Nothing can be worse than being involved in an automobile accident, except possibly when the at-fault driver leaves the scene. Most clients are concerned that automobile insurance will not cover a hit and run or phantom vehicle claim. An even worse situation is when a careless driver runs you off the road and never actually collides with your vehicle. These kinds of personal injury claims can be tricky to prove. You can still be successful in bringing these types of claims, with the right advice from a personal injury attorney.
What is a phantom vehicle?
The term “phantom vehicle” is used by insurance companies to refer to a vehicle involved in an accident, where neither the driver nor the vehicle can be identified. That is typically the situation in a hit and run, where the other car drives away from the accident scene before the vehicle could be identified. The term can also apply to a situation where a motorist claims to have been run off the road by another car, which could not be identified.
Insurance companies are not fond of phantom vehicle claims
Theoretically, a hit and run case would be covered by uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, applies to situations where someone is involved in an automobile accident and the person who is at fault, either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance, to fully compensate the injured party. In most states, uninsured motorist laws assume that, when an unidentified motorist causes an accident and flees the scene, that vehicle was uninsured. This is a good thing for consumers, because the accident should be covered under an uninsured motorist insurance policy. However, many insurance companies insist that, when the vehicle is unidentified, some minimum physical contact with the vehicle is required. Their argument is that, without proof of a collision, a driver could simply lose control of their vehicles, and then make a claim for uninsured motorist coverage.
How do you prove a phantom vehicle claim?
Obviously, these types of claims can be very difficult to prove. The results of a recent study show that plaintiffs in phantom vehicle cases are only successful 51% of the time. In other words, you have about a 50-50 chance of being compensated for your injuries and other losses, when you cannot identify the other driver. Not to say that the chances are drastically better when you can identify the other driver. In those cases, the other driver will most likely allege that you were at fault and responsible for his or her damages. Either way, there is a lot to prove.
So, how do you prove your case if the at-fault driver leaves the accident scene without stopping? In those cases, finding witnesses to corroborate your version of the events can be critical. If anyone stops to help you after the accident, make sure you obtain that person’s contact information. You will likely need to get their testimony to prove your claim. However, eyewitnesses are not always available. In that case, you can still be successful, if you remain a credible witness and you can obtain favorable testimony from an accident reconstructionist and other types of investigators.
If you have questions regarding automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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