Drivers who hit parked cars don't always leave notes

May 30, 2013 12:00 AM

Most drivers know that if they hit a parked car by accident, there are a certain set of rules that should be followed. Not only is it common courtesy to leave a note, but it's also the law - meaning that you could run into some serious trouble if you don't leave contact information behind after causing damage to another automobile. 

What drivers think 
A recent poll from PEMCO Insurance focused on how drivers in Portland, Ore., and Washington State react to these accidents. Only about half of the motorists in Portland - 53 percent - say they would always leave a note at the scene of an accident. In Washington, that number jumped to 67 percent, but it still leaves room for people to flee without taking responsibility for damage. 

"We don't know what to make of the difference between answers from Portland and Washington drivers. Maybe that's best left to psychologists," said Jon Osterberg, spokesman for PEMCO. "But if you ever are in a car crash, we recommend all drivers follow several important steps to ensure the best outcome for those involved."

What to do if you hit a parked car
To avoid the harsh penalties that can come about from being involved in one of these accidents, be sure you're doing everything by the book if you accidentally hit a parked car. Leaving a note with your contact and insurance information is one of, if not the, most essential parts of the process.

Once that's complete, take photos of the damage to assess the level of car repair needed as a direct result of that specific accident. The PEMCO poll found that only one-quarter of drivers completed this step, but with smartphones, it's easy to snap a few photos and cover your bases. Take pictures of the surrounding environment and the damage done to a vehicle can go a long way in figuring out what exactly happened at the scene. 

If a driver hits your car but doesn't provide any contact information, there are still a few things you can try. Check the area immediately around you to see if anyone may have seen something. You can also reach out to whoever runs the parking lot, if anyone does, because they could have video surveillance that provides evidence of what happened. You'll want to inform the police and your insurance company as soon as possible, as that will give you the best chance at getting any auto repair fixed quickly and efficiently. 

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