According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 20% of all reported car accidents in the United States are hit-and-run accidents involving drivers navigating tight spaces who do not see other vehicles. Drivers attempt to flee the accident scene due to fear of the legal consequences of their actions. Said drivers may be driving without a license, insurance, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When caught, they can face criminal charges, fines, and even jail time, depending on the accident's severity and if they caused any injuries. If your parked car is hit by another vehicle that has fled the scene, there are a couple of steps to take. Although the below list is not exhaustive, they can be helpful.
Firstly, you should do a visual inspection by looking over the car's exterior, and note any dents, scratches, or broken components. The next step is to turn all the lights and signals to ensure they are all in good working condition. It is also essential to check that the engine and radiator are in good shape and not leaking. Next, consider any possible tire damage or rim damage. If safe and possible to do so, take the vehicle for a brief drive to disclose any steering, braking, or acceleration problems. Taking your car to a mechanic or auto body shop for a professional evaluation will help further assess how severe the damage is.
You should contact the police immediately to report the incident. In an emergency where you believe the responsible driver is still in the area, call 911 right away. If that is not the case and you are unsure of the non-emergency number, you can look it up online or in a phone book. Dial the number and wait for an operator to answer. When you speak with the operator, provide information as accurately and thoroughly as possible, including the time and location of the accident, the make and model of the other vehicle, and any identifying features or the license plate number. The operator may instruct you to wait for an officer to arrive on the scene or they may ask you to file a report online or at a police station.
When you discover that your parked car has suffered a hit-and-run, finding witnesses who may have seen what happened can be helpful. The first thing to do is approach anyone nearby the scene and ask if they heard anything or saw anyone leaving it. Next is to check for businesses or homes nearby that may have had people witness or who possess security cameras that may have captured the incident. If so, ask the owners or managers for their consent to share the footage with you or the police. In the case that you don't find any witnesses, consider leaving a note on the windshields of nearby cars or buildings, asking people to come forward and contact you or the police. The more information you gather about the incident and any witnesses, the better your chances are to identify the responsible party and seek compensation for damages. Therefore, acting quickly and thoroughly is paramount when looking for witnesses to a hit-and-run accident.
Taking photos is a critical step in documenting the damage and helping with any insurance claims or police reports. Take pictures of the entire car at multiple angles and distances to capture the full extent of the damage. Take close-up shots of any scratches, dents, or other damage to the vehicle, and use a flashlight or other light source to make the damage more visible if needed. Include any evidence the responsible driver may have left behind around the incident and photos of nearby buildings, signs, or other landmarks. If you can glimpse the other driver's license plate, quickly take a photo of it to aid in the investigation. Use a good-quality camera to take the photos, ensuring the images are sharp and clear.
It is crucial to get, or at the very least speak with, an attorney prior to making a claim to your insurance. More often than not, insurance companies attempt to limit their liability and find ways to put the blame on you. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney make your insurance claim on your behalf. This way, you do not get tricked by an insurance company into giving false information. The attorneys at Forward Law Group know of the sneaky tricks insurance companies use in an attempt to twist the facts.
Dealing with a Hit-and-Run Parked Car Situation can be stressful. You do not have to face it alone. Forward Law Group has lawyers that will provide you with the right guidance you need to get a fair compensation for any damage or loss caused by the accident. Our input will save you a great deal of time, energy and money. Feel free to call (818) 471-8389 with any questions you may have.
Also Read: Hit-and-run Laws In California