7 On Your Side: Your parked car has been hit - what do you do?

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- When emergency vehicles like a fire engine or a snow plow sideswipe a parked car, the car owners learn an expensive lesson -- Unless you can prove the other driver used "reckless disregard," you won't get a cent.

In one case, a local ambulance driver admitted fault and promised to pay. However, months later, there was no check to be found.

"She said she swerved to not hit a car in the opposite direction," Newark resident Collin Solomon said.

His wife's car was accidentally struck by the driver, who was operating an ambulance from University Hospital of Newark. The ambulance operator did stop and even rang doorbells until she found the car owner, pointing out she hit the rim and scratched the side bumper.

"She said she's sorry," Solomon said. "She was trying to avoid another vehicle."

In some instances, emergency vehicles like fire trucks, police cars, even snow plows that strike a parked car are exempt from paying for damages to car owners unless they can prove the driver used "reckless disregard."

Solomon said a University Hospital manager assured he would be reimbursed four months ago (the accident happened on June 21) -- with no issue.

He got a police report and a letter from the hospital's insurance company, PMA Companies, within a week, instructing Collin to fill out a claim form and submit it.

Solomon sent in the damage quote and his insurance information, but he said that's the last he heard from anyone.

Working two jobs and raising three kids, Solomon said he was getting roadblocked on a refund for his car damages.

"They giving me the runaround every time I call," he said.

So he mailed us a letter for help, and we called all the hospitals asking for help. In just three days, Solomon said he got a new bumper and parts because he got a reimbursement check for $1,000, the amount of his insurance deductible.

"Thanks so much," Solomon said. "Because of you, I can get my car fixed now."

University Hospital of Newark thanked us for bringing this to their attention, saying it always intends to quickly resolve matters that go through their claim review.

The big takeaway if your car is in an accident:
-First: Look for witnesses and document what they saw, and get their contact info.
-Then: Before moving your car, take pictures. Snap close-up photos of the damage and of the accident scene.
-Next: Try to find surveillance video of the incident, and don't forget to get a police report and notify your insurance company, even if you plan to pursue someone else's insurance for damages.


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