Accidents can derail your day. The frustration is only intensified when they happen without your knowledge. If you return to your parked car only to discover it damaged by another vehicle, you may still be able to recover compensation for the damage. Even if you happen to be in your vehicle when it is struck, the other driver may still leave the scene.
If someone hits your parked car, your next moves depend partly on whether you know who did it and whether you plan to make an insurance claim. In any case, it is essential to document the scene and gather any evidence you can. Also, speak with a car accident attorney about your options so that you can maximize an insurance claim if you make one.
As a personal injury law firm, we understand the questions that can arise after an accident. Here are some of the things to consider after a parked car accident.
Was the accident a hit and run?
Under state law, a driver who hits a parked car is required to make a reasonable effort to find the owner. If they cannot be identified, the driver must leave a note identifying themselves and stating what happened.
If the driver did not stay at the scene or leave a note, it is considered a hit-and-run. Also, if the accident incurs property damage of over $500 in New Jersey or $1000 in New York, they are required to report the accident to the police.
If the perpetrator left without a note:
- Remain at the scene to gather evidence. Take photos, talk to any witnesses, note the time, and look for other clues like cameras in the area.
- Call the police. You might be required to report the damage even if you were not at fault. If you decide to file an insurance claim, you will also need the police report for this.
- Call the insurance company if you will be filing a claim. Depending on your insurance policy, you may or may not have coverage for the damage, or a claim under your policy will involve a deductible. If you file, notifying the company early will speed up the process.
A hit and run is always easier to deal with when there is evidence that can identify the vehicle that caused the damage. Taking steps to preserve any information will increase your likelihood of holding the driver accountable.
Insurance claims for a parked car accident
No-fault insurance only covers bodily injury, not property damage. If you can identify the driver, you are more likely to recover on an insurance claim because they are also required to carry liability coverage that pays for this.
If you locate the driver, ask for their insurance information. If you file a third-party claim under the other driver’s policy, the damages you recover will be paid by their insurance company so you will not be responsible for the deductible.
If you cannot identify the hit-and-run driver, you can file a claim with your own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provision. New York and New Jersey both require drivers to carry this coverage, but some states do not. If you have a policy from another state, you need to check to see that it includes this type of coverage.
Even a claim under your policy can become adversarial as they try to trim costs. Working with an experienced lawyer can level the playing field and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
What to do if you identify the driver
If the person who hit your car stays at the scene or leaves a note, your situation will be more like a typical car accident. Once you exchange insurance and contact information, you should take photographs of the vehicles and location and call the police. Next, inform your insurance company as soon as possible.
If the other driver has the required insurance, their liability coverage should pay for your damages. If they are uninsured, your uninsured motorist coverage should pay.
A lawsuit to recover property damage may also be a potential avenue of recovery. However, uninsured drivers often do not have the means to pay a judgment. Your lawyer can help you determine viable options for recovery.
Contact us today
If the driver left the scene after hitting your parked car, you could still receive reimbursement for the damages if you take the right steps. Unfortunately, though, there are no do-overs once you settle your claim. Do it right the first time and speak with a knowledgeable lawyer from our team who can navigate this for you.
At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we understand the complex claims process. We help clients from across Rockland County, and Bergen County recover maximum compensation. Schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you too.