Who is Liable if My Car is Damaged in a Hit and Run in a Public Parking Lot or Garage?

Car accidents can happen anywhere. In a public parking lot, on the slow-moving main drag of a small town, on a congested interstate highway, and even in your own driveway. Not all accidents are catastrophic affairs – many result only in some minor bruising to one of the drivers or cosmetic damage to one of the vehicles. In fact, many small collisions occur when only one driver is present. If your car was hit while it was parked in a public parking garage or lot, you may still seek compensation from the negligent party’s auto insurance provider.

But what if you do not know who hit your car? Although common courtesy and state law states that a driver who hits another vehicle in a parking garage or lot should leave a note on the vehicle’s windshield with his or her contact information, many drivers do not do this, leaving their victims to cover their own car repair expenses.

So what can you do if you come out to your parked vehicle and find that it has been struck by another vehicle? You can try to locate the driver responsible for the damage and hold him or her liable. This may be possible if the parking lot or garage is under video surveillance or if witnesses saw the strike occur. If you are able to determine who hit your car, he or she may use his or her liability coverage to pay for your damages. But if you cannot locate the driver responsible for your vehicle’s damage, you may need to pay for your expenses from your own auto insurance policy.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In South Carolina, you are required to carry both liability and uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage is coverage for any damages caused in a hit and run accident or by a driver who does not have automobile insurance. In South Carolina, motorists are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage equal to their minimum amount of liability coverage.

Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim

If your vehicle is damaged in a hit and run and you decide to file an uninsured motorist claim with your auto insurance provider, you must act quickly. File your report with the insurance provider as soon as you can and provide ample evidence to support your claim. Like with other types of insurance claim, your insurance provider will need to determine that another party was negligent and that because of this negligence, your vehicle suffered damage. The investigation will also determine the monetary value of the damage to your vehicle.

Because of the high potential for fraud with uninsured motorist claims, it is not uncommon for auto insurance providers to investigate these claims very thoroughly. Eyewitness testimonies and photographs showing the location where the collision occurred and the angle from which the offending vehicle came may be key pieces of evidence to support your claim.

Your insurance provider has the duty to investigate and compensate your claim in good faith. This means that your insurance provider must handle your claim with honesty, treat you with respect, and offer a compensation amount that can fairly cover your expenses. Of course, this amount may be increased by negotiating it with help from an experienced lawyer, but if you are offered a monetary figure that is far below an appropriate level of compensation or if you feel you are facing adversity and defensive behavior from your provider, you could have grounds for a bad faith claim. Talk to your lawyer about your experience working with your auto insurance provider to determine if they have acted in good faith or not.

Work With an Experienced Columbia Auto Accident Lawyer

In a car accident, you can suffer injuries as well as your vehicle. If you have been injured in a car accident, consider seeking monetary compensation for your damages, the expenses related to your injury, through a personal injury claim. To learn more about filing and pursuing this type of compensation, speak with a member of our team of experienced car accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm. Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation with a member of our team. We can analyze your case to determine the best way for you to proceed with your claim and answer any questions you have about the personal injury claims process and what you can expect from it.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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