What Happens If You Hit a Car That’s Illegally Parked?

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All drivers have various responsibilities they must meet when it comes to proper use of their vehicles. Drivers have a duty of care to avoid hitting parked vehicles and to anticipate the actions of other nearby drivers to keep the flow of traffic moving safely. Drivers also have a duty of care to park their cars legally to avoid creating obstructions for other drivers. When a driver hits an illegally parked vehicle, both the driver and the owner of the illegally parked vehicle are negligent and therefore share blame for the incident. However, the exact circumstances of such an accident could prevent liability from falling equally between the two parties.

Who is Liable After an Accident With an Illegally Parked Car?

In any situation involving an accident with a parked vehicle, both parties will absorb some measure of liability for the accident. If the owner of the illegally parked vehicle left it in an area that was readily visible and avoidable to the other driver, the other driver could potentially absorb more liability than the driver who left the car illegally parked. On the other hand, if the owner of the illegally parked vehicle left it somewhere unusual, around a sharp turn, or in any other location that would be difficult for the other driver to avoid hitting it, the owner of the illegally parked vehicle will likely absorb more liability.

Comparative Fault in Florida

Florida follows a pure comparative fault law. Unlike states that follow contributory negligence laws, Florida’s comparative fault rule does not prevent a driver from securing compensation for an accident in which he or she is partially at fault. In modified comparative fault states, a plaintiff partially at fault for claimed damages will lose a percentage of the settlement or case award equal to his or her percentage of fault for causing the accident.

Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence law, a plaintiff may recover damages no matter how severe his or her fault for causing the claimed damages is, even as much as 99%. The plaintiff still loses a percentage of the case value equal to his or her fault percentage, but state law does not bar recovery past any particular degree of fault.

Damages With Comparative Fault

If you file a personal injury claim against another party, you can claim compensation for all damages resulting from the other party’s actions detailed in your claim. For example, if another driver left a vehicle parked illegally in a dangerous location that was impossible for you to avoid, you will likely only absorb less fault than the owner of the illegally parked vehicle will. The jury reviewing your claim will assign a fault percentage to each party. If your claim’s value was $20,000 and you incur 10% of fault for the accident, you would lose $2,000 of the claim value to reflect your fault for the accident.

Ultimately, a driver who hits a parked car, illegally parked or not, should expect to absorb more fault for the accident than the owner of the illegally parked vehicle. Every driver has an expectation and a duty of care to avoid hitting other vehicles. If another driver left a vehicle poorly or illegally parked, this typically does not constitute more fault for the accident than the driver who is actually present and physically able to prevent the accident. If another driver hit your vehicle while parked you should report the issue immediately. Ideally, the other driver will remain at the scene to exchange information with you or at least leave a note about the accident. Failure to report an accident as required by law could lead to criminal charges for hit-and-run. If you hit an illegally parked vehicle, you should err on the side of caution and report the incident to the police and file an insurance claim with the appropriate carrier.