What Do You Do If Your Car Was Hit While Parked?
January 24, 2022 | Car Accidents
What to Do if Your Car Was Hit While Parked?
If, after a long day at work, you walk out to your car and find that someone hit your car while you parked it in the lot, it can ruin your evening.
Act quickly––your case’s success depends on it
You may feel frantic and frightened after finding out that someone hit your parked car, but you need to set aside those feelings for a little while and take charge in the moments after finding out about your damaged vehicle.
In the moments following the accident, you should:
Notify law enforcement
Call the police and get them to the scene of the accident. If the person who hit your parked car is still there, the police will gather a statement from them, document the scene, and create an official police report.
Exchange information with the other driver
Swap contact information with the other driver yourself, and be sure to get their insurance information so that you can file a claim against them for your damages later on with your lawyer.
Document the accident scene and your injuries
Take pictures of the scene, talk to witnesses, and collect other evidence from the accident scene. If somebody injured you, you need a physician to treat you and file a medical report.
Take all of this information, including copies of the police and medical reports, and call your car accident lawyer so that you can file an insurance policy claim against the other driver that hit your car while it was parked. Even if you are in a parking lot and see cameras its still beneficial to have your own documentation available.
Seeking medical attention is crucial to your case’s success
If you were in the parked car during the accident, you could have suffered severe injuries, like broken bones, lacerations, and whiplash. Seeking medical attention not only addresses your health condition, it also supplies documentation to build your case.
Keeping your imaging scan and lab test results
These documents can back up your diagnosis and prove the severity of your condition. Examples of imaging scans and lab test results include ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, and MRIs. We can request these documents if you did not get them while undergoing treatment.
Writing down the dates of your appointments
Keep a journal while undergoing treatment. In addition to writing down your day-to-day pain levels, write down the dates of your appointments.
Be sure to include:
- Who you saw
- The location of the care facility
- What types of care you received
- Follow-up appointment dates
This information can prove that the accident injured you and that you deserve compensation for your healthcare expenses.
Following through with your treatment plan
After your accident, going to the doctor and getting a diagnosis isn’t enough. You need to follow their recommendations if you want to reach maximum medical improvement.
By failing to do so, you risk:
- Having the insurer contest the cause and nature of your condition
- Allowing the other party to say that you worsened your health by foregoing medical care
- Devaluing your claim
If you want to discontinue treatment, run it by your doctor first. Also, ask them to write a statement explaining your decision.
Get Informed about your state’s traffic laws
Here are some traffic laws that might be relevant to your circumstances:
Missouri and Illinois’s hit-and-run laws
Missouri Revised Statute § 577.060 establishes that hit-and-run accidents are illegal and can result in felony or misdemeanor charges, depending on the nature of the collision. The same goes for Illinois. Per 625 ILCS 5/11-401, anybody who fails to pull over after an accident that hurts or kills someone could face criminal charges.
The criminal case against the other party will not award you compensation. Your civil case against them could, however. If a court convicts the other party of a crime, this could support your claim or lawsuit.
Missouri and Illinois’s statutes of limitations
If you were injured when the other vehicle hit your parked car, you only have a limited time to seek damages under your state’s statute of limitations. Illinois especially has a short deadline; you only have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit, per 735 ILCS 5/13-202.
In Missouri, you generally have five years from the date of your accident to file, according to Missouri Code § 516.120.
Despite these deadlines, you must pursue legal action promptly because:
- Certain evidence could disappear over time.
- The liable insurer may have different deadlines for filing a lawsuit.
- You want to give your lawyer enough time to build your case.
- People’s recollections of the collision could fade with time, making their testimonies unreliable.
Missouri and Illinois’s fault laws
You might think that because you parked your vehicle at the time of the collision, you cannot be at fault. That’s not necessarily the case. For instance, suppose that you were parked in a tow-away zone when the other driver hit you. In this instance, both you and the other motorist could share fault for the collision.
These laws could apply to your situation, depending on where you live:
- Illinois operates on a modified comparative fault system, per 735 ILCS 5/2-1116. This means that as long as you were not more than 50 percent at fault for what happened, you can seek damages.
- Missouri operates on a pure comparative negligence system, as explained by RSMo § 537.765. You can seek compensation even if you caused 99 percent of the accident.
