Each year, drivers damage hundreds of thousands of parked vehicles. In fact, around 11.4 percent of all accidents that take place in the U.S. involve a parked vehicle. If someone has damaged your car while it's in a legal parking space, you may be able to sue. So if you've ever wondered, "can you sue for damaging a parked car?" the answer is often yes. Below, learn what to do when another driver hits your parked car and how you can sue for any damage that occurs.
Car accidents can be extremely stressful. Learn about some actions to take so that you are prepared in case this happens to you.
Can You Sue for Damaging a Parked Car?
All 50 states criminalize driving away without letting anyone know about the damage or hit-and-run. And aside from being against the law, hitting another person's parked car and leaving without notifying anyone can subject a driver to civil liability. Even if someone stops and provides their contact information, they can still be held financially responsible for any damages that result.
If someone hits your parked car while and doesn't stop to leave a note, it's important to call the police. This can document the accident for your insurance company (and any later legal claim). It can also put the police on notice of the person who hit you—and if they're caught, they can be arrested and charged.
There are some exceptions, though. If you were parked illegally or parked in a way that created danger for other drivers, the person who struck your car may have a defense to any claim you bring. And if you live in a no-fault state like Kentucky, your own insurance may pay for the damages.
What to Do If Your Parked Car is Damaged
If another driver has damaged your parked car, there are a few key steps to take.
Get Personal Information
If the person who hit your car left a note or stopped to provide information, keep it handy. If you can, take a photo of the other driver's license plate or vehicle registration.
The other driver may not stop or leave any information in many cases. Look around for security cameras and take note of what businesses are nearby. The hit-and-run may have been captured on surveillance video or witnessed by store employees. If a driver hits your parked car in a rural area, those nearby may have seen something.
Call the Police
When police respond to the scene, they'll make a report. This includes your contact information, a description of the location and accident, and any other information you provide. The police will interview the other driver if the driver has remained at the scene. The police can even administer a field sobriety test if there are signs of impairment. Having a police report can be important when seeking compensation for the damages to your vehicle.
Take Photos of Your Vehicle
Take photos and videos at the accident scene before you drive your vehicle away. You'll want to have your damaged vehicle repaired as quickly as possible in most cases. Without many pictures of the damage, the insurance company may balk when paying for repairs. Even if your insurance company sends out an adjuster to handle your claim, having your photos can be handy.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Regardless of whether an accident was your fault, you'll need to notify your auto insurance company as soon as possible. Because much of the damage to parked cars tends to be inflicted by hit-and-run drivers, your own insurance policy may need to pay for any repairs to your vehicle.
Contact an Attorney
Your insurance company may quietly handle any parked car damages in many cases. But suppose you're not getting a fair offer for the damage your vehicle (or its contents) sustained. If you're having trouble tracking down a hit-and-run driver, or you have sustained injuries in a parked car accident, it can be worth talking to a lawyer about your case. You may be entitled to more compensation than the insurance companies are willing to offer.
How to Sue for Damaging a Parked Car
So, can you sue for damaging a parked car? The answer is often yes. The insurance company may not provide you with a fair settlement. In other cases, it may refuse to honor a claim entirely. You may struggle to track down an at-fault driver. You might also find that your damages exceed your state's small claims court limit.
An attorney can often help you recover the compensation you deserve. From subpoenaing witnesses and video evidence to negotiating with the insurance company, your attorney can investigate your claim and help you recover damages. However, keep in mind that attorneys can get expensive. So if you would like to file a small claims case on your own, check out an online small claims filing service.
At Dispute, the small claims filing process is made easy and affordable through our app. Instead of managing all of the paperwork, court dates, and filing on top of your regular responsibilities, let our experts take care of it for you. All you have to do is check your user dashboard for updates on your case. Our tools make it easy to manage the details for any state and county. All you need to do is put together evidence and show up for your day in court.