Someone hit my parked car. What should I do?

It has happened to many of us. When you return to your car after shopping or an appointment, you discover a gouge in the door or a dent in the bumper. Obviously someone hit your car while it was parked.

What now?

It all depends on whether the other person has provided his or her insurance information, whether fault can be conclusively established, and whether it makes sense to file a claim considering the cost of repairing your vehicle and deductible amount from your car insurance.

Any time a driver leaves the scene of an accident without providing their contact information or leaving a note, it is considered a . Whether it happened in a parking lot or on the street, motorists are required to stop after a collision, even if the damage to the vehicles is minor.

While the Because hit-and-run accidents are reserved for wrecks that result in bodily injury, each state has different laws stating what a hit-and-run driver can be charged with. Even a misdemeanor can lead to significant fines, possible jail time, and car insurance rate increases.

If the driver who crashes into your parked car leaves a note, he is essentially admitting his guilt. If they have included their insurance information and you have documented the damage to your car, the other driver's insurance will pay for your vehicle's repairs.

However, it is still advisable to call the police even if the driver has left a note so that you can have a report filed as part of the . This can be especially useful if the damage to your car later turns out to be more serious than it initially seemed. As long as no one is injured, you can call the police non-emergency number to report the incident.

Be sure to take photos from different angles and get contact information from any witnesses before leaving the scene. If the driver left a note without mentioning the insurance company, you may need to contact him or her for more information.

The person who hits your car should be reimbursed by his or her insurance for any vehicle damage, other property damage, or bodily injury resulting from the incident. However, if the driver who hit your car cannot be identified, your car insurance policy may need to cover repairs and injuries through one of the following types of coverage.

A claim through your insurance company will likely be required if the hit driver cannot be identified. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage helps pay for the costs of repairs to your car and any property damage resulting from the accident.

If you don't have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you will need to cover any vehicle damage resulting from an accident involving a parked car.

If there is a personal injury resulting from a collision with a parked car, (PIP) or ) can cover these costs, regardless of fault.

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Take the following steps to protect yourself in the aftermath of a collision with a parked car.

Discovering that your car has been hit is stressful and upsetting. Taking a breath and making sure everyone is safe is the first priority.

Having an official accident report can be helpful if you decide to take action and later file a property damage claim or use your own insurance coverage to pay the bill.

If the other driver is not on site but has left a note with his phone number, contact him before deciding how to proceed. Be sure to get their insurance information, even if they offer to pay for the damage out of pocket.

Whether you decide to report the accident to the police or not, you will still need to carefully document the accident. Take photos of the damage and any tire tracks and ask witnesses for information. Collect as much evidence as possible, including security camera footage.

Contact the other driver's insurance company or your own insurance agent as soon as possible. You only have a short period of time to report the accident and file an insurance claim, so don't delay even if the damage is minor.

Filing a claim with the other driver's insurance for damage or injury will not affect your car insurance premiums.

If you need to file a claim with your own insurance company after someone hits your parked car, most insurance companies distinguish between at-fault and no-fault accidents. However, your insurance rates may increase, especially if it is one of several incidents in your recent driving history.

If you have hit a parked car and a claim has been filed with your insurance company, your rates will likely increase if you are at fault. To avoid insurance, some drivers will do their best to cover minor damages to avoid rate increases.

Be wary of this approach as it could leave you or the other driver with unexpected costs if the damage or injuries resulting from the collision are more serious than they appeared at the scene.

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