Your role in the accident could affect your final settlement, however. For instance, if you caused 10 percent of the accident and your damages totaled $10,000, you could only seek 90 percent of your losses, which would be $9,000.
Both Missouri and Illinois require you to carry auto insurance
Every motorist in these states is required to carry auto insurance. Even if you’ve never been in an accident before, having insurance gives you options if a crash severely injured you.
The Illinois Department of Insurance requires you to carry:
- $25,000 in bodily injury for one person
- $50,000 for all bodily injuries in one accident
- $20,000 in property damage coverage
Alternatively, per the Missouri Department of Insurance, you must have:
- $25,000 in bodily injury for one person
- $50,000 for all bodily injuries in one accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage
The American Bar Association (ABA) says that most auto accidents resolve through insurance claims. However, if you or the other party doesn’t have insurance, this could hinder your ability to recover damages.
Your lawyer will understand your state’s auto accident laws
It doesn’t matter if you think that you can handle your parked car accident claim yourself; you should consider calling an attorney immediately after finding out that someone hit your car. Your lawyer more than likely knows more about your state’s traffic laws than you do and will know how to negotiate with the negligent driver’s insurance company to your advantage.
Your car accident attorney has probably handled cases similar to yours, so they’ll know how to bring swift justice if another driver hits your parked car. Most states follow the at-fault rule, and if your lawyer can prove that the other driver is liable for hitting your car, you can receive medical, pain, and suffering and lost wages damages for your suffering.
If you carry no-fault insurance, you may need to first file a claim against your insurance company for your damages. Your lawyer can tell you which fault rule your state follows and help you file an insurance policy claim, either against your insurance company or the other driver’s, to get the most compensation for damage to your parked car.
Actions to take after filing an insurance claim
Insurers may attempt to undervalue or outright deny your claim. Here are some things to keep in mind after filing your insurance claim:
Refrain from giving a recorded statement
A recorded statement does not help you. It helps the insurer by giving them ammunition to deny your case. You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement––regardless of what they tell you.
By giving such a statement:
- You give the claims adjuster the chance to edit your words out of context.
- You could incorrectly answer a question, giving the insurer reason to deny your claim.
- You could accidentally admit fault for the accident.
Claims adjusters are experts at asking “loaded” questions. A seemingly unrelated question could, in fact, compel you to share something you otherwise would not.
Avoid posting to social media
Even if certain things you share online are private, the claims adjuster could still access your posts. They could do this by joining certain groups you’re a part of or request to be friends with you, pretending to be someone else. You can still check your feed and see what your friends are posting.
However, we discourage our clients from sharing statutes, uploading photos, and commenting on other people’s posts. The claims adjuster could see this activity and argue that because you’re able to use social media, you’re not as hurt as you claim.
Look out for bad faith insurance practices
The laws in both Illinois and Missouri protect injured claimants against bad faith insurance practices.
Examples of bad faith insurance practices include:
- Misrepresenting a policy’s benefits
- Unjustly denying claimants’ compensation
- Undervaluing your damages for no valid reason
- Refusing to investigate your situation
- Pressuring you into accepting a low settlement
- Refusing to follow through with a clearly outlined benefit
- Refusing to acknowledge your claim
- Refusing to answer your phone calls and emails
- Delaying your claim to encourage you to drop it
Do not accept the first offer
The claims adjuster knows that you want to settle your case as soon as possible. So, they might step in just days after the accident and offer you a settlement. Yet, this may not account for your future expenses—especially if your condition is still evolving.
By partnering with our firm, we can calculate your losses and determine the overall value of your case. That way, you’ll know what counts as a fair offer. Remember: if you accept an insurance settlement, you can’t ask for more money later. If you accepted an offer and your health takes a turn for the worse, you would have to shoulder those costs on your own.
Abide by the insurance carrier’s deadlines
Earlier, we said that depending on where you live, you could have up to five years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Yet, this deadline does not apply to insurance claims. The insurer, not the state, sets those deadlines. Most insurance companies want to know about an accident as soon as it happens so they can process the claim.
By failing to notify the insurer promptly, they could contest some aspects of your case. This could delay your case and prevent your claim from being processed promptly.
