I Hit a Parked Car… Now What?

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Not all car accidents involve two moving vehicles. Many involve parked cars – often without the owner present. Hitting a parked car brings with it the same driver responsibilities as a moving car accident in Nebraska. The at-fault driver must stop at the scene, exchange information and file an insurance claim. Taking the right steps after hitting a parked car in Omaha can improve the insurance process. It can also help you avoid criminal charges for a hit-and-run.

what to do after hitting a parked car

Pull Over

State requirements in Nebraska make it mandatory to stop at the scene of any car accident – including collisions with parked cars. If you knowingly strike someone else’s vehicle and keep driving, it is the crime of hit-and-run. You could face criminal charges if an eyewitness or surveillance camera saw the accident and recorded your plate numbers. The penalties for a hit-and-run in Nebraska can include fines, jail time and license suspension. Pull over immediately and park your car someplace safe, out of traffic. Check yourself for any injuries. Then, exit your vehicle when it is safe to do so and return to the parked vehicle you struck.

Exchange Information

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-696 requires all drivers involved in accidents resulting in property damages or injuries to stop at the scene and provide information to the owner of the other vehicle. If you hit a parked car in Omaha, you legally must get your information to the owner of the vehicle you damaged. First, try to exchange information by finding the vehicle’s owner. The law obligates you to act within a standard of reasonable care, or in a way a normal and prudent driver would in the same situation. You must make a reasonable effort to locate the vehicle’s owner.

If you find the owner, give him or her your name, phone number, address and driver’s license number. If you cannot find the owner, you must include this information on a note and leave it in a conspicuous place in or on the parked car. Write clearly and legibly. Failing to leave a note is the same as a hit-and-run. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Nebraska. The other driver needs your information so he or she can contact your insurance company and file a claim to repair the property damage inflicted.

Report the Accident to a Peace Officer

Nebraska law also requires someone in an accident that damages an unattended vehicle to report the collision to an appropriate peace officer without unnecessary delay. You can call Omaha’s nonemergency police number to report the collision with a parked car immediately at (402) 444-4877. If the accident caused any injuries or property damages over $1,000, dial 911 from the scene. You do not have to admit fault for the accident while on the phone with peace officers. Wait for the officer to arrive, explain what happened and write down your police report number. The police can help gather additional information about the parked car accident.

Call Your Insurance Company

Call your auto insurance provider to report the crash as soon as possible. The insurance agent will ask questions about the wreck, such as its time, date and location. Take photographs of the property damages while at the scene to show your insurance provider, if possible. Your insurer can expedite the claims process. If you were at fault for the accident, your insurance company might increase your premiums.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Although most car accidents involving parked cars are the fault of the other driver, some exceptions exist. If the other vehicle was parked illegally, for example, both drivers could share fault for the accident. The illegally parked driver might be partially to blame, while the other driver would absorb the remaining liability for failing to avoid the car.

It may be necessary to hire a car accident attorney to help you work through your parked car accident claim in Omaha. If you believe the other driver is at least partially to blame, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options. The comparative negligence defense could reduce your liability and help you avoid an increase in your premiums. A lawyer could walk you through the entire insurance claims process after hitting a parked car.