Of all damage that can be caused in parking lots, dinging another car with your car door is something that has almost certainly happened - whether you were the ding-er or ding-ee.

Just recently we were sitting in a parking lot, getting ready to go into a store. When I'd pulled in, we weren't next to anyone, but by the time I told the girls to get out, another car had pulled in next to us. The wind caught my five year old's door, and it banged right into the SUV next to us.

Then, we had that awkward moment. The driver was there and saw it happen, and it undeniably happened, so there was no argument. We got out and looked at the noticeable ding, and then we had to figure out what to do. It seemed far too minor for insurance, but there was a mark on her car that we created. Do I offer money? Give her my address to send me a bill? My five year old was crying, and I think the other woman felt so guilty about her reaction that she refused any offers from me and just told her to be more careful and do something nice for someone else that day.

But, now it got me thinking: what SHOULD you do when this happens? Because between kids, wind, and narrow parking spaces in crowded parking lots, it is going to happen.

First of all, if the other driver isn't around, leave a note on the windshield. Dinging a car and taking off, while it happens a lot, is really bad form.

Make an offer to make it right. I had no idea how much to offer, so I just said "can I give you some cash to get it fixed?" Looking online, depending on what kind of car and where you go to get it repaired, it can cost anywhere from the cost of a small jar of touch up paint to a hundred dollars or more. I don't think the woman knew either, and I think she felt awkward giving me an amount. What we should have done was taken a picture and swapped contact information, so she could look into it and I could make a reasonable offer.

Whenever something like this happens, no matter how minor, swapping phone numbers or other contact information is a good idea. Some drivers won't bother with getting things repaired, others are much more particular.

If your car gets hit, remember that, most of the time, it's not intentional. It's easy to get frustrated, but remember, it could very easily be you next time.


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