On swapping a little paint

I accidentally scratched the paint of another car while making a turn in a parking lot. I took a picture of the scratch and their license plate. I was going to report the incident to the local police and my insurance company. However, a friend informed me that I could be charged with fleeing the scene and sued. He recommended I keep the incident to myself. The scratch, although slight, is noticeable on both of our cars. I would have liked to pay for the damages. I don’t know if there were cameras around. I do not like being sneaky. I have been driving for five years and have never had an accident or violation before. What should I do?


The right thing to have done would have been to leave your contact information for the other driver to find, customarily in the form of a quick note tucked under their windshield wiper.

It’s too late for that now, unless you randomly happen to see that same car parked in the same lot again over the next few days. (If you do, your note should just say something like, “Call me about that scratch on your bumper.” Don’t apologize or make offers to pay in writing.)

Do not involve the police or your insurance company over minor accidental scratches. That is a waste of everyone’s time, and it will only cause you more problems.

It’s good that you don’t like being sneaky, but this isn’t you being sneaky. This is you fucking up. It happens. You’re gonna feel like a shithead for a few days, but that’s what you get, and now you’ve learned your lesson.


5 thoughts on “On swapping a little paint

  1. Jessica says:

    This isn’t relevant to the question but, everyone’s drawing up similarities between you and The Countess and I wanted to pitch in:
    “All she’d done was look at that producer and he turned tail and run. Now she was looking at me, but I didn’t feel like running. She was this rarefied timeless creature who knew everything about art, literature, fashion; this was the world I wanted to live in and she promised I could, forever. It was glorious. She taught me how to be a lady and a bad ass, there was nothing I couldn’t be. Except hers, forever.” Ramona on The Countess a.k.a you (AHS)

  2. Cathryn says:

    I had a coworker last year who drunkenly crashed into someone’s car parked in front of a sister restaurant two doors down from where we worked, drove off, apparently realized he messed up, and then returned to the restaurant we worked at. What would have been a double felony resulted in nothing because he *technically* didn’t flee the scene since he returned to the sister property basically right next door, didn’t make any attempt to run away from the police when they arrived, AND no one saw him drunkenly get out of his car so they couldn’t prove that he had been drinking when he hit the car. (Everyone knew he’d been drunk, even the cop, but theoretically he could’ve gotten drunk after he got out of the car since no one saw him stumble out. At least, no one admitted to seeing him get out of his car. He was drunk because one of his fellow gang member buddies had been killed in a gang shootout the night before. There are also very probable rumors that my coworker had served time for murder, so no one was going to say anything against him. Welcome to Nashville.) I don’t know if this anecdote applies to you since you left the scene for an extended amount of time, but it’s worth further investigating the legality of the situation.

    I’d also say that most people would be fairly reasonable if it’s just a relatively minor scratch. (What kind of car was it and what kind of condition was it in?) I don’t know what kind of person would sue someone for trying to fix their mistake. But, I tend to expect the best out of people, so take that with a grain of salt.

  3. Jenna says:

    A note, as above, is the accepted etiquette (in Southern California at least)for a scratch or small ding in a parking lot. Some people will be just happy that you acknowledged it happening, but, won’t care enough to take it further. My jeep has scratches. It’s a ’99 and it is my well loved transportation, not a showpiece. I am not going to cry over a scratch, though I’m going to cry when it dies, hopefully many years in the future.
    Other people will be upset over a tiny scratch, but, those are usually the folks with the spotless leased sedans, or the cars with the obviously expensive paint jobs that I won’t even park next to.
    If you actually crash into the parked car, though, most people will expect you to take the damn time to find the owner before you leave. If you damage it severely enough that their boss/coworkers/spouse/parents will be asking for an explanation, then be responsible enough to hang around and talk to the other driver, hm?
    But, definitely, the first contact is with the other driver, because it’s better to find out what their situation is.

  4. JC says:

    Another thought would be to post a note at the store in case someone went in asking for security video, or post a CL missed connection. Just say that you went to get a pen to leave your info and that the other person had left before you returned.

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