Picture this scenario: You step out of your front door ready to embrace the grind for another day, but you’re greeted by an awful sight. Your parked car is damaged, and it looks like it’s in no condition to run.
That realization could be enough to ruin your day, your week, and possibly even the next few months because getting around will be so much harder. What's even worse is that you didn't even see who hit your parked car, and that can complicate matters.
Don’t lose hope yet, though. While the situation certainly looks bad, there are still things you can do to hopefully get your car fixed without costing yourself a fortune in the process.
Check out the things you must do after discovering that your parked car has been damaged by continuing with this article.
The Steps You Must Take after Finding Out Your Parked Car Was Hit
The shock of seeing your car damaged can catch you off guard, but you cannot let it take over for too long. Taking immediate action is necessary if you want to save yourself from an even bigger headache.
Let’s go over the steps you need to take.
Contact the Police
Contacting the police is a must after you notice that your car is damaged. Regardless of what actions the driver that hit your car took, you need to have the incident officially documented by the authorities.
Call them right away and wait until they show up at the scene of the accident. Once they get there, they will likely talk to you about what happened. Make sure that you're truthful with your statements.
The police officers will also gather the evidence at the site of the accident. The evidence they collect will be useful once the time comes for them to compose an accident report.
Once they finish collecting the evidence and making the report, ask for a copy. Don't forget to list down the names and badge numbers of the responding officers because you'll likely need the evidence they have later when you're filing claims.
Gather Evidence Yourself
Although you’ve called the police, and they will be conducting their own investigation, that doesn’t mean you cannot collect evidence yourself.
Be as thorough as you can be when gathering evidence.
List down when and where the accident happened. Describe the damage done to your car too.
If you have a smartphone, go ahead, and take pictures. Take pictures of your damaged vehicle, of the place where the incident occurred. There may be evidence on the road that you’re missing, so take a picture to be safe.
There’s a chance that your neighbors witnessed what happened to your vehicle. Approach them and ask if they have any information to provide. You can also ask for their permission to have the conversation recorded so you can present it to the police later.
Check if the Person Who Hit Your Car Left a Note
While inspecting your car, you may notice a note left behind by the person who hit it. That’s good news because it will make the next steps considerably less complicated.
Look at the note and check to see what details the other driver provided. The other driver may have listed their name, contact details, and insurance information.
Things will get more complicated if the person who hit your car drove away without leaving any information behind. You may need to track them down to receive fair compensation for what happened.
What You Could Do if the Other Driver Left a Note after Hitting Your Car
Let's assume that the driver of the vehicle left a note behind containing his/her contact information. What should you do in that scenario?
Reach Out to the Other Driver
You may want to contact the insurance provider listed in the note right away but hold off on doing that for a little bit. Instead, contact the other driver first.
Talk to the driver and ask about what happened. You can also ask if they are willing to return to the scene of the accident so they can talk to the police. The hope is that the other driver will cooperate, and this matter can be resolved faster.
With the police present, you and the other driver can discuss what to do about the incident.
Have Your Car Checked Out by a Body Shop
Call over a towing service and have your car taken to a body shop. Go to that body shop together with the other driver. Once there, the mechanics can inspect your car and see the damage.
Get the Other Driver to Pay for Minor Car Repairs Out of Pocket
If the mechanics say that the damage to your vehicle is relatively minor, you could have the matter handled right then and there. Ask if the other driver is willing to pay for the minor repairs out of pocket.
This may seem like a longshot, but it’s worth asking. The other driver may have no interest in dealing with insurance agencies over minor repairs. They may prefer to have everything handled right away by paying for the repairs with their own money.
Before you accept that payment, though, double-check with the mechanics to make sure that the damage to your vehicle is minor. If the mechanics say that it has significant damage, consider another option.
File a Third Party Insurance Claim
California is a fault state when it comes to insurance claims. What that means is that you can file a third party claim with the other driver’s insurance provider to cover the damages to your vehicle.
So, how do you file a third party insurance claim?
Start by contacting your insurance provider. Don't worry because they won't need to pay for anything, and you don't need to worry about any deductibles. The reason why you're calling your provider is that they can help you move forward with your third party insurance claim.
