Was it a hit and run, and do I report it?
May 24, 2011 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Worth reporting a hit and run? Someone backed into my legally parked car even though they had a TON of room. i jumped out of the car but they ignored me and drove slowly away.

Someone just backed into my car. I had just parallel parked on a residential street behind another car. I was sitting in the driver's seat and fumbling with my wallet when I felt the car shake. The car in front of me kind of thudded into mine again, then lurched off. I jumped out and waved but they drove slowly off. I'm guessing they didn't even realize they hit me. I got the license plate number and the color of the car, but didn't think to look at the make/model until they were down the street.

I took pictures of my car and the scene. My front bumper is a bit dinged but I can't tell if there are new dings resulting from this. I think they just pushed my car back a bit via my front license plate. I'm guessing it was illegal for them to just drive off in any case, and they seem like incompetent drivers--they had a huge amount of room in front of them.

I might have had a witness, a woman getting into a car across the street, but I didn't ask if she saw anything. I know this is dumb, but I was thinking I should just let it go.

This is in California.
posted by ziggly to Law & Government (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So you can't tell if either your car was damaged nor if the person could even tell if they hit you? Seriously, you're asking if you should report an incident where you can't tell if your car was damaged at all.

Why are you calling this a 'hit and run'? It was a very minor parking issue/nothing. Forget all about it.
posted by Brockles at 7:10 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

How much of a dick do you feel like being? I'm not being flippant. Unless you have a concourse-ready classic, let it go. Hell, you even said you can't say for sure that there's new damage.
posted by notsnot at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2011

I'm guessing they didn't even realize they hit me.

I'm guessing they didn't realize someone was in the car that they hit.

I tap bumpers of cars all the time when I'm parallel parking. I always get out and make sure I didn't do any damage. (Never have, for the record, as they are at incredibly slow speeds in very tight spaces, but anyway...) In my opinion, people who don't have the common courtesy to pay attention to the things that they hit with their car are bad drivers. This person is a bad driver. I think you are well within your rights to report them, and personally would not think that you were dumb for doing so. But if you're leaning toward letting it go, that's perfectly fine, too (and the nicer, less dickish thing to do). It's up to you.
posted by phunniemee at 7:13 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

How much of a dick do you feel like being?

It's more than okay to be a dick in response to the dickery involved in carelessly backing into someone else's car and then driving off illegally.

That said, I'd let this one slide.
posted by matlock expressway at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

One time I backed into a guy in Chicago when he was getting out of his car. I sort of freaked out (this was when I was getting my parking permit, I had moved there a week earlier).

He looked at his bumper for 2 seconds, then looked at me and said "no problem man".

I love Chicago. Don't worry about it.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:42 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some people consider touching bumpers a very normal part of parallel parking (and getting out of a parallel spot). When I moved to Chicago a real estate agent told me point-blank that I was going to get scratches on my bumper from others parking and from my parking once I learned to do it right, and that's just how things worked. And I know that any contact in my car, no matter how light, feels like a pretty tremendous event to me.

So it was a bad move that they tapped your occupied car. And when you got out and they drove off, that was rude. But it's likely that the driver felt they had done nothing wrong. They had just executed a correct maneuver in their mind.

I'd go with your gut and let it slide since there's no clear damage.
posted by Tehhund at 7:47 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

In all places, ESPECIALLY California, I have learned that bumping a bumper is totally normal when backing out of or into a spot. Throw away the license plate number in a trash can and chalk it up to karma when you accidentally bump into someone's bumper later.
posted by banannafish at 8:09 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It was crappy of them, but as long as there is no damage I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure the person knew they hit you, but just didn't think anyone was in the car. We've all done it - I've heard it called "parking by braille."
posted by radioamy at 8:14 PM on May 24, 2011

he should have gotten out to check on you and if there was any damage, so yeah that was rude. but i'm also of the belief that bumpers are called bumpers for a reason. there was no damage to your car. let it go.
posted by violetk at 8:16 PM on May 24, 2011

Let it go. Yes they were an ass but getting your bumper scratched, dinged and scraped are par for the course when owning a car. They are called "bumpers" after all.

