What Happens If You Hit a Car That Is Illegally Parked?
Hitting another vehicle, no matter the circumstance, will constitute negligence if a reasonable and prudent driver would have been able to avoid the collision. If someone parked the vehicle you struck illegally, however, the other driver may at least share responsibility for the accident. This could lessen the burden of financial responsibility on your part. California’s comparative fault laws will come into play in these situations.
What Is the Comparative Fault Law?
Most states have some version of the comparative fault, or comparative negligence, law in place. While a few states abide by strict contributory negligence laws, in which any degree of plaintiff’s negligence will bar that person from recovery, most are more flexible. California is a pure comparative fault state. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing stance on liability, California allows the courts to allocate percentages of fault to multiple parties, as the court deems equitable according to the circumstances of the accident.
California’s fault law states that each individual is responsible for the results of his or her negligent or willful acts, including anyone else’s injuries. If the person filing the accident claim was partially responsible – such as for parking a car illegally – the courts will analyze the case and assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the claim. Speak to a car accident attorney to get more help regarding a possible injury claim.
California is a pure comparative fault state. This means even if a plaintiff is 99% at fault for a car accident, he or she could still recover some compensation. The courts will simply reduce the plaintiff’s award by an amount equivalent to the individual’s percentage of fault.
For example, if the courts determined that you were 25% at fault for striking the parked car, but that the other driver was 75% at fault for parking illegally, you would receive 75% of a compensation award (100% minus your 25% fault). In this example, you would receive about $75,000 of a $100,000 compensation award. Maximizing your recovery amount during a case in which you struck an illegally parked vehicle, therefore, takes minimizing your personal responsibility for the collision.
How to Handle This Type of Claim
If you hit an illegally parked vehicle in California, remain at the scene and try to find the owner of the vehicle. If you make a reasonable effort but cannot find the owner, the law obligates you to leave a note in a conspicuous location for the other driver. The note must include your name, contact information, and insurance information.
California is a fault-based car accident state. The person most at fault for the accident will be responsible for paying everyone’s damages. Since fault is difficult to determine when someone hits an illegally parked vehicle that has been abandoned, you may want to call the police to conduct an investigation. The police can arrive, take photographs, talk to eyewitnesses, and help you determine which party was most at fault. You must report a crash to the police in San Diego if it caused any injuries or more than $1,000 in property damages.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Since it is likely you will both carry some degree of fault, you may also go directly to calling your car insurance company. Report the accident, but do not admit fault. Explain that someone parked the vehicle you struck illegally. Take photographs and gather as much evidence as you can from the scene of the collision. Wait for the insurance company to conduct its own investigation and determine fault.
If your insurance company refuses to pay for your damages, consult with a car accident lawyer near you. Although hitting a parked car typically does not cause serious injuries, a lawyer may be able to help you negotiate a fairer settlement for property damage repairs with your or the other party’s insurer. If your case ends up going to court with debates as to fault and responsibility, your attorney can represent your best interests before a judge or jury. Hiring a personal injury attorney can give you peace of mind during the claims process.