If you damage someone’s car while it is parked, there are a number of steps you should take to avoid serious legal trouble.
Accidents happen all the time out on the road. However, there are also times when they can happen when you are doing something as minor as backing out of a parking space. If you damage someone’s car while it is parked, you are required to make them aware of the damage and to provide your information. Otherwise, it is considered a hit-and-run in Missouri. But what if you are in a hurry and the vehicle owner isn’t around?
1. Tell the Vehicle’s Owner
It might seem tempting to drive away thinking it was just a minor scratch that they would likely never notice, and that might be the case. But if the owner does notice and files a report, then you can be arrested for a hit-and-run and face the potential of getting into legal trouble. If you do something to someone else’s car – even if it was an accident – you should leave your information. There are situations where you may think that no one is around, so what is the harm of just driving away? But remember in this age of technology, many parking lots are full of cameras. Aside from the fact that you may be caught, informing the other driver is the right thing to do.
The first thing you should do if you hit someone’s car by accident is to check the area and see if you can find the vehicle’s owner. If you are in a store, then walk inside and make them aware of the incident so that it is on record that you did try to notify the car’s owner. Even if you are in a hurry, taking 10 minutes just to try to find the driver can ensure that it appears you attempted.
2. Leave a Note If You Can’t Find the Owner
If you can’t find the owner or driver of the vehicle, then you should let them know what happened in writing. Make sure to leave a note both with the store owner and on the car windshield with your name, address, contact number, and explanation of the accident. To cover yourself more, it might be a good idea to call the police and to have an officer file a report to prove that you tried to make contact. If for some reason the note you leave becomes detached or the driver doesn’t see it, you will need to have proof that you did at least attempt to reach the vehicle owner in order to avoid being charged with a hit-and-run.
3. Take Pictures
Even if you were the one responsible for hitting the other car, it is a good idea to have evidence of the actually damage that was done.
4. Speak With Your Insurance Company
When you hit someone else’s car and they aren’t around, it can be alluring to consider the prospects of just driving off. But that would be a poor decision that can come with far greater consequences than just making the situation right by being honest. If you can’t find the owner make sure to let the authorities know or leave a message. You will also want to alert your insurance company. To avoid the fallout from accidentally hitting someone’s car, take the small steps to ensure that you do the right thing.
If You Were the Victim of a Parking Lot Accident
If someone hit your car when you weren’t around, it is a good idea to speak with a car accident attorney to ensure that your right to compensation is protected. This becomes all the more important if someone hit your car and left the scene without informing you and leaving their information. An experienced attorney can help you collect the evidence needed to recover the financial compensation you are legally entitled to.