Car accidents happen every day. Sometimes you might not even realize you were involved in an accident until after the fact. How is this possible, you may be wondering?
Accidents vary in severity. For example, although you would certainly know if you collided with a car at a high speed, you may not notice if you accidentally scratched a car backing out of a parking spot.
Both incidents are types of car accidents, though one is much more severe than the other. In the event of a minor car accident, you may not realize until later that it even happened. That’s what this article deals with.
Below we delve into the question, “what if I hit a car without knowing?”
Can you hit a car without knowing?
Yes, you can hit another vehicle without knowing. Especially if the accident was minor, it’s possible that you won’t feel anything at the time and only realize later that there’s a scratch on your car.
That said, hitting a car without knowing isn’t as common as you might think. In most instances, you will be aware that you’ve made contact with another car, even in the case of a mild incident.
Several factors can impact one’s ability to recognize they hit another vehicle. For example, the type of vehicle you’re driving, your location, the time of day that the accident happened, and what you were doing at the time of the accident all come into play. If you are driving a large vehicle, such as a passenger van or pickup truck, you may not feel it if you scratched another, much smaller car.
Further, if you were listening to music at the time of the accident, then you may not be able to hear your vehicle hitting the other vehicle. If you were driving at night with reduced visibility, it may also be harder to recognize that you hit a car, especially if you are driving in a busy, urban setting with lots of lights, pedestrians, and other noises.
Overall, while it is possible to hit a car without knowing due to the factors described above, it is rare.
What to do if you hit a car without knowing
If you hit a car, even if you don’t know it initially, chances are there will come a time when you realize what you’ve done. This time usually comes sooner rather than later. Perhaps you feel something off with your car as you drive the next block or someone else (another driver or bystander) informs you that you’ve hit a vehicle.
No matter how you come to the realization that you hit a car, follow the steps below.
If you hit another car, remain calm. Stop your vehicle and take a breath. Check if anyone was injured, and if someone was, call 911 immediately. When possible, move your car to the side of the road, out of the way of traffic, and turn your flashers on.
Do not be responsible for a hit-and-run accident
Whatever you do, do not flee the scene. This is known as a hit-and-run accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offence and if caught, could result in hefty fines, demerit points or a license suspension, and even jail time.
Plus, nowadays the police can use surveillance cameras to identify hit-and-run perpetrators. So no matter how bad the accident, remaining at the scene is the smartest thing you can do.
Report it to the police
As soon as you have a minute to catch your breath, assuming the authorities haven’t already been called, contact the police to inform them about the accident. Depending on the circumstances, reporting the accident to the police may be legally required. It is best to contact the police as soon as possible following the incident, ideally within 24 hours.
Do you have to report a minor accident to the police?
The answer is it depends. If the car accident resulted in bodily injury or property damage in excess of $2,000, then it must be reported to the police.
Before you leave the scene, gather as much evidence as possible by taking photos and videos of your vehicle and any other vehicles involved.
Exchange insurance information
If the driver of the vehicle you hit is present, exchange insurance information with them. Specifically, you should provide your name, license plate number, insurance company name, and insurance company number. You should obtain the same information from them.
Call your insurance provider
Finally, call your insurance provider to notify them of the accident right away. Even if you weren’t able to locate the driver (in the event of hitting a parked car), you should still get in touch with your insurance company.
Hitting a parked car
Please note that the same rules apply whether you hit a moving vehicle or a parked car. Accidents with parked cars happen, but just because the vehicle is stationary and its driver may not be present does not mean you have the right to drive away. Fleeing the scene could have serious consequences and will only make the situation worse.
As a responsible driver, you must do your best to find the owner of the vehicle. If they do not appear to be in the parking lot, simply wait until they return to their car. If you cannot wait, leave a note for the driver.
The note should include your full name, address, phone number, and a brief explanation of what happened. However, if the damage is significant, it’s best to wait for the driver to return to their vehicle.
Will my insurance company raise my rates for hitting a car without knowing?
If you are at fault for the accident, then odds are your insurance premium will go up. However, it depends on the insurance company, the coverage included with your policy, the severity of the accident, and your claims history.
For example, if you purchase accident forgiveness coverage with your policy, then your insurance provider is unable to raise your rates after your first at-fault accident. To learn more about how hitting a car without knowing can affect your insurance rates, contact BrokerLink.
Tips to avoid hitting a car without knowing
Avoid getting into a collision on the road by following the driving tips below.
The slower you drive, the less likely you are to get into a collision. Always drive the speed limit and never rush when accelerating, braking, turning, parking, or changing lines. Slow down even more when driving in poor weather like fog, rain, or snow, at night when visibility is reduced, or through a construction zone, or in an area with lots of pedestrians.
Be aware of your surroundings
Maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times by checking your rear-view and side mirrors regularly. You should always strive to be aware of all vehicles on the road, not just the one in front of you.
Leave ample space
Experts recommend leaving a distance of two car lengths between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. This distance should be even greater when travelling at high speeds or in inclement weather.
Leaving space will give you more room to maneuver your vehicle out of the way of danger. It also allows you to stop suddenly without hitting another vehicle or a pedestrian, reducing your odds of getting into a collision.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Canada. Keep yourself and other drivers safe by focusing on the road and the road only. This means no texting, programming your GPS, eating, drinking, or smoking while behind the wheel.
Contact BrokerLink for more information on what to do if you hit a car without knowing
If you recently hit a car without knowing or are concerned that this might happen to you, contact BrokerLink today. We can always answer any questions you may have about hitting a vehicle without knowing, including hitting a parked car. We can even educate you on the steps to follow should you get into an accident.
You can also read more FAQs about car accidents here.
Of course, as a full-service insurance brokerage, BrokerLink can also help you purchase quality car insurance. When you purchase the right auto insurance policy, you can be financially protected in the event of a collision. Get in touch by phone, email, or in person for more information on car insurance in Canada. Or use our online quote tool to request a free auto insurance quote right now. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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