You run inside to grab some lunch at a local restaurant and someone hits your car while you’re inside. You come outside to a damaged bumper. The car is still there, but the driver is nowhere to be found. What happens next?
Wait for the Driver
First and foremost, don’t panic and don’t do anything rash. Don’t retaliate. Breathe and get ready for the next steps.
If you’re not in a rush, you could wait for the driver to return. But if it’s a commercial vehicle, like a Mr. Rooter truck, you could wind up waiting for hours. If you don’t have the time to wait, don’t rush off. It’s still important to get information before leaving.
If the vehicle is still parked, there’s a chance that the driver had no idea that the collision even occurred. There’s a good chance that the driver would be apologetic and ready to exchange insurance information.
Take Down Information
While you’re waiting for the driver to return, take the time to write down information. Gather the following bits of information:
- License plate
- Make and model of the vehicle
- Vehicle color
- Any other identifying information
Documenting this information will ensure that the police can locate the driver if he or she doesn’t return before you leave.
Along with the above-listed information, you should also jot down the time that you discovered the damage as well as the weather and traffic conditions.
Talk to Witnesses
Look for nearby witnesses and speak to them about the incident. Take down their names and contact information so that they may be contacted if necessary.
Even if there are no nearby witnesses, you may still be able to get coverage for the accident if there are nearby surveillance cameras.
Take Photos of the Damage
Before leaving the scene or while waiting for the driver, take photos of the scene. Take photos of any damage as well as the license plate of the other vehicle.
Contact the Police
After gathering data, contact the police if there is damage to your vehicle and you plan to file a claim. The police will take a report and also let you know if there are any cameras in the area. Witnesses may also be more willing to talk to police than to you.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If the other person is at fault for the accident, notify his or her insurance company. If your car was legally parked, then the other driver’s insurance company should cover the cost of damages.
If the other driver’s insurance company does not resolve the issue, contact your own insurer to begin the claims process. Depending on your coverage, your insurance company may cover the damage. But you may have to pay your deductible. Just be aware that your rates may go up.
There’s a chance that the other driver may want to try to resolve the issue without having to go through insurance. What happens if the other driver decides to renege on your agreement? If insurance companies aren’t involved, then you may have little recourse.