Is It a 'Hit and Run Accident' If It's a Parked Car?
As you're backing up in a parking lot, you accidentally hit a car parked behind you. You get out of your car and see that there's been no serious damage to the vehicles. Are you free to leave? Leaving the accident scene is against the law in every state. Read on to find out how hitting a parked car can turn into a hit and run accident.
Types of Hit and Run Accidents
Generally, a hit and run accident is one in which you leave the accident scene before having fulfilled the duties imposed by law, such as rendering aid or giving identification. Be mindful of your state traffic laws because your state may impose fines, penalties, and even jail time if you leave the accident scene without making an effort to fulfill your duties.
There are two types of hit-and-run accidents: (1) when you hit a car and speed off and (2) when you hit an unattended, parked car, leaving no information. Therefore, it's important to remember that it's still a hit and run accident if you hit an unattended, parked car and fail to provide your information.
Legal Duties After Hitting a Parked Car
If you hit an unattended, parked car, you should first check if anyone, including yourself, is injured. If so, call for medical help immediately. Next, you need to make a reasonable effort to identify the owner of the vehicle and notify them about what happened. If you're unable to find the owner of the vehicle, leave a written notice of the following information:
- Your name and contact information
- Model and make of your car
- Your license plate number
In addition, some state laws require you to file a police report, even if you have left your information with the owner of the vehicle.
Things to Do Before Leaving the Accident Scene
In order to protect yourself and avoid a potential lawsuit, you should follow the steps below to preserve evidence and collect accurate information about the accident.
- Record the time and location: Before leaving the accident scene, write down the time and exact location of the accident for your record.
- Call the police: Police will help you to file a police report, which can be used as evidence to your claim or defense.
- Take accident photos: Get multiple photos of the accident scene, including general views and close-up of the cars. This will help the insurance company to accurately determine the damages. Accident scenes are often easily altered. You don't want to be responsible for any damage you didn't cause.
- Talk to any witnesses: If anyone witnessed the accident, talk to them, and get details of what they saw and their contact information.
- Notify your insurance company: It would be beneficial to let your insurance company know what happened as soon as possible, so it can expedite the claims process.
Get a Free Car Accident Claim Evaluation
Legal consequences will follow if you fail to leave a note or file a police report after hitting a parked car. In order to protect yourself by minimizing the problems, contact a personal injury lawyer for a free claim evaluation. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine what your legal options are.