It is enough hassle dealing with a crowded parking lot when you are out and about. Accidentally hitting someone’s car can make a challenging situation even more difficult.
I don’t know about you, but parking lots are getting increasingly crowded, and the spaces are getting smaller. You must know what to do if you ever end up in this situation.
You only have two choices if you find yourself in this predicament. You can take responsibility and do the right thing, or you can look to see if anyone saw and skedaddle. But know that either choice has consequences.
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What Are Your Choices?
Well, as I said, you can be responsible for your mistake or pretend nothing happened.
They both have pros and cons, but have you ever thought about what you would do?
Many people I know would choose to sneak away, but that can have seriously negative repercussions. You can feel guilty or even get caught and charged with a misdemeanor for your actions.
This is what everyone hopes others will be. Honesty and consideration of others can go a long way. You will feel a lot better when you make a decision that won’t weigh heavily on your conscience.
Why Should I Do Anything?
Aside from feeling better about yourself, there can be negative actions against you when you do the wrong thing and leave. The main issue here is that in quite a few places, putting a ding in someone else’s door and leaving is considered a hit-and-run. And hit-and-run accidents are no laughing matter.
Parking Lot Ding Laws
You can be charged with a crime in certain places if you accidentally dent another person’s car when you leave the scene. Under vehicle code 20002, a parking lot door ding in California is considered a hit-and-run. I know I don’t want to get charged with something that could have been easily avoided.
Three things should have happened to be considered hit and run:
- You left the scene
- You failed to identify yourself to the other party
- There was significant damage to the other property
And let’s face it, you know when you have done significant damage or if you haven’t.
What is the Punishment for a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is considered to be a misdemeanor in most states. Therefore it can be charged as a misdemeanor. There are still some hefty consequences, though.
You can spend up to six months in prison and get a fine of up to $1,000. Plus, it can cause some problems with insurance, which is not fun!
What Steps Should I Take if I Hit Someone?
Stop. Get out of your car and see what the situation is. If you are responsible, you must do the right thing to avoid problems later.
Assess the Damages
The first thing you should do is take the time to look at the damage your door has done to the other car involved. See what it looks like and take a picture, mainly because you might have to tell your insurance provider.
The good news here is that if you are the one who caused the ding or dent in another person’s car, you more than likely will not have to pay any kind of deductible. That will be on the person whose property was damaged.
Make Contact with the Car Owner
As much as it might throw off your schedule, you need to make a good-faith attempt to find and speak to the car owner that you accidentally hit with your door. I hate to wait, but it can often be the best and most considerate option.
If the other car is occupied, you may even want to call the police to ensure you aren’t charged with a hit-and-run.
Information to Exchange
Ensure you get the other person’s insurance information and phone numbers and ask for their driver’s license. In many states, you are required by law to show your license, and it is a good idea to check.
Leave a Note
If you cannot make contact or find out who is the owner of the vehicle, then you should do the next best thing and leave a note on the car you dinged.
Be sure to include the same information about your insurance and the phone number you would share if you made person-to-person contact. This is the next best choice to avoid being penalized with hit-and-run problems.
You can settle the issue without involving insurance. If you do so, you should ensure that you take some precautions.
If you send them money for a repair, send a check or money order and fill out the description of what it is for, then take a photo before it is sent so that if anything ever happens, you can prove that you did your part.
Let the insurance companies handle the issue as well, which can be easier, but might cost you more in time, effort, and monetarily.
Hitting someone’s car with your door accidentally can be frustrating and embarrassing, especially if the owner is in the car. I know when I found myself in this situation, I was mortified. But with a bit of courtesy and a smile, I found an easy solution, and I’m confident you will be able too.