Parking Lot Accidents

If you hit, scrape or otherwise damage a parked car—or if you’re the victim of such an accident—don’t panic. Here are some steps you can take:

IF YOU’RE THE DRIVER
Don’t drive away—if another customer or a surveillance camera spots you, you could be charged with a hit-and-run which is a jailable offense in Maryland.

Stop your car as close as possible to the incident without blocking traffic if possible. Try to track down the other car’s owner. Head into the store and speak to someone at the customer service desk. Describe the car to the employee, and have him or her announce it over the store’s loudspeaker. Get the name of the person who you spoke with.

Leave a note. If you’re unable to find the other driver, jot down basic information such as your name and phone number, and place it in a secure spot on the car. Write down the license plate number and take a photo of the damage if you have a camera with you.

Call the police. Depending on how extensive the damage is, you may want to involve the police. At least you can show that you tried to contact someone if you are later charged with a hit and run. They’ll document the accident and they can help you find the other car’s owner.

Call your insurance company to set up a claim. It will document that you are attempting to resolve the problem.

IF YOU’RE THE VICTIM
Record evidence. Take pictures of the damage with your phone or a camera, if you have one on hand.
Take thorough notes. If the other driver is still around, jot down his or her name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and insurance company. Gather as much information as possible. It also helps to take a picture of the other driver in case they try to later claim it was not them driving. you can also take pictures of the other person’s insurance documents, license or other documentation.

Get backup. Ask others in the parking lot if they witnessed anything. Also head back into the store and find out if they have security camera footage. You can check for security cameras both inside and outside.

IF YOU’RE THE WITNESS
Provide assistance. If the offending driver is gone, help the other driver document the damage. Give the driver your contact information, in case his or her insurance agent or the police need to contact you for further comment.