By Jordan W. Charness
Peter was in a hurry. He had just dropped off his wife and older children at the entrance to the theatre, where his youngest daughter was going to be performing in public for the very first time. He was very proud of her even though she didn’t actually have a speaking part. He had promised to be there for her grand entrance and she was in one of the very first scenes in the play.
Unfortunately it was one of those days. Despite their best intentions, Peter and Mary had left the house late, blaming each other for the delay. The fact that the older kids seemed to move like molasses every time they were in a hurry didn’t help either. By the time they got to the theatre the parking lot was full and Peter found himself circling while looking at his watch while looking for a parking place.
He finally found one that seemed to be almost, sort of, kind of legal if he could only squeeze his SUV into that tiny spot. Parallel parking had never been his strong suit but this time he was determined to make it in one shot. Everything went well right up until he heard the tiniest of crashes as he was backing up.
Out he went, shaking his head and muttering to himself that he hoped he didn’t actually cause damage to another car. He first looked at his own car and was relieved to see that there was no evidence of damage. The hood of the car behind him however did seem to have a dent about the size of a fist that looked like it might have been there for a long time or else could have been brand-new.
He debated driving away and just parking in another spot but his conscience got in the way. (That and the fact that he knew there wasn’t another spot for several blocks as he had just spent the last 15 minutes circling.)
With another quick look at his watch he hastily wrote a note that he placed under the windshield wiper of the car that he may have damaged. It went like this:
“I noticed that the hood of your car seems to have a dent in it that could possibly have been there for a long time. It is equally possible that I backed into it and the bumper of my car caused the damage. If indeed that dent was not there when you parked your car please give me a call on my cell phone at 555-1212 and I will take care of it. Sincerely, Peter”
He then ran to the play and made it just in time to see his youngest triumphantly enter stage left.
During intermission, his cell phone vibrated with a telephone number displayed that he didn’t recognize. A voice on the other end congratulated him for his honesty but was positive that the brand-new dent was Peter’s fault. Peter arranged to meet him when the play was over to exchange information.
Although Peter thought that he had done the right thing in this situation, actually he had just barely made it through without being charged with a hit-and-run. If he had left the scene of the accident and parked somewhere else he would have been guilty of the offence of leaving the scene of an accident without reporting the damage. Even though he may have thought that there was no one around, there is always someone watching!
Just leaving a note under the windshield wiper was not sufficient either. According to law if you cause damage and cannot find the owner of the property that you damaged, you must immediately contact the police and file a police report admitting to the damage and giving all of your contact information. While you can and should leave a note on the property you damaged, simply leaving a note without contacting the police will not fulfill your legal obligations.
Anytime you have a one-driver accident, it’s up to you to make sure that either the owner of the property or the police or both know all about it.