Most drivers know what to do in the event of an accident with other drivers. However, what if the damaged vehicle is a parked car with no driver inside? Whether you are the one that struck a parked car or the owner of a parked vehicle someone else hit, you have legal obligations in Florida. Here are a few pieces of car injury lawyers’ advice on how to protect yourself and your rights in both of these situations.
If You Hit a Parked Car
If you collided with a parked car, remain on the scene. Taking off is illegal, and could result in criminal hit-and-run charges. Don’t risk jail time and hefty fines for a hit-and-run in Florida.
Even if you think no one is around to see the accident, surveillance footage, eyewitnesses, and other investigative tactics can lead to your arrest. Stay on the scene and get out of your vehicle (when safe) to fulfill your duties as a driver. These include:
- Positioning your vehicle in a way that doesn’t further obstruct traffic.
- Securing medical help immediately for anyone that has suffered injuries in the collision.
- Remaining on the scene until police officers or an ambulance arrives.
- Giving your name, contact information, and vehicle registration number to others involved in the accident.
- Calling 911 and reporting the crash if it caused injuries, involved intoxicated drivers, or damage over $500.
- Notifying the owner of the parked vehicle that you struck his or her car.
- Leaving a note on the damaged vehicle that has your name, address, and vehicle plate number in legible handwriting, if you cannot find the driver.
- Calling your insurance company and reporting the collision.
Take things a step further than your legal duties by taking photographs of the damage and searching for witnesses to the accident. Get the names and contact information of anyone who claims to have seen you crash into the parked car. The more information you record about the incident, the better. Your insurance company will need details from you to evaluate the claim. The most important thing to remember is to remain on the scene until you’ve fulfilled your legal obligations.
If Someone Hit Your Parked Car
If your parked vehicle is the one someone else hit, hopefully the other driver found you or at least left you a note with his/her contact information. In this case, simply report the incident to an insurance company as you would for any other car accident.
Remember to report the incident to the police if it fulfills the stipulations of doing so. Call the police even if the driver who hit your car asks you not to. Reporting the crash protects you from the at-fault driver giving you false information or attempting fraud.
If the accident only caused property damage, do not file a claim with your own insurer. Instead, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Property-damage-only claims fall outside of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, and can help you avoid incurring penalties from your own company.
If you suffered injuries, however, you will need to file a claim with your own insurer, unless your injuries are serious enough to qualify for a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help you with major injury car accident claims.
How to Recover Damages After a Hit-And-Run
In the event that you return to your parked car to find property damage but no sign of the at-fault party and no note, you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. Remain calm and take steps toward recovery.
First, call the police. Always call the police to report a hit-and-run in Florida, even if it didn’t cause injuries or more than $500 in vehicle damages. Police can investigate the collision and possibly gather evidence that could ultimately lead to the arrest of the hit-and-run driver.
Once you’ve reported the crash, start collecting as much evidence as you can, which may be limited in a hit-and-run situation, especially if you don’t know exactly when the collision occurred. It might be impossible to track down eyewitnesses.
However, immediately ask around in case someone nearby heard or saw something. If you’re in a business parking lot, request a copy of the video surveillance footage. Police will help you obtain this type of evidence.
Write down the date and location of the accident, as well as the time if known. Take photographs of your damaged vehicle and the setting of the collision. The more information you have about your hit-and-run, the higher the chances of finding the at-fault driver.
Even if the driver never faces justice, your car insurer might cover your damages if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. This coverage will treat the accident as if the guilty driver stayed on scene but did not have adequate car insurance. Get help negotiating a hit-and-run claim with your insurance provider at Bulluck Law Group.