When someone damages your parked car, it can be immensely frustrating – especially if they’ve fled the scene before you’ve even realized it’s happened. What you do next really depends upon the circumstances, so let’s break it down.
Obviously, first and foremost remain calm and get medical assistance for anyone injured or suffering from shock. So long as everyone is okay, you can focus on the following:
If the other driver has stayed to resolve it with you
Great! Decency is alive and well. This can then be treated like any other accident:
Exchange the following information:
· Mailing Address
· Phone Number
· Driver’s License Number
· Insurance Company & Policy Information
Make notes to include:
· Time of Day and Date
· Weather Conditions
Gather further evidence
Take photos to include both cars (if possible), as well as wider pictures of the surrounding area and each car’s positioning.
Ask around for any witnesses to the accident and take note of their account of the incident and contact details – this could include passers-by, retail workers and local store security camera footage. If the other driver is behaving reasonably and admitting blame, then this may seem unnecessary, but (particularly if the damage is significant), it’s important to be as thorough as possible. In the worst-case scenario, they may change their story once you’ve driven away.
If the other driver has fled the scene
After you’ve finished (understandably) shaking your head at the indecency and injustice of it all – it’s time to crack on with whatever solutions you have at your disposal:
Phone the police
With the person responsible nowhere in sight and a hefty repair bill potentially coming your way, you need to make sure that you have as much on your side as possible. A police report can serve as much-needed legal documentation of the incident down the track, so well worth the time and effort up front. And you never know your luck, the police may very well track down the guilty party with the help of witnesses or local surveillance footage.
Get back up
As mentioned above – get witness accounts and contact details from anyone nearby – you just never know – they may have vital details that could result in the hit-and-run driver being tracked down and held responsible. Take a good look around for any surveillance cameras that may have caught the perpetrator in the act. Businesses often only save their camera footage for a short time before deleting it, so act fast on this – it could make all the difference to holding the right person accountable for your damage.
If the other driver has left a note
If there’s a number, call it immediately. Hopefully, they are genuine people who left you their details in good faith, but just in case the information left is fake, and the damage is significant, you need to know straight up whether you’re dealing with a hit-and-run or not.
Providing you make contact, follow the same steps as outlined above, as if they were still on the scene – exchange information, make notes and gather further evidence.
What about insurance?
If the damage is minimal and communication between you and the other party is amicable, you may decide to handle it outside of the claims process – in which case, book in for a quote to repair the damage ASAP and ensure that your vehicle is assessed for any unforeseen complications arising from the damage that may occur at a later stage (i.e. engine damage after a collision to the front of your vehicle).
Providing the other party is agreeable to paying for the repair privately, it’s your call if you’d prefer to avoid getting the insurance companies involved – particularly if they don’t have any adequate cover. However, this is precisely the reason why it’s so important to shop around for the right car insurance.
Otherwise, contact your insurance company as soon as you can to report the incident and provide them all the details you have gathered.
If you have the other party’s Insurance details to share and they agree that they are at fault, then hopefully the claim will be straightforward – your insurance company will represent you and their insurance company will pay for the damage. You can opt to file the incident directly with their insurer – however, handing it over to your own insurance company can arm you with their representation should any unforeseen complications arise in regard to the claim.
In the unfortunate event that you do not have the responsible party’s information and the police fail to track them down, then it will be up to your insurance company to advise you further as to what level of coverage you can expect and how to proceed.
Final thoughts – be thorough
Dealing with the aftermath of vehicle collision is never fun, and obviously if no one is hurt then there is a lot to be thankful for. Other than that, regardless of the circumstances, it pays to be thorough in your gathering of information and reporting of the incident.
All we can do is control what we can and put ourselves in the best possible position moving forwards, however unfair it may seem.