How a lawyer from our firm can help
Our team understands that getting into any accident is stressful. If you were involved in an accident with a parked car, we can handle your case from start to finish. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients in both Missouri and Illinois––and we’re prepared to put the same amount of time and effort into your case.
We can determine if you have a viable case
During your free case review, we’ll ask some questions about your situation, such as:
- How long ago did the accident happen?
- What losses did you incur because of the collision?
- How did the accident happen?
- Did you already file a claim?
- Did the other driver flee the scene of the collision?
The answers to these and other questions will let us assess your situation. If we determine that you have a case, we can represent you on a contingency-fee basis. In this arrangement, you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case. You don’t pay us anything to get started advocating for you, either.
We can investigate your collision
To determine fault and liability for your losses, we will launch an investigation into your accident.
- Speaking with eyewitnesses
- Consulting with accident reconstruction specialists
- Reviewing your car’s black box data (if available)
- Reviewing photos and videos of the accident scene
- Reading the police report
- Examining any traffic citations issued at the accident scene
All of this information may prove that you were the victim of negligence. We may employ other measures than those listed above.
We can calculate your losses
We will review your accident and explain what types of damages you could recover.
Using your medical records, information from your employer, and statements from economists, you could receive compensation for:
- Past and future healthcare expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Tips, bonuses, and commissions
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage expenses
- Transportation and rideshare costs
- The loss of one or more limbs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You could seek recovery for other types of losses.
We can file your insurance claim
If you are in Missouri or Illinois, your car was hit while parked, and you know who hit it, you can recover damages from the other driver. If you do not know who hit your car, you may still have options.
If you have evidence from the accident scene, such as pictures of your vehicle’s damage, a photo of the other car driving away, their license plate, you can use this to file an insurance claim with your local lawyer.
This means that after a collision, you file a claim with the other party’s insurer.
Your lawyer will:
- Talk to you about your case
- Decide what damages you should claim
- Help you write a demand letter
- File an insurance policy claim for the parked car accident
If someone hit a parked car and drove away from the scene, they can face prison time, steep fines and fees, and their insurance rate could increase by at least 87 percent. The fines and fees are in addition to damages owed to the non-liable driver.
We can negotiate a settlement
After filing your claim, we hope that the insurer will agree to our terms and cover your damages. If this happens, we can resolve your case at this point and avoid going to court. If not, however, we can negotiate an offer.
- Showing the cost of your damages
- Providing additional pieces of evidence
- Reading the liable policy
- Considering a lawsuit
Most parked car accident cases resolve out of court; however, we do not shy away from tough legal fights. If a lawsuit is necessary to recoup compensation for your damages, then we have no problem doing so.
We can file your lawsuit in civil court
Our trial lawyers have no problem filing a lawsuit if the liable insurer doesn’t want to pay for your losses. Your lawsuit will be against the party that hit your car. We will argue that because they acted negligently, they should pay for your injury-related losses.
While your case unfolds in court, the insurance company might rethink its decision and offer a fair settlement. If this happens, we can drop the case and accept the settlement. Otherwise, we can take your case through to trial.
Missouri Traffic Laws and Consequences for a Hit-and-Run
The state of Missouri is an at-fault state and follows the negligence law of Pure Contributory Negligence. If you are in Missouri, your car was hit while parked, and you know who it is that hit your car, you can recover damages from the other driver.
If you do not know who hit your car, see if you can get:
- Pictures of your vehicle’s damage
- A photo of the other car driving away
- Their license plate
If you caught a glimpse of the driver, you can use this to file an insurance claim with your local lawyer.
Your lawyer will talk to you about your case, decide what damages you should claim, help you write a demand letter, and file an insurance policy claim for the parked car accident.
If someone hits a parked car in Missouri and they drive away from the scene, they can face prison time, steep fines and fees, and their insurance rates could increase by 87 percent. This sum of fines and fees is in addition to damages owed to the non-liable driver.
Speak with a Lawyer about your parked car accident case
A lawyer with our firm can give you peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands and being taken care of. We can help you file an insurance policy claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you at a trial if needed.
If you need a car accident attorney, contact The Dixon Injury Firm and let us fight for your parked car accident claim today. Call (314) 208-2808 to get started.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132