Is Hitting a Parked Car Considered a Hit-and-Run?
It is against the law in Massachusetts to hit a parked vehicle without stopping and leaving your information. It is the same crime as causing an accident and fleeing the scene – a hit-and-run – although with lighter penalties if you only cause minor property damage. If you get into a hit-and-run accident with a parked car as either party, learn what to do to protect yourself.
What to Do If You Accidentally Hit a Parked Car
Hitting a parked car is not a cause for panic. It happens to many drivers. Do not let your anxiety let you do something you will regret, such as fleeing the scene and hoping no one saw you. It is your legal responsibility in Massachusetts to pull over, check for property damage, and leave your information if you did scratch or damage the other car. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, section 26 also says you must report an accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within five days if it causes an excess of $1,000 in property damages.
If you accidentally hit a parked car, pull over to a safe location out of the road. When it is safe to do so, step out of your car and return to the vehicle you struck. Examine the car for damages. Take photographs of any damage for your records. Then, make a reasonable effort to locate the owner of the vehicle. If you do find the owner, explain what happened and exchange your names and phone numbers. Give the vehicle owner your insurance information if requested. Note that the owner will seek benefits from his or her own insurance company under Massachusetts’ no-fault laws.
If you cannot find the owner of the vehicle you hit, leave a note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle, such as on the windshield. The note must contain at least your name, address and vehicle registration number. You may also want to include your phone number and a short description of what happened. Leaving a note will fulfill your duties as a driver. Leaving the scene without locating the vehicle owner or leaving a note could lead to hit-and-run charges brought against you if a surveillance camera or witness spotted you. Finally, call your insurance company to report the accident and file a claim.
What to Do If Someone Damaged Your Parked Car
If someone damaged your parked car, hopefully, he or she found you or left a note. Contact your insurance agent immediately and explain what happened. Give the insurance agent the name and information given to you, if any. Your agent can walk you through the steps of filing a first-party insurance claim. Personal injury protection insurance should cover your damages. If you do not have enough insurance, your insurer will seek further compensation through the at-fault party’s carrier.
Before you leave the scene, record any available evidence to give to your insurance company. This can include photographs of your vehicle’s damages and the names of any eyewitnesses. Take thorough notes as to the location, time and date of the accident. Call the police if you find your vehicle damaged with no note. The police can investigate the hit-and-run and keep track of all information available. If you witnessed someone hit your car and keep driving, give the police a description of the vehicle and driver, as well as license plate numbers if you saw them.
Can You File for a Hit-and-Run?
Calling the police from the scene of a hit-and-run can initiate a criminal case. The police officer will ask if you wish to press charges if law enforcement finds the culprit. Answering yes means you will cooperate with a hit-and-run case against the at-fault driver if caught. A successful case against the driver could help you win a separate civil case against him or her for your damages. A hit-and-run conviction could serve as evidence during a civil case. A car accident lawyer can help you with a claim against a hit-and-run driver in Massachusetts. A Boston personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain fair compensation for your damages on your behalf.