Contrary to popular belief, the majority of traffic accidents involve parked vehicles.
If another driver hits your parked car in Virginia, one of two different scenarios will play out:
- The other driver will attempt to contact you, either by speaking with you in person or by leaving you a note.
- The driver won’t attempt to contact you, and you’ll have to report the accident to the police.
While the first is often a civil issue that you’ll have to talk to your insurance agent about, the second is a criminal matter (“hit and run”) that may require additional effort on your part.
In this article, we’ll go over what you should do if another driver hits your parked car.
We’ll also talk about your legal responsibilities and options if the person who hit you cannot be identified.
Accidents with Identifiable Drivers
Under Virginia law, a driver must provide their name and insurance information after they are involved in an auto accident, even with a stopped vehicle.
If that driver cannot find the owner of the vehicle, they also have the option of both leaving a note and contacting the police within 24 hours to report the accident.
The “gist” of this law basically says that a driver must make a “reasonable attempt” at getting in contact with you after the accident.
In this fashion, accidents involving “identifiable” drivers who crash into parked cars will proceed in the same way as the normal fender benders on a roadway.
In general, you should contact the police and emergency services (if needed), write down the other driver’s information, and take pictures of the accident.
Then, since drivers who hit parked cars are usually “at-fault” for the accident, you should get in contact with the other driver’s insurance to file a claim.
After investigating the matter, the other driver’s insurance will mail you a settlement agreement which, after you read over and agree to the document, will then lead to a settlement award to pay for your damages.
Do I need to call my insurance company?
All auto insurance policies require drivers to report any accident, even those you were not responsible for.
Additionally, you shouldn’t worry about your rates increasing after someone hits your parked vehicle.
Generally speaking, insurance companies will only increase your rates after an accident if you are found to be “at-fault” for the crash.
Put another way, unless you parked your car in the middle of the road, you’ll generally see no change in your rates after another driver hits your parked vehicle.
Do I need to call the police?
Under Virginia law, you don’t have to contact the police after a traffic accident, it’s just a generally recommended action.
This is because the Virginia Code only requires that the drivers report the accident to one of the several people listed in the Virginia Code after a crash.
Talking about the crash with the other driver (and trading contact information) generally fulfills this requirement.
Do I need a lawyer?
Ultimately, whether or not you call a personal injury lawyer is up to you.
However, most minor parked car accidents generally do not require the assistance of an attorney.
You should only consider contacting an attorney if:
- You were somehow injured in the accident (such as if you were in the parked car), or if the damage to your vehicle was extreme. This is especially true if the driver who hit you is uninsured or underinsured.
- You believe you may be at fault. This is very unlikely unless you were parked in an unusual or illegal location.
Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance?
In most cases, the insurance company of the person who hit you will end up paying your damages.
However, you’ll have to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to get this process started.
As an additional note, make sure to be especially careful when talking to the insurance company.
Insurance claim adjusters are notorious for steering the conversation in a way that causes drivers to admit that they were at-fault for the accident, or that the accident wasn’t as serious as you claimed.
Hit and Run Accidents (“Leaving the Scene of the Accident” in Virginia)
On the other hand, you might not be able to find the person who hit your vehicle.
If so, you have been the victim of a hit and run accident.
In Virginia, “leaving the scene of an accident” is a crime, so you should begin by reporting this crime to the police.
Once they arrive at the scene, explain what happened as concisely as possible while mentioning every important detail.
After the police take your statement, make sure you request copies of the accident report.
Once you have these reports, contact your insurance company right away.
Provide them with all the information you have, including both reports.
Will my insurance pay for a hit and run accident?
How much your insurance pays out following a hit and run accident will depend on what coverage you have.
For example, many plans that offer uninsured motorist coverage also provide coverage in the event of a hit and run accident.
In most cases, this is where the money to fix your car will come from.
In addition, having collision coverage may reduce your costs significantly.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to receive full compensation if you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
In such an event, you may want to reach out to your local police station or a nonprofit to see if there are other ways to repair your vehicle.
In most cases, you can resolve an accident involving your parked car on your own.
Generally, all you have to do is get in touch with the other driver’s insurance company and file a claim with them.
In the event of a hit and run, you should report the accident to your own insurance company, who will often pay for your vehicle’s repairs.