Brian White | May 16, 2023 | Car Accidents
Houston witnesses a multitude of car accidents every day. If another driver hits your parked car, you need to take certain steps to protect your claim. A lot depends on whether you can locate the offending driver. Even if you can’t, however, all is not necessarily lost.
How Parked Car Accidents Happen
Parked car accidents can happen in many ways, including:
- “My car was hit while parked on the street”
- “Someone backed into my car in the parking lot.”
- Your car is struck after it malfunctions, and you leave it on the shoulder of a busy highway.
- A drunk driver sideswipes your car while weaving down the road.
No matter how the accident happened, the damage is just as real. Indeed, if your car wasn’t empty at the time, an occupant might have even suffered an injury.
Steps To Take at the Scene of a Parked Car Accident
If you find that you are the victim of a parked car accident, take the following steps:
- Call the police so they can issue a crash report. Texas law requires the police to issue a crash report if there is apparent damage of $1,000 or more. Cooperate with the police, and ask for a copy of the police report.
- Photograph the scene of the accident and the damage to your vehicle. Record the location, time of day, and weather.
- Get identification and insurance details if the driver is still around.
- If the driver left a note, photograph it and show it to both the police and your insurance company.
- Contact your insurance company, even if you plan to claim against the other driver’s liability insurance policy.
If the damage to your car is serious, you might want to consider consulting with a lawyer.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Texas. Penalties include:
- A fine of up to $500 if your damage is less than $200 (barely a scratch).
- If the damage is $200 or more, a judge can assess a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time of up to six months.
Don’t pursue the offending driver if they try to run. This could cause another accident. Nevertheless, try to get as good a description of them and their vehicle as you can without putting yourself in danger.
Does It Matter if You Parked Illegally?
Suppose that your car was illegally parked at the time of the accident. The driver of the car that hit yours might make the argument, “If the car had been parked legally, it wouldn’t have been around for me to hit it in the first place.” Don’t worry; this argument probably won’t fly.
If you parked your car unsafely, however, you might bear liability for the accident. Under Texas comparative fault principles, you might bear partial or even full liability for the accident.
Your Insurance Options
If the other driver left the scene of the accident without identification and you cannot locate the driver, you might still have insurance coverage options. Below are the two most likely:
- Uninsured motorist insurance (UIM): UIM is optional in Texas. If you have it, however, know that it typically covers hit-and-run accidents up to policy limits. Check your policy fine print to make sure.
- Collision insurance: You almost certainly have this insurance if you are still paying off your car; lenders typically require it. This amount will cover repair or replacement up to policy limits for damage to your car. There is usually a deductible.
Other insurance options might apply as well, so check your coverage to be sure.
Get a Houston Car Accident Attorney Involved if the Stakes Are High
You might need a lawyer for a serious parked car accident, even if you plan to settle out of court. Insurance adjusters are expert negotiators, and they work for their employers, not for you. An experienced Houston personal injury attorney, however, will know just how to deal with an insurance adjuster. Contact an attorney today to determine whether your claim is worth pursuing.
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