So you go to the parking lot and approach your car. You see a great big dent along with scratches on your body panel. You become furious! No problem. If you happen to suspect a certain vehicle that might have done this, and the car is parked right next to you, here are a few steps to determine whether or not the adjacent vehicle is the culprit:

1. First of all, you must suspect a vehicle first. If you don't know which car might have hit yours, then all is lost and bear the cost yourself with your insurance company.

2. Determine how your car might have been hit. It's pretty simple to find out by looking at the size of the dent, and the way your car is dented. The direction of the surface scratches also determines the direction of impact. It also marks the height of the contact.

3. Check to see if the colour of your scratch is the same as the bumper paint. (Of course assuming it was a bumper contact.) If the scratches are black but the body is not, some bumpers have rubber strips that may look like it's black paint.

4. Look for scratches (on their car) on the most likely point of contact with your car. It should usually be the corner of the bumpers. If they have your paint on their bumper, it is obvious that it is the car that hit you.

5. To further confirm this, measure the height of the their offending bumper (front or rear) from floor to bumper (or contact point) and compare that with the height of your own scratch. If they match, then it's possible you have the culprit. If they do not, then there's no case.

6. There is no case even if scratches do not show up on the other person's car. (At least I don't think so. But check with your insurance broker to make sure.) I personally wouldn't bother with a witch-hunt even though it might save me $250.00. At this point, you're still at a loss.

7. If, however, you find the culprit and everything matches, and you've collected evidence, then write the licence plate number down, the make and model of the offending car and report to your insurance broker. He/she will tell you what to do.

This is just one of the (low tech) ways you can determine who hit your car. Other ways? Ask everyone in the area, post a note everywhere, surveillance cameras, paint-composition matching..etc.

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