A parking lot is one of the places you are most likely to be involved in a car accident in Florida. Even if one car is parked, and even if the damage is minor, this is still considered an automobile accident and should be treated as such.
If you discover that someone has hit your parked car, a natural reaction might be to feel helpless to do anything about it. However, it is important to log the details and collect evidence that might later help you make a claim. You should treat the scene like an accident, where the act of someone hitting your parked car and driving away could even be considered a hit-and-run. This is considered a crime, so be sure to contact the police to file a report.
If you have legal questions regarding what to do if someone hits your parked car, then contact The Law Place today. With a team of attorneys with over 75 years of legal experience, we want to help you in any way we can. We offer a free case consultation, so call us today for free, no-obligation legal advice at (941) 444-4444.
Steps to Take at the Scene
Once you discover that someone hit your parked car, we advise you to take the following steps:
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident or move your vehicle.
- The National Association of Insurance Commissioners advises that you take photos of your car and any visible damage, scratches, etc. Take note of other details such as location, weather conditions, and time of day. Take pictures of landmarks or signs that can help identify the location and any other evidence at the scene, such as tire marks.
- If possible, locate the person responsible for hitting your car and exchange information. Ask the driver for their license, registration, and insurance ID card.
- File a police report.
- Contact your insurance provider.
Should I File a Police Report?
The next step to take after someone hits your parked car is to contact the police to file an accident report. Even if there is only minimal damage to your vehicle, you should still treat it as an accident. If someone hits your parked car and drives away without leaving any contact information, then the accident could be considered a hit-and-run crime. Under Florida Statute 316.065, drivers are required by law to report if it caused more than $500 in damages. It may be difficult to know how much the damage will cost unless you are a mechanic, so it is advised that you report the accident, even if the damage appears minor. This could save you legal issues down the road.
When you report the accident, an officer will document the incident and create an official accident report. They may come to the scene to investigate, and if the driver responsible is present, they may investigate whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
You will most likely require this accident report in order to later file your claim with your insurance company. So make sure that you request a copy of the accident report and that you take the name and badge number of the officer filing the report.
When Should I Contact My Insurance Provider?
After contacting the police to file an accident, it is essential that you notify your insurance provider of the incident as soon as possible. Failure to notify your insurance company in time could result in a rejected claim down the line. You can check your specific insurance policy for the timeframe you have to report an accident, but we advise you to report what happened to you on the same day just in case.
If you wish to file a claim, in most cases, you will be able to submit the claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You will need to go to an auto mechanic to get an estimate for repairing the damage.
Who Will Pay for the Damages to My Car?
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that every driver is required by law to carry their own insurance to cover the cost of repairs up to a certain amount. Florida Statute 627.736 states that drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage with a minimum of $10,000. So if someone hits your car, it may seem unfair, but you will likely have to pay a deductible before your car repairs, where this amount will depend on the details of your insurance policy.
If a third party is found liable for the accident (i.e., another driver who hit your parked car), then you may be able to file a lawsuit against this third party’s insurance company for repair costs up to $10,000. Be aware that more than one party can be found to be at fault for an accident, which may impact your payout if you were, for example, not parked perfectly in the parking spot. Contact The Law Place for a free case consultation with one of our attorneys. They can help to evaluate whether you have a viable case to file a lawsuit against a third party.
It is important to get the other driver’s details if possible, in case you may want to file a suit against them later on. If you see the driver who hit your car, be sure to exchange contact information and ask for their license, registration, and insurance ID card. You will also be able to make a claim with their insurance if the driver left a note with their contact details.
If you have uninsured motorist insurance or collision insurance, then additional costs may be covered under your policy.
What if the Driver Didn’t Leave a Note?
If the driver hit your car and left the scene without reporting the incident or leaving a note with their contact information, then this is a hit-and-run accident. This is a crime and should be reported to the local authorities as soon as possible.
If this happens, the first thing you should do is check for any witnesses or security cameras at the scene. If there is a shop nearby, then it could be worth asking them for any video footage they might have, or the police might follow this up later in the investigation.
Be sure to take photos and videos of your vehicle and the surroundings from different angles. Even small scratches or marks should be documented, as they will still cost money to repair.
Regardless of whether you locate the driver, you will first have to file a claim under your own insurance. Additional costs might be covered by uninsured motorist insurance or collision insurance if you already have this type of policy.
Is It Illegal to Drive Off After Hitting a Parked Car?
If you are involved in a collision of any type, and you leave the scene without giving your contact details, this is considered a hit-and-run, which is a crime. This is true, even if one car is parked, and even if there is only minor damage. The penalties for a hit-and-run in Florida can include:
- A $500 fine
- A second-degree misdemeanor charge
- Possible confiscation of your driver’s license
- Up to 60 days in jail
If you have been involved in a hit and run in Florida involving a parked car, then you should seriously consider seeking legal advice. We have criminal defense lawyers who have helped clients in countless cases like yours. Call us today to arrange a free case consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.
Will My Insurance Go Up if Someone Hits My Parked Car?
Your insurance company will consider this event as an accident, regardless of whether the accident involved a parked car. If you were responsible for hitting a parked car, or the driver who hit your parked car left the scene without sharing their information, then your insurance rates could go up by an average of 34%. Whether your insurance policy rates increase and by how much will depend on various factors which vary between different insurance companies. Contact your insurance provider and check your individual policy to see how your rate could increase.
For free legal advice regarding your case and to discuss the next steps to take, call The Law Place today. Our phone lines are monitored 24h a day, 7 days a week.
Call today on (941) 444-4444.