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What’s the best course of action if you’re involved in an accident with a parked car? It’s only natural to feel uncomfortable when this type of accident takes place, but the best thing you can (and should) do is to try to remain calm. After taking a deep breath and preparing yourself, consider the following ten things you can do.

One: Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident

It is against the law across the country to leave the scene of an accident. The consequences for leaving jump up drastically from those of hitting a parked car. If you drive off, you could be faced with a hit and run charge. You may face a misdemeanor charge, expensive fine, jail time, community service, the loss of your license or any combination of these.

Two: Find the Owner of the Car

When the owner of the other car arrives at the scene, they are entitled to your name, address, phone number, drivers’ license number, license plate number and insurance information. Be as polite as possible in this situation, but don’t apologize. Your apology could be construed as an admission of guilt.

Three: Leave Your Information

If the owner of the other car cannot be found, you should leave a note with your name, phone number and a description of the accident. You may also want to include your insurance information. Be careful about wording the description. Anything you say in the note could be used against you later, either in court or by the insurance company.

Four: Look Around for Witnesses

If you notice anyone who can verify your version of the accident, see if you can get their contact information. They may be willing to write down a description of what happened or share a video if they took one. This could offer some protection to you down the line.

Five: Take Some Photographs

Although you’re trying to do the right thing, other people may not. It would be terrible to accept responsibility for a small ding, only to end up paying for much more serious damages. Take pictures of damage done to each car and of the license plate on the other car.

Six: Contact Your Insurance Company

The sooner you notify your insurance company, the faster they’ll be able to bring the case to a close. You may also find that your agents are a good source of information as you progress through the situation.

Seven: Call the Police

In many states, you are required to call the police any time your vehicle is involved in an accident. Many insurance companies require a police report before they will complete their work. Before the police officer (or officers) leave, you may want to get their names and badge numbers for your own records.

Eight: Be Careful Discussing the Accident

Even though your situation may be straightforward, you should still be careful sharing details of the accident with anyone other than the police, your lawyer or your insurance company. Don’t talk to representatives from the other insurance company without first talking to your own insurer.

Nine: Be Wary of Offers to Settle

If you’ve sustained any injuries, you may not notice their extent for several days or even a couple of months. Don’t settle any claims until you’ve visited with your doctor and discussed the situation with an attorney.

Ten: Consider Hiring a Lawyer

If anyone was injured during the accident, you may want the services of an attorney for your own protection. A lawyer may work in your defense or help you receive compensation for injuries. An attorney may provide guidance and additional resources.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of hitting a parked car, you may need to quickly bring your emotions under control, so that you can act correctly. With an attorney on your side, the entire situation may progress a bit more smoothly.

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