What To Do With Parked Car Accidents
Car accidents are something that can truly happen to anyone. You don’t even necessarily have to be driving to end up being involved with a car crash. Every year, thousands of people have the unfortunate experience of having their cars hit while they were parked. Or in some cases, people may be in a parked car when another driver hits it. While many of these cases only involve property damage, car accidents involving parked cars can potentially result in injuries, or even death. According to the IIHS, 392 fatal car accidents in 2016 involved parked cars.
Most people know that you’re supposed to exchange information with another driver in the event of a car accident, but what do you do if the accident involved a parked car whose owner/driver can’t be found right away? Or if you’re the victim in a parked car accident, what should you do next?
In the state of Michigan, Chapter 256, section 620 of the Michigan Vehicle Code explains exactly what a driver needs to do if they hit a parked cart:
“The driver of any vehicle which collides upon either public or private property with any vehicle which is attended or unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the vehicle, or if such owner cannot be located, shall forthwith report it to the nearest or most convenient police officer.”
So if you hit a parked car, simply leaving a note before leaving the scene because you couldn’t find the driver doesn’t exactly meet the requirements of Michigan law. Not only does Michigan law require car accidents involving parked cars to be reported to the police if the owner can’t be located, it also requires police reports to be made under the following circumstances, so there may be more than one reason an accident needs to be reported:
The accident caused at least $1,000 in property damage
The accident resulted in injury or death
The accident caused damage to other unattended property adjacent to the road
If your parked car was hit by someone who left the scene without reporting it to the police or attempting to find you, it’s very important to make a police report yourself, especially if they didn’t even leave a note. Or if an at-fault driver even suggests not reporting a parked car accident to the police, it’s still important to report it. Even in a case like this when you are very obviously not at fault for the accident, insurance companies will still very likely want to see a police report before they pay any claims. If an officer is unable to come to the scene of the accident, you can still make a report by going to the nearest police station.
Another important thing to do in a parked car accident, whether a driver stays at the scene or leaves, is talk to any witnesses if possible and get their names and contact information. If a driver fled the scene, witnesses may be able to describe exactly what happened, give a description of the driver and their car, or they may have even gotten their license plate number. Also, be sure to take lots of pictures of the accident scene from many different angles. Make sure that your pictures not only show the damage to your car, but exactly where the accident occurred.
If a parked car accident resulted in injury or death, it’s extremely important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. By talking to a car accident lawyer, you’ll be able to get answers to all of your questions and they’ll know which steps need to be taken next to move forward with your claim. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer who is highly experienced in Michigan car accident law. Contact us today for help with your case.