There’s nothing more frustrating than returning to your car after it’s been parked for a while and finding a dent, scratch, or other damage to your vehicle that wasn’t there before. When this happens, and there’s no apologetic note with the responsible driver’s information tucked under your windshield wipers, you may be left wondering what to do next.
The first step is to take a moment to calm down. The worst thing you can do in this scenario is to throw up your hands and drive away wondering why me. Anytime your vehicle is involved in an accident (whether you’re in it at the time of the crash or not), it’s important to take the necessary steps to document the damage and increase your chances of a positive outcome.
Steps to Take At the Scene
Here’s what you should do if someone hits your car while it’s parked on the street or in a parking lot:
1. Call the Police
The first thing you should do after an accident is to notify the police. In most cases, an officer will report to the scene to document the damage and create an official accident report, which will be important when you file your insurance claim, so make sure you request a copy of it. It’s also a good idea to ask for the name and badge number of the officer assisting you.
If for whatever reason, the police aren’t able to come to the scene, it’s still important to file an incident report yourself, which you can often do online through the local police department’s website.
2. Check for Security Cameras
If your car was parked on a busy city street, in a parking lot, or inside a parking garage, there’s a chance the incident was captured on a nearby security camera. Video footage can help shed light on exactly what happened and may help the police identify the other vehicle involved in the crash.
Even if you don’t immediately see cameras, it’s still a good idea to ask nearby businesses and/or building owners, as cameras are sometimes strategically placed to be difficult to spot.
3. Document the Details
Write down as much information as possible before you leave the scene. Note the location of the incident, the date and the time of day, the weather conditions, how long your car was parked there, and any other information that seems relevant. It can be difficult to remember the details days or even weeks after the accident, so it’s important to take notes and document as much information as possible.
4. Take Pictures
If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the damage and scene. Photographs can serve as important evidence and, in some cases, can be the difference between a successful insurance claim and an unsuccessful one. They can also help you remember important details when you’re talking to your insurance company.
Be as thorough as you can. If possible, take pictures of:
- Your car and the damage it sustained
- The positioning of your vehicle on the street or in the parking space
- Any other damage at the scene (damage to other cars, debris, skid marks on the road, etc.)
- Landmarks and signage that depict the location of the accident
- The environment and weather conditions
It’s also a good idea to take pictures from different angles and distances. Having a wide variety of photos will help paint a clear picture of the damage and the scene. If possible, take a few videos as well.
Will Insurance Cover Repairs?
Anytime you’re involved in a car accident – whether it’s a head-on collision, a fender bender in a parking lot, or you’re rear-ended at a stop sign – you should always contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
When it comes to a hit and run involving a parked car, if it’s not possible to identify the other driver or vehicle, you’ll need to rely on your own insurance coverage to cover the cost of the damage.
If you have collision coverage, that will typically help cover the cost of repairs. However, you will likely have to pay a deductible. In other cases, uninsured motorist property damage coverage may help pay for the repairs, but this is not the case in every state.
Get Your Car Repaired After an Accident
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run or other crash that left your car damaged, Mackin’s Auto Body is the place to come! We’ve earned our reputation as the PNW’s most reliable, trusted auto body collision repair shop, with over 75 years of experience repairing damaged vehicles and providing top-notch customer service. We know how stressful it can be to go through an accident and all the hassle that follows. That’s why we provide accident resources and work with all insurers to handle claims.