What Happens If You Hit a Car That Is Illegally Parked?

Striking a parked car is almost always the fault of the person driving…unless the other vehicle is illegally parked. In cases involving illegally parked cars, both drivers could be at fault: one for violating the parking rules and the other for negligently hitting a parked vehicle. Cases involving shared fault use specific laws in California. Learn what to do after hitting an illegally parked car to better protect your legal rights.

Stop and Leave Your Information

It is your legal duty as a driver to stop at the scene of an accident involving your vehicle. Stop as close to the scene of the collision as possible. Get out of your vehicle and find out if anyone has injuries. Call 911 if you see any injuries or property damage that appears to exceed $750 in value. Wait for the police to arrive. The police will gather details including your name and insurance information to deliver to the driver of the parked vehicle.

If your collision is not serious enough to require reporting it to the police, you must still stop at the scene and leave your information. Do your best to find the owner of the parked car. If you cannot do so within a reasonable amount of time, leave a note on the driver’s vehicle – somewhere conspicuous, where it will not blow away. Leave your full name, phone number and insurance information on the note.

Call the Police for an Official Investigation

It could be in your best interest to call the police even if the accident is minor if you believe the other driver should share fault for illegally parking his or her vehicle. The police can ticket the driver for breaking the city’s parking regulations and investigate the crash. They may be able to gather evidence to help you prove the other driver’s partial fault, such as photographs of a no parking sign or the driver’s tires in the red. Obtaining an official police report could help you convince an insurance company of the other driver’s fault during your claim.

Learn California’s Comparative Fault Law

Even if the other driver parked illegally, you will be at least partially responsible for striking a parked car. It is your responsibility to keep a proper lookout at all times while operating a motor vehicle. This includes checking your blind spots before backing out of a parking spot or turning into a lot. If you were speeding, distracted, going the wrong way or otherwise behaving negligently behind the wheel at the time of the collision, you could be at fault for the accident.

In California, you do not have to prove the other driver was 100% at fault to qualify for compensation. The state’s pure comparative negligence laws state a victim’s partial fault will not bar him or her from financial recovery. You could be 99% at fault for the accident and still be eligible for some financial compensation.

In an accident involving an illegally parked car, the courts would most likely find both parties somewhat responsible. The courts may assign you a percentage of fault based on the facts of the case. Then, they would reduce your compensation award in proportion to your fault. The smaller your percentage of fault, the larger your recovery award could be.

Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement

Do not admit fault for striking an illegally parked car. Your case could involve comparative negligence. Wait for an official investigation. Then, file your claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, hire an attorney to help you take your case to trial. A car accident trial could result in payment for your property damages and any personal injuries if the court assigns some fault to the parked driver. The best way to maximize your recovery after striking an illegally parked car is to retain a car accident lawyer in Sacramento.