, you might be tempted to just drive off rather than facing the embarrassment and potential anger that comes with owning up to your mistake.

However, the very last thing you want to do when you hit a parked car is just drive away. If you do drive away, you might soon find yourself in need of a bail bonds company after the police arrive at your house to charge you with leaving the scene of an accident. Even if it was just a tiny fender-bender that resulted in a tiny scratch or two, you could still end up potentially having to pay fines, facing criminal charges and possibly even lose your license. Therefore, no matter what you do, never leave the scene of an accident—no matter how minor you think it is.

I Hit a Parked Car, Now What?

One of the main reasons people leave the scene of an accident is that they’re worried that the crash will cause their insurance rates to go up. Unfortunately, this may indeed be true. However, the increase in rates that accompanies a minor accident is nothing compared to how high your rates will skyrocket if you’re convicted of hit-and-run charges. For this reason, it is of vital importance that you wait around the scene of the accident until you can talk to the owner of the other car.

There is no need to immediately call the police just because you hit another vehicle. In fact, as long as no one is hurt and the accident doesn’t block traffic, it is likely that the police won’t even respond. Furthermore, you may be lucky enough that the owner of the other car is willing to solve things without getting insurance companies involved, which isn’t possible once a police report has been filed.

This means that the very first thing you’ll want to do is try to speak with the owner of the car you hit. If you’ve waited a reasonable amount of time and can’t locate the owner, you might want to consider asking inside the nearby shop or restaurant.

Speaking with the Owner

Once you do finally locate the owner, one of the most important things you can do is to try to be calm and explain the situation. Unfortunately, their initial reaction could be one of anger so it’s important to try to keep your calm and explain to them that you take full responsibility for what happened and will cover the cost of any damage.

At this point, you’ll want to make sure that you exchange contact and insurance information so that the other owner can submit an insurance claim. Again, providing false or incorrect information could be interpreted in the same way as leaving the scene of the accident, so you’ll need to make an effort to ensure that the other person can actually get ahold of you in order to avoid the police from potentially having to get involved.

What If I Can’t Find the Owner?
You are generally only expected to wait around a reasonable amount of time in order to locate the owner. While this doesn’t mean you can simply drive off if they don’t appear after five minutes, it also doesn’t mean that you need to sit around and wait for hours. If the owner doesn’t show up within a reasonable amount of time, you will then need to leave a note with all of your contact info.

The hit-and-run laws vary from state to state, but in general, every state requires that you leave a note with your name, address and a statement concerning the details of the accident should you be unable to locate the owner. In this case, the law typically states that the note must be left in a conspicuous place.

Leaving a note is usually sufficient to avoid charges in most states. However, there are some states like California and New York that also require you to immediately report the accident to the police. Should you fail to report the accident to the police, you could still be facing hit-and-run charges and potential jail time even if you left a note behind.

Therefore, it is important that every driver is fully aware of the relevant laws in their state. Alternatively, you could also ensure that you avoid running afoul of the law by making sure to report the accident to the police if you’re unable to speak with the other owner before leaving the scene. By taking this simple step, you can go a long way towards avoiding huge headaches, fines and possible jail time due to your accident.

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