You could be a dick though, and make something out of nothing, and it will end up taking way too much energy in your life to gain nothing.

Outside of that there is no proof of anything. I know a person that, like a dipshit, left their kids in a car while they ran into a Target/Walmart to shop. Somebody called the cops but they didn't get there in time so they ended up stopping by their house later to give them a talk, but they basically got the door shut in their face since there was no proof. And that was a bit more serious than a hit and run.
posted by zombieApoc at 8:19 PM on May 24, 2011

I'd report it, but mostly out of sheer hostility for people who can't parallel-park without running into the adjacent cars.

But you should get your story straight before you report it -- either there's damage to your car or there isn't. Don't be all wishy-washy.

One hint: go and get your car washed; it may make cracks and other damage more obvious. I decided not to pursue anything with someone who rear-ended me once, thinking there wasn't any damage ... unfortunately the car was filthy at the time, and the filth was covering up the fact that the bumper had a huge spiderweb crack in it. I'm still sorta kicking myself over that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:24 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank your lucky stars you don't live in Spain where people often park in tight city spaces by rolling their car backwards and forwards, bumping back the cars parked at either end, to make room for themselves. Damage to your car is a bit like having an orgasm, if you can't tell whether it's happened or not, then it hasn't.
posted by joannemullen at 8:33 PM on May 24, 2011

If there's no damage, why is this a problem? I was in a similar situation, but with the roles reversed. It was at an intersection, I was stopped, turning right onto a street, with another car in front of me, also turning right. My attention was diverted for a second while I thought the car moving forward, but in reality he was still stopped. My car was idling forward in gear, and I banged into his front bumper. Maybe I was going 3 or 4 mph.

So he looks in his rear view mirror at me, sort of quizzically, and I gesture over to the gas station a bit down the road. We both pull in and I'm thinking shit, this may be one of those people who fake whiplash for some insurance cash. So I get out of the car and ask the guy, also getting out of the car, "Are you ok?" and he says "yeah" and we check his bumper: nothing. There were some scratches, but it's obvious that they were there long before this incident, and in any event the scratches are very minor anyway, on a black rubber bumper. I check my bumper, same story, nothing.

So there's this pregnant pause, and I'm thinking he's not hurt and there's no damage, so...now what? And the guy is obviously thinking the same thing. And for about 5 full seconds we just kind of stand there. And I say "I'm really sorry about that" or something of the like and "you sure you're ok?". And I get in my car and leave. The guy was still standing there, and looked like he wanted to stop me, but realized he had no real reason to.

Anyway, I never heard from the cops, so obviously he didn't press it. If you don't have any damage, I can't imagine why you'd want to do anything.
posted by zardoz at 8:42 PM on May 24, 2011

Think about how you'll feel in a month. If you don't bother to report it, you probably won't care that you didn't a month from now. Whereas if you do report it, then you will need to revisit the issue at least several more times. I've decided that despite a feeling for a need of "justice," there are times like this where it's not worth the effort.
posted by thorny at 10:27 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is what bumpers are for. Happens to my car way more often than I would like. Just let it go.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:02 PM on May 24, 2011

IF there is no noticable damage then i wouldnt say anything. If you have to get a new bumper because of it then yes report it.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:36 AM on May 25, 2011

I'd let it go just to avoid the personal hassle. It is very unlikely to do any good (they can just deny it and no sanction of them is likely to occur given the lack of evidence, so there isn't much of an argument for future deterrence, which is about the only benefit of reporting I can see). There's nothing for you personally to gain and it could eat your time.
posted by nanojath at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: Sounds like you have a vastly different expectation of car to car contact where you guys live. My opinion is that if you can't parallel park you have no business trying to. I have never hit another car while parking, and if this happened to me I would be calling in a hit and run immediately.

FYI, bumpers are there to protect safety systems and to be replacable in the case of a low-speed accident. They are not there to play bumper cars with.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 2:49 PM on May 26, 2011

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