How to be Helpful When You Witness Damage to a Parked Car

When you witness a hit-and-run accident involving a parked car, you can help. All it takes is a pen and paper and a few minutes of your time.

Mary Kurz
How to be Helpful When You Witness Damage to a Parked Car

If you witness a collision that causes damage to a parked car, it’s important to do the right thing. The driver who does the damage should stop and leave his or her contact information but if he or she simply drives away, the person with the damaged car has virtually no recourse. He or she will have to foot the bill, unless the damage is covered by comprehensive car insurance coverage.

You might ask yourself: why bother? It’s not my problem. But you’ll feel better about yourself for having done the right thing and, you never know, one day you may walk over to your car to find that it has been damaged in the same way - we guarantee you’d be relieved that someone else did the right thing for you. In this article, Part 1 explains how to leave a note for the driver of the damaged car and Part 2 describes how to keep notes for your own record.

Part 1 of 2: Leave a note on the damaged car

Materials Needed

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Plastic baggie (in inclement weather)

Don’t do anything until you are sure the hit-and-run driver isn’t going to. Then, after the driver is gone, step up and do the right thing.

Step 1: Write down your name and contact information. Your first name and phone number are enough, if you feel uncomfortable leaving your full name.

Step 2: Write a brief explanation of why you are leaving the note. Let the owner of the damaged car know that you witnessed the collision, have pertinent information and are willing to help.

Step 3: Tuck the note under the windshield wiper on the damaged car. Make sure it is secure so that it doesn’t blow away before the driver finds it.

Put the note in a plastic baggie and seal it if there is any chance of inclement weather. The note won’t do anyone any good if it gets wet and the driver can’t read what you wrote.

Part 2 of 2: Make a record for yourself of what you witnessed

Materials Needed

  • Pen
  • Paper

Write the information down right away. Do it before you even leave the scene, if you can. According to psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, human memory is prone to misremembering details. If the driver of the damaged car follows up with any questions, you’ll want to be clear and succinct when you recount what happened.

Step 1: Write down as much information as possible about the hit and run vehicle. List the make, model and color of the car. Get the license plate number, too, if you can. Any details about the car that you notice can be helpful.

Step 2: Write down as much information about the driver as you can. If you can tell if the driver was a man or woman, approximate age and even if he or she was alone in the car can help.

Step 3: Write down the date and time of the accident. These are very important details. If the driver of the damaged car pursues the matter, knowing the exact date and time of the accident will help the police utilize any traffic cameras in the area.

The driver of the damaged car might not return for hours or even days. He or she might have no other way of knowing when the damage occurred.

Step 4: Write down what you saw happen. Every detail can help. If the driver hesitated or even seemed to notice that he or she inflicted damage, seemed to be driving erratically, was moving or parked, was driving too fast or seemed to be distracted by something in the car.

Step 5: Put the note in your purse, wallet or other safe place. Keep it handy so that you will be prepared when the owner of the damaged car calls.

Make sure you have the right car insurance so that, if this happens to you, the damages will be covered. The right insurance makes sure you stay covered when you leave your car in another parking lot and risk becoming the victim of a hit-and-run accident.