Discovering that your car has been hit can bring out feelings of anger and frustration. Realizing that not only has your car been damaged, but that the person who hit it ran without leaving a note, is absolutely infuriating. Whether your car is parked on a city street, in a parking lot or parking garage, or in a residential neighborhood, it is not unreasonable to expect that drivers will operate their vehicles with care, especially around cars that cannot move out of the way. It is difficult to know what to do when a situation like this occurs, and if this is the case, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled Philadelphia car accident attorney to assess your legal options.
Step #1: Call the Police and Look for Witnesses
If, upon approaching your vehicle, you discover that it was hit and there is damage, call the local police to come to the scene. Take pictures of your vehicle as well as the surrounding area. If the driver who hit your car did not leave a note, approach any witnesses or businesses located in the immediate vicinity to see if they have any information. Depending on where your car was parked, you may be able to identify the driver who hit your car by security footage. It is also imperative that you call your insurance company right away and tell them what happened.
Step #2: Contact Insurance and an Attorney
It is important that you contact your insurance company as soon as possible. This holds true whether or not you can locate and identify the driver who hit your car. Pennsylvania requires that motorists purchase two types of insurance:
- Liability insurance
- Medical benefits coverage
Liability insurance is used to cover the costs of medical bills and property damage for the victims of a car accident caused by an at-fault driver. The minimum liability insurance requirements are as follows:
- $5,000 per accident for property damage
- $15,000 per person per accident for medical expenses
- $30,000 total medical coverage per accident
Some insurance carriers also offer a total single limit of $35,000 which meets the entire liability requirement. To help you navigate the complicated insurance procedures after an auto accident, and avoid accidentally harming your ability to recover, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer.
Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” auto insurance state, meaning that if you get into a car accident, you can begin collecting damages from your insurance company regardless of who was at fault. The minimum amount of coverage that motorists in Pennsylvania must have for property damage is $5,000. Motorists are given two options for the right to sue for damages:
- Limited tort
- Full tort
Choosing the limited tort option allows you to sue an at-fault driver for medical costs and out-of-pocket expenses. Limited tort motorists are restricted from suing for pain and suffering and other nonmonetary damages unless the injuries suffered fall under the definition of “serious injury” in the carrier’s policy. The full tort option gives motorists the option of filing lawsuits for all expenses related to injuries from a car accident. This includes medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and nonmonetary damages such as pain and suffering.
The type of damages you will seek to recover depend on the context of your claim. If you were in your parked car when it was hit, you may have medical bills that you wish to be compensated for. If you were not in your car at the time it was hit, your recovery may be limited to property damage.
Car Accident Liability for Parking Lot and Garage Owners
If your car was parked in a private parking lot or parking garage when it was hit, you may be able to hold the owners liable for damages to your vehicle. Based on premises liability, owners can be held liable for injuries that take place on the property they own if it can be proven that they deviated from the standard of care owed to guests. For example, property owners may be held liable for the following conditions, if they cause or contribute to a car accident:
- Poor lighting
- Lack of signs (stop signs, yield signs, etc.)
- Lack of arrows
There are four essential elements that must be shown in order to recover for damages on the basis of premises liability. These elements are that:
- The owner owed a legal duty of care to the victim.
- The owner breached the legal duty of care that was owed.
- The owner’s breach caused the victim to suffer harm.
- The victim suffered damages.
Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
Consulting with an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney is crucial for Pennsylvania accident victims who want to put themselves in the best position for financial recovery. If you have been a victim of a hit and run when your car was parked, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and/or property damage. Contact the Philadelphia hit and run car accident injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm online, or call today at (215) 246-9000 to discuss your potential claim in a free and confidential legal consultation.