Determining who is at fault after someone hits a parked car sounds easy until you consider the many possible scenarios that could lead to this situation. The correct answer to this question will depend on the circumstances of an accident.
What can Cause Someone to Hit a Parked Car?
Many different factors can cause a driver to collide with a non-moving vehicle, in particular, a parked car. You might assume that the driver of the moving vehicle is automatically at fault, but that assumption is not always right.
Here are some examples of things that can cause a collision between a moving vehicle and a parked car:
- The driver or a passenger in the parked car opens the door into the path of a moving vehicle. The moving vehicle does not have time to stop and runs into the door of the parked car. The person who opened the door of the parked car is likely at fault for failure to look before opening the door into a traffic lane.
- The driver of the moving vehicle is distracted, drunk, or falls asleep at the wheel and strays out of the traffic lane into a parked car. The operator of the moving vehicle will probably be at fault in this situation.
- The driver of the moving vehicle has a medical emergency, like a heart attack or seizure. When a driver has a legitimate reason for not being able to control the car, he might not be legally responsible.
- The driver of the moving vehicle misjudges the “footprint” of the parked car or the moving vehicle and accidentally strikes the side of the parked car. This situation can happen when the driver is unfamiliar with the vehicle he is driving. Let’s say someone rents a moving truck to haul items from a previous residence to a new apartment. If he hits another vehicle, the striking driver is at fault, despite doing his best.
- The driver takes a sudden evasive action because of an urgent situation, such as when a child runs into the street. The driver might not be at fault if he gets forced to hit a parked car because he was preventing an accident that was not his fault.
- An accident happened near the parked car, propelling one of the moving vehicles into the parked car, and the driver of the moving car could not prevent the collision. The person at fault in the first accident can be responsible for sending vehicles flying into and hitting other cars, including parked cars.
- The car was parked illegally, such as in the street just past a blind corner or sticking out of a driveway at night on an unlit street. In these situations, the person who drove the parked car can be liable to the driver of the moving vehicle.
How the Law Determines Who Is Liable for Hitting a Parked Car
The court will evaluate your injury claim along with the accepted principles of negligence. The American Bar Association (ABA) says that the at-fault party will be the one who:
- Committed a careless act, defined as conduct that does not measure up to the legal duty of care; and,
- That negligence caused an accident in which someone got hurt.
The person who got injured can go after the liable party for the losses he sustained because of the accident.
Damages Available to Someone Hitting a Parked Car
According to the ABA, the at-fault party typically has to pay for the losses his negligence caused, which can include things like:
- Medical bills from the treatment needed for the injuries from the accident
- Wages, salary, self-employment, and other kinds of regular income the accident victim did not get paid because of the accident and his injuries
- Other losses, like disfigurement and pain and suffering
These are just a few examples of the types of compensation a person might be able to pursue from the negligent party.
What to do If Someone Hits Your Parked Car and Flees the Scene
When someone hits your parked car and leaves the scene without calling the police or leaving you their contact information, it is a hit-and-run accident. The hit-and-run driver will almost certainly be at fault.
If that driver is located, your uninsured motorist coverage can help to pay some of your losses, that is, if you carry that optional coverage on your automobile insurance policy. The law and the insurance company will treat the hit-and-run driver the same as a driver who stuck around but did not carry insurance. This approach is logical because there is no insured driver against whom you can make a claim.
Getting Help with Your Parked Car Accident
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we help people who get hurt due to the carelessness of others. Our clients receive responsive legal care, which means that we answer all of your questions and respond to your calls and emails. You will get your attorney’s phone number, and we will provide frequent case updates.
You can call us today for a free case review. There is no obligation. If we take your case, you will not have to pay upfront legal fees. We do not get paid until you win.