WHAT DO I DO IF MY CAR WAS HIT AND DAMAGED WHILE PARKED?

Maybe you're on your way to work in the morning, or finishing up a long grocery shopping trip, when you walk out to your car, thinking about where you're heading next, only to find it seriously banged-up. After letting off a bit of steam with some colorful phrases, what do you do next? Below are some guidelines on what to do when your car is damaged by a hit-and-run driver. 

Call the police immediately

It might not seem like there's an emergency that the police need to address when your car was hit while you weren't in it. However, you are required under the law to report any accident, and the insurance company will likely want to see evidence that the accident was reported to police. It's a good idea to get a copy of the police report that was made of the incident, if the police come out to the scene, or to create your own accident report which you file with the DMV, as you would for a normal accident. Additionally, when calling the police after your car has been hit, you're reporting that a crime has been committed; namely, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage without leaving a note that includes contact information and reporting the incident to the police.

Call your Insurer

It is even more important to immediately report claims regarding a hit-and-run driver to your insurer than it is to report other types of accidents. When a car is hit while parked, your insurer may be skeptical that the damage was caused by another party, and might be slower to pay out your claim. Due to the difficulty in getting such claims paid, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney about your hit-and-run accident where there are no witnesses. Attorneys understand the claims process, and can be ready to take additional action if your insurer at first refuses to pay.

Note that this information regarding contacting your insurance is only for those with uninsured motorist coverage as part of their policy. If you carry only a "Basic" insurance policy under the law, you are not insured against property damage or injury caused by uninsured or unidentified drivers. Only New Jersey drivers with "Standard" policies have uninsured motorist coverage.

Take photos of your vehicle

In order to help support your claim, take lots of photos of the vehicle as it looked when you found it. Be sure to document any broken glass on the ground under the vehicle, and the position of the car, in order to support your claim that it was hit while parked, not while you were driving it (and thus, while you could've been partially or wholly at fault for the crash).

Seek out an attorney who is well-versed in New Jersey car insurance and hit-and-run laws when you need to file an uninsured or unidentified motorist claim for a hit and run accident. For a free consultation, contact the Morristown car accident attorneys at Smith & Doran at 973-292-0016.

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Morristown, NJ 07960

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