Here’s what you need to do if your parked vehicle gets hit.

Assess the Situation

It can be frightening to find yourself the victim of a collision, even if your car was parked, but try to keep a level head. Your first priority is to determine if anyone’s hurt. Then check for any damage to your vehicle.

It’s important to stay calm. Avoid panicking or getting angry, which can make the situation worse and make it more difficult to take the steps necessary to protect your rights. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that the other driver is likely the one who is going to have to deal with the financial fallout.

Then notice the details. Take note of exactly what is happening at the crash scene and ask yourself these questions:

  • Were you in or near your vehicle at the time, and did you see the damage occur?
  • Is the other driver at the scene, or did they leave their contact details?
  • Where did the accident occur?
  • Where on your vehicle is the damage?
  • What is the extent of the damage?
  • Who is around the area?
  • Was anyone hurt when the other driver collided with your car?

By taking a moment to absorb all of the details, you’re better prepared to determine the best path forward. And should you contact an attorney, they’ll want to know this information in order to evaluate your case.

Document the Scene

It’s important to have a record of what happened in case there are questions about who’s responsible or how badly your vehicle was damaged. Consider what evidence will tell the story of the crash.

Photo evidence can be invaluable when you’re making any kind of accident claim. Get out your phone camera and take as many pictures as possible. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure you have the following photos:

  • shots of all sides of your vehicle
  • close-up pictures of the damaged area
  • pictures of where you were parked and the surrounding area (for example, be sure to show any nearby street signs in case there’s a question of whether you were parked legally)
  • pictures of the other vehicle, if the driver stopped at the scene

The more pictures you have, the easier it will be to prove what happened and to show the extent of your loss.

And take note of the time and location. Ideally, you know exactly when and where the incident happened so you can share these details with police, any insurers involved in the claim and potentially your attorney. This is especially important if the other driver left the scene and you’re trying to identify who caused the damage.

If you weren’t in or near your vehicle when the accident happened, note the time you left your car and the time you returned. This can make it easier to identify the window of time during which the crash occurred.

Look for Witnesses

Whether or not you saw the crash happen, you should talk with other witnesses at the scene.

If you weren’t present and the other driver didn’t stick around, witnesses could help provide insight into who caused the harm. They may have a description of the vehicle or even a license plate number to share with you.

Even if you saw the incident or the driver left a note, witness statements can still be valuable. Witnesses can back up or corroborate your version of events, which is very helpful if the motorist who struck your car isn’t honest about what happened or questions the extent of the damage.

Get as much information from witnesses as possible. Ask them questions, including the following:

  • their name and contact details
  • whether they observed the accident
  • where they were standing relative to your vehicle at the time it was struck
  • what they saw when the vehicles collided
  • how they would describe the other car, including the make, model, color, year, license plate or any distinguishing characteristics such as dents or tinted windows
  • whether they can provide a description of the driver who hit you
  • whether they observed the driver who hit you writing a note or stopping to inspect the crash damage

Sometimes people are reluctant to talk or don’t know how to provide answers. Ask open-ended questions and be patient waiting for a reply. Record or write down their answers, and prod them for more details or insight if they initially provide only vague or nonspecific info.

Examine the Damage

You must determine just how severe the incident was and what impact it had on your vehicle. Follow these steps to examine the damage and make sure you know exactly how the crash affected your car.

Inspecting your vehicle is crucial. Take a close look at all parts of the car looking for scratches, dents, dings or other signs of damage. And remember that sometimes damage isn’t immediately visible to the untrained observer. For example, the force of the accident might have impacted your rearview camera.

If you aren’t confident about the severity of the damage, consider taking your car to a mechanic or other professional for an evaluation. If you’re making an insurance claim, it’s possible the insurer will send out an adjuster to evaluate the extent of the harm. Insurers may also recommend trusted repair partners who won’t inflate the bill.

If the other driver left the scene, check to see if they left a note on your car with their information so you can reach out and hold them responsible. Often, drivers will leave a note under the windshield wiper so it doesn’t blow away. If there is no obvious note, take a look around to be sure it didn’t fall off or isn’t tucked somewhere unexpected.

If there is no note, it’s especially important to talk to witnesses and even approach nearby homeowners or businesses who might have security camera footage of the incident.

Report to Authorities

In many states, reporting a car accident is required by law—especially if the damage caused is over $500. You, the other driver or both of you should take steps to make sure the reporting requirements are met. Here’s how.

If no one was hurt, you can call the nonemergency telephone number for the local police precinct where the incident took place and tell them you want to report an accident. If the other driver left without providing their contact details, make it clear that the incident was a hit-and-run and you want the police to investigate.

If someone was hurt, you may want to call 911 to get medical help and ensure the police arrive promptly at the scene of the accident.

If you get an attorney, they can file the accident report for you. In many states, accident reports can be filed online. In Florida, for example, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department has an online crash portal where you can submit information about an incident.

Be sure to get a copy of the report from the police at the crash scene or by requesting one online. This report can show who was to blame so you can get the appropriate insurance compensation.

Contact Your Insurance Company

The other driver’s insurer should pay for the damage to your car. However, you still want to report the incident to your own insurer. Your insurer can help you pursue a claim for compensation.

If the other driver didn’t stop and can’t be found, you may also be able to get the repair bills paid by your insurer, depending on what kind of insurance coverage you had in place before the incident happened.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Contacting a car accident attorney can be a smart decision after your parked car is hit. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and navigate the claims process so you maximize the compensation owed to you and aren’t left paying for losses out of pocket.

Categorized in:

Auto Accident, auto-accident,

Last Update: June 17, 2024

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