What To Do If You Hit A Parked Car

tapped a park car

Quick answer:

Would you want to know if someone hit your car? Of course you would. So try to stick around to wait for the owner to come return. If you have to run, leave a note with your contact info and where you made contact with their car (and your insurance info if there’s actual damage). If there’s little to no damage to either car, just your number is fine. If the owner is actually committed enough to call you, be friendly. Dealing with insurance can be a hassle – you may consider offering to pay for a carwash or s scratch removal product as an amicable way to settle the situation.

If there is significant damage that can’t be buffed out, leave your insurance information with them from the beginning to speed up the process. Worried about an increase in your insurance? Don’t be. If your rates increase because of a parking lot bump, it will be small, and is a far better option than fleeing the scene, which can get you a $1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail!

More details:

What do you do if you hit a parked car? No matter how careful you are, accidents like this are bound to happen, especially in a crowded or busy parking lot. And on top of that, accidentally hitting a parked car, whose driver isn’t around, can cause you a lot of stress.

Hitting a parked car and leaving the scene seems tempting but the consequences of doing that are serious; you could face up to $1,000 as a fine, up to 3 years of informal probation and up to 6 months in county jail, according to Californian state laws. And even if you get away with no one seeing, you can’t afford that bad car karma. So what should you do if you hit a parked car? Do you have to drop what you’re doing, set up a hammock in a nearby tree, and wait it out? In most cases, there a few common guidelines you should follow.

always leave a note parking

Arrested Development fans know the drill…

Once you know you’ve hit the car, check the exterior for any damage, small or significant. Then try to see if you can locate the driver of the car and wait to see if anybody comes up to the car. “But, Sophia needs to be present for her 4:30 cello practice, or she won’t be ready for her recital on the 21st!” Alright, calm down. If you need to run, leave a note somewhere noticeable, listing your name, contact number, and a small explanation of what happened. Don’t write too much as anything you write can be held against you when dealing with insurance. If the damage is significant, try to leave your insurance information behind if you have it handy, as it may speed up the process.

Below we discuss some of the most pressing questions that you may have when you encounter such a situation:

What should I do if I hit the car but there are no damages?

Even if you hit a car and you don’t see any damages, it’s still technically a collision. This would mean that if you hit a parked car and left, the chances are you would still be charged for not leaving any contact information behind. When you do leave your information (good job!), and if the owner actually takes the time to call you, be friendly. If they are looking for a fix/compromise, you might consider shipping them a scratch removal product or using Paypal or Venmo to send them money for a car wash, both of which should be under $20 and don’t require meeting face to face.

What should I do if there’s significant damage or dents?

Be honest and leave all your information. You may be tempted to right back in your car and leave, but you should also note down the information about the other car – make, model and license plate, and avoid a ripoff/scam by taking your own photos of the damage on their car!

Keep record of any special circumstances that contributed to the accident such as slippery roads, no lights, vehicle sticking out and more. All of this could help you with the insurance process.

What legal risks are there of leaving no contact information behind?

According to Californian State laws, as mentioned above, if convicted you could face up to $1,000 as fine, up to 3 years of informal probation, restitution to any victim(s) whose property you damaged, up to 6 months in county jail and two points on your driving record.

Written by Peter V.
Peter is an L.A.-based designer, blogger and daily commuter. He explores what causes parking to suck in urban environments, how to bring about parking regulation changes, and the latest advancements in parking tech.