hit and run involving a blue parked car on a city street.

What To Do If You Hit A Parked Car

February 27, 2024

While it’s not ideal, accidentally hitting a parked car can happen to the best of us. Whether it’s a momentary lapse of attention or misjudging a space while parking, it’s a situation that requires handling with care and responsibility. In the UK, there are specific steps you should follow to ensure the matter is resolved legally and ethically - but what comes first? Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to do if you find yourself in this predicament.

You’ve Hit a Parked Car- What Next?

First of all, don’t panic. Do your best to simply assess the situation by checking for any damage to both the parked car and your own car, and make sure that if there are any passengers in your vehicle, they’re also unharmed. Safety should always be your immediate concern.

Legal Requirements

In the UK, the Road Traffic Act requires you to stop if you’ve been involved in an incident that causes damage or injury - and this includes hitting parked cars. Failing to stop can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, points on your licence, or even imprisonment, so you’ll want to pull over and try to find the driver.

Exchanging Information

If the owner of the parked car is nearby, try to communicate with them calmly - but don’t admit fault right away. Exchange names, addresses, contact numbers, and insurance details, and try to remain as friendly and calm as possible. If the owner of the car isn’t anywhere to be found, you’re legally obligated to leave your details in a secure and visible place on the vehicle - this can be behind the windshield, or on the car handle.

Reporting the Incident

You must report the accident to the police within 24 hours if you haven’t exchanged details with the car owner; this step is crucial, as it provides an official record of the incident, which may be necessary for insurance claims or if there’s a dispute about the event.

Documenting the Scene

rear of a red VW Golf car damaged in a collision

If you can, take photographs of the parked car’s position, the damage, and any relevant road signs or markings. This documentation can be invaluable later on, especially when it comes to establishing fault - for example, you might find out that the car was parked in an unauthorised space or blocking the road for active drivers, and this can rule in your favour further down the line.

Contacting Your Insurance Provider

It’s also a good idea to notify your insurance provider about the incident as soon as possible - they’ll guide you through the process of making a claim, if necessary. Remember, even if you decide to settle the damages privately, informing your insurer is important to comply with the terms of your policy. If you’re not at fault, your insurer will also usually be able to connect you with non fault accident experts who can provide specialised, custom advice for your situation.

Repair and Compensation

While it’s not something we advise, you may choose to arrange compensation for the damage to the parked car directly with the owner. As you can imagine, this comes with its own risks; the driver could overcharge you, or even ask you for money to cover for damage that wasn’t incurred during the incident. Generally speaking, it’s a better idea to involve your insurance company; this ensures that all repairs are properly documented and carried out to a satisfactory standard.

The Bottom Line

While hitting a parked car is certainly an unwelcome event, in most cases it’s not the end of the world. It’s important to remember that accidents happen, and how you deal with them can significantly impact their resolution. Stay calm, be honest, and take the necessary steps to ensure everything is resolved smoothly and legally.


What should I do if I hit a parked car but there’s no damage?

Even if there appears to be no damage, you should still leave your contact details for the car owner; this isn’t only the responsible action but also a legal requirement to ensure transparency and avoid potential complications.

Can I just leave a note if I hit a parked car and the owner isn't around?

Yes, leaving a note is the best course of action if you can’t find the owner. Make sure to check that the note is secure and visible, including your contact details and a brief explanation of the incident. You always have the option of waiting for the driver to return, but this can naturally be inconvenient.

Will my insurance cover the damage if I hit a parked car?

In most cases, your insurance should cover the damage to the parked car if you have comprehensive coverage. However, the specifics depend on your insurance policy, and you may be liable for any excess.

Do I need to report hitting a parked car to the police?

Yes, if you cannot locate the car's owner, you are required to report the accident to the police within 24 hours to avoid potential legal consequences.