After starting the process of filing a third party insurance claim, you will likely be contacted by a claim representative or an insurance adjuster, according to Allstate Insurance. The job of the insurance adjuster is to determine the facts of the case. They will talk to you, the other driver, and likely the police as well during their investigation.
Before talking to the insurance adjuster, be sure you consult with your attorney first. The insurance adjuster will be looking to determine who’s at fault for what happened.
If you misspeak or fail to clarify what happened, the adjuster may say that you are fully or at least partially to blame for the accident. Get some advice from your attorney to prevent yourself from saying anything they could construe as such.
What You Can Do if Your Parked Car Was Damaged in a Hit and Run Accident
While your parked car being hit is never lucky, you can still consider yourself somewhat fortunate if the other driver left behind their contact information. In some cases, the other driver won't offer that common courtesy and will only speed away.
That is known as a hit and run accident.
The steps you need to take if you want your parked car repaired will be different if the other driver did not take responsibility. You could have a bigger headache on your hands.
Try to Identify the Other Driver
Don’t give up too quickly on uncovering the identity of the other driver. Take more time to gather evidence if needed.
If you or your neighbors have security cameras, perhaps you can spot some identifying details by combing through the footage. You can also ask for the police’s help in determining the identity of the driver who hit your car.
File a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
Hopefully, you can track down the identity of the driver who crashed into your car. Considering that they tried to avoid taking responsibility in the first place, there's a good chance that they will not cooperate after you find them.
At that point, your best course of action may be to file a lawsuit against the other party. Contact your attorney and start drawing up the lawsuit.
File a Claim with Your Insurance Provider
Unfortunately, there are also cases where you cannot find the identity of the party responsible. It's a real shame, but that's what happens sometimes.
You can still get your insurance provider to pay for your car repairs, but that depends on what coverage you have. Since the identity of the driver is unknown, your insurance company may consider him/her to be an uninsured motorist.
Note that not all auto insurance policies have protections in place for uninsured motorists. Your policy must have at least one of the following types of coverage detailed below if it’s going to cover the damage resulting from the hit and run accident.
Collision coverage comes into play whenever another vehicle hits your car. It also takes effect when you hit another vehicle or object.
Note that collision coverage does not factor in who is at fault for what happened. The insurance company will still pay for your repairs as long as you have this type of coverage.
As noted by Farmers Insurance, though, collision coverage is optional. You may have opted not to pay for it before. In that case, you will need to pay for the repairs out of pocket.
You will also have to pay a deductible before collision coverage takes over. Depending on your deductible, you may need to wait a while before you can get your vehicle repaired.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage
The other type of coverage that could prove helpful if your car was damaged is known as uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
As its name suggests, uninsured motorist property damage coverage takes effect when the party at fault is an uninsured driver. Like we said earlier, drivers in hit and run accidents are often considered uninsured by insurance companies, so this coverage is what you'll need.
According to the California Department of Insurance, uninsured motorist property damage coverage pays for the cost of repairs not covered by collision coverage up to $3500.
The catch with uninsured motorist property damage coverage is that it doesn’t always account for hit and run accidents. Before you sign up for this additional coverage, clear things up with your insurance agent and see if it’s as beneficial as you need it to be.
One more thing to note about uninsured motorist property damage coverage is that it will always be offered by insurance providers. However, you will be the one to decide if you need it or not.
What Can You Do if You Were Injured while inside Your Parked Car?
You may have been inside your car when it was hit, resulting in you getting injured. What should you do in that scenario?
Check on yourself first and follow that by calling the police. You can opt to stay in your car or talk to the other driver if you weren’t hurt too badly. Gathering evidence is also a good idea if you can handle that.
Going to the doctor is also a must. Get checked out and see if you’ve sustained any injuries.
The other driver may volunteer to pay for your check-up and medication prescribed to you, but it would be wise to hold off on accepting that offer. The full extent of your injuries may not be known yet.
Ask for their contact information instead so you can send a claim to their insurance provider later.
If the other driver sped away after hitting your car, you can send a claim to your health insurance provider and have them pay for your medical expenses.
Working with an attorney is important in the aftermath of someone hitting your parked car. Failing to do so could wind up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Contact us at the Saeedian Law Group, and we’ll help guide you through this ordeal.