Few things are more frustrating than walking up to your vehicle in a parking lot and realizing that someone has hit your car. Whether you have a ding, a scratch, a dent, or worse, it can be enough to change the whole mood of your day as you try to determine what steps to take if your car was hit in a parking lot. There are multiple scenarios that may occur, and your specific situation will determine what you do next.
The damage has already been done, and now you just need to figure out the best way to obtain compensation for repairs. If you find yourself exclaiming, “Someone hit my parked car,” the experienced attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble can help.
Steps to Take If Your Car Was Hit in a Parking Lot
A parking lot hit and run accident occurs when the driver who hit your vehicle leaves the scene of the accident without stopping to fulfill their duties to the owner of the damaged vehicle. Generally, the liable party is required to make a reasonable effort to contact you. If the driver failed to leave a note, here are some reasonable steps to take:
Contact the Local Authorities
If the parking lot is in a facility that has security officers, you may want to start there. They can keep a record of what happened. It is also important to file an accident report with the police. The report could play an important part in proving material facts of the claim, such as time and location.
Check for Security Cameras
Some parking lots, especially those for retail establishments, business offices, or schools may have security cameras. These cameras may not always be visible, so it is important to ask. If the accident was caught on camera, you might be able to find important information like the car license plate number, a description of the driver, and the exact time the accident occurred.
Identify Witnesses to the Accident
You only have a short span from the time you discover the damage when there may be witnesses in the area. Make sure to look around and ask anyone nearby if they saw anything. There is a chance that someone may have been walking by or sitting in a vehicle when the incident occurred and can provide some information. Ask these witnesses for their contact information in case you need their testimony later on.
Take Photos of the Damage
Before moving your vehicle, take photos of the damage to your car. Even minor dings or paint scratches can be costly to repair. Make sure to also get photos of the entire parking lot, where your car is positioned, and what is next to it. These may be used as evidence or help depict what may have happened.
Review Your Insurance Policy
It is a good idea to review your insurance policy to determine what coverage is available. You may be covered if you have certain types of collisions or uninsured motorist coverage. Ideally, you will be able to find the responsible party.
Contact an Attorney
It can be useful to reach out to a hit and run accident lawyer who can investigate your claim and gather additional details in pursuit of the responsible driver. If the driver is found, you may be able to seek compensation through their insurance or through a personal injury lawsuit.
Consequences for a Parking Lot Hit and Run
Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in the case of injuries or a certain level of property damage. A person who causes property damage is required to stop or return to the accident scene and attempt to find the vehicle’s owner. Failing to do so could lead to a fine between $200 to $400 and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense. Points may also be added to the responsible party’s license.
The state does allow the responsible driver to meet their obligations by written notification. This is usually secured to the vehicle or provided in a way that the vehicle owner is likely to receive it. Information includes the driver’s full name, address, contact information, and insurance information.
New Jersey Car Accident Statute of Limitations
New Jersey requires that you contact your vehicle insurance company within 10 days of the accident. It is important that you meet this deadline to avoid issues filing your claim. Just because you have filed an insurance claim does not mean that you have to accept a settlement offer. It is possible for an insurance company to undervalue the extent of the damage. Make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. An experienced lawyer can help assess your claim and negotiate on your behalf.
In some cases, you may be best served by filing a lawsuit. A lawyer can help determine if that is the best course of action. It is important that you file your case within two years of the date the accident occurred, or you will be barred from seeking legal recovery. Two years may seem like plenty of time, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it may become to obtain necessary evidence or contact witnesses.
Contact Us Today
The award-winning New Jersey attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble have been awarded millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We are real people like you, and we understand that unexpected damage to your vehicle can be extremely frustrating and cause a financial burden. If you find yourself saying, “someone hit my parked car,” let us help you understand the steps to take if your car was hit in a parking lot and get the compensation you need to repair or replace your vehicle. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.