What Can I Do If Someone Scratches My Car While Parked?

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Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes

If you return to your vehicle to learn that it has been scratched, it can be a stressful and upsetting time. When you realize there is damage, you need to stay on the scene and make sure an accident report is completed. Use your smartphone to take pictures of your scratched car in its parking space. These photos can be helpful to the police investigation as well as the insurance company investigation.

Check for any witnesses to the incident. Sometimes an employee of a business nearby, or someone else in the parking lot might notice an accident. Ask any witnesses to provide written statements for the accident report and include their name along with contact details.

You will need to take your vehicle to a qualified auto body shop to have a written estimate prepared for the cost of fixing the car scrapes and scratches. If your car was scraped while it was parked in a parking garage or a pay parking lot, security personnel might be able to help, or it might have been caught on video camera, which will help police track down the driver who scratched your car.

How Your Car May Get Scratched

If you return to your parked car and find that it was scratched in the parking lot and its paint job is thereby damaged, you will be upset. There are many ways that someone could scratch your vehicle. They could hit it with a shopping cart, slam a car door against it, scrape it with a key, or hit it with something they were loading in their car. As an example, if you parked your car at a home improvement store, it could be scraped with a piece of lumber or hit by a machine being loaded up next to your vehicle.

While some scratches are easy fixes and buff right out, you aren’t always that lucky. You may have to take your vehicle in to a paint shop or auto body repair facility to have the scratch repaired.

These repairs could add up quickly depending on your vehicle's make and model and the size of the scratch. While some scratches may cost a couple of hundred dollars to fix, larger and more severe scratches could cost much more.

You will likely need to repair the car scrapes damage because (1) it is unattractive, and (2) not repairing the car scratch damages can lead to more body issues with your vehicle later in the future. As such, it is imperative that you start gathering evidence right away (i.e., at the scene of your freshly scratched parked car), and you will need to do an investigation into the incident yourself and try to gather supporting evidence and documentation for your claim. Here are some details regarding what you should do should you find yourself facing such a situation.

Should I Call The Police If Someone Scratches My Parked Car?

A scratch might not qualify as “serious” damage when compared to the damage a vehicle could sustain in a collision. Regardless, if you’re wondering what to do if someone scratches your parked car and drives off, be aware that calling the police may be an option to consider.

Reasons you may contact the police after someone scratched your car while parked and then left the scene include the following:

  • The damage is significant: Many states require that individuals report car accidents when they result in a property damage equal to a certain amount of money. What that amount is can vary from one state to another. In addition, it may be difficult to guess how much it will cost to repair a scratch just by looking at it. Thus, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and call the police if the damage looks reasonably widespread and/or deep.
  • You suspect vandalism: Some people scratch parked vehicles accidentally. It’s possible someone scratched your vehicle while pulling out of or into a spot. However, you might wish to call the cops if you suspect this may have been a case of vandalism.
  • You plan to file an insurance claim: Insurance companies are often more cooperative when claimants provide relevant documentation and evidence with their claims. If you call the police to investigate when your vehicle has been scratched, you could use the police report to strengthen your claim.

It’s understandable if you’re reluctant to report a scratched car to the police. That said, these points indicate there are several good reasons to do so.

What Can I Do If Someone Scratches My Car While Parked?

What To Do If You Don’t Know How Your Car Got Scratched

If you return to your car and there isn’t anyone waiting and/or they did not leave a note about your vehicle scratch, you may be wondering what to do. The good news is that you may still be able to track down the culprit.

This is because many stores and businesses have surveillance cameras in the parking lot. One of these cameras could have caught the entire incident on video. That video footage can help track down the liable party and get your car damages covered.

If your car was scratched in the parking lot and the liable driver left the scene, you should ask around the parking lot and at nearby businesses or homes to see if anyone may have witnessed the incident. If you can track down witnesses, be sure to ask them to provide written statements regarding what happened, how it happened, and who did it. They should at least be able to provide a description of the person who did the damage. They may even have a description of that person’s vehicle or a partial tag number. You should also ask any witnesses you find at the scene for their contact information in case you need to get in touch with them down the road.

Even if you never figure out what happened, you will want to file a claim with your auto insurer. This claim would fall under your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. While your insurance may argue with you and claim that you were responsible for the damages yourself and it falls under your collision coverage, you should be able to provide enough evidence to show that the damages were the direct result of someone else while your vehicle was parked in the parking lot.

Statements from people who were aware of your vehicle’s condition, or photos of your vehicle before the incident could be used to help show that the damage occurred while it was parked. Also, if you had passengers with you, they will be able to back up your claim. People who parked near you, or who are familiar with your situation could also provide supporting statements.

Evidence, such as video footage and witness statements, are always beneficial. The more evidence that you can gather, the better off you will be throughout the claims process. Video footage, photographs, and even a damage repair estimate could be helpful. Also, calling the police and filing an accident report can be a strong foundation for your claim.

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Repairing The Damages

If you are having difficulty resolving the matter with the insurance, you should strongly consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer often serves as an invaluable resource to people in these types of situations as they can work with you and help ensure you get the compensation you deserve to pay for the damages. You shouldn’t be left paying for the damages out of pocket when they should be covered by auto insurance.

You will likely want to have any scratches repaired or your car may rust, which can be very damaging. Don’t delay taking care of the problem. If you aren’t sure about how to proceed with your case after your car has suffered scratches while it was parked, you should talk with an accident injury lawyer who handles such cases in your area. An accident injury lawyer will also investigate the case, review the evidence as well as help you gather more evidence, and then determine how you should proceed.

Contacting the Insurance Company

After you have learned that your car was scratched in a parking lot while parked, you will need to file a claim with your auto insurance carrier if you want to get your vehicle repaired. To file a claim, you will need to have comprehensive insurance coverage. Comprehensive coverage will cover all kinds of damage, including those caused by hit and run drivers.

Your insurance company will need a copy of the accident report, copies of the photos that show where your vehicle was parked, as well as photos that show the damages your vehicle suffered up close. You will also need to provide them with a copy of the estimate for repairing your vehicle.

You will need to check your auto insurance deductible for handling a comprehensive claim. Compare that deductible to the cost of fixing your scratched vehicle. If the damages are going to cost $500 to repair, but the deductible is $1,000, you will not be paying for the repairs out of pocket anyway, so there is no need to file a claim with your insurance company.

Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

Your property damages should be covered after someone scratches your car while parked. If you are having trouble with the insurance company, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. Since personal injury lawyers work on what is called a contingency basis, they do not want any cash from you upfront. This means that you will not have to pay a personal injury lawyer upfront and out of pocket in order for them to start helping you. So, when do personal injury attorneys get paid? Personal injury lawyers get paid after you receive compensation for your damages through a judgment or a settlement.

Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to get connected and speak with a local personal injury lawyer who can help you today by reviewing your case and determining the best way for you to proceed with your claim. It’s important to note that a statute of limitations does apply to claims like this—meaning that you need to ensure your claim is filed before the statute of limitations deadline. Get your claim on the right track today, so you can get your vehicle repaired if someone scratches your car while it is parked.

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