What is a Phantom Driver?
In some car accidents, you don’t even touch the other driver. However, if you were forced to swerve to avoid them or other similar situations, you may have the right to receive compensation for any damage and injuries caused to you or your car due to their actions by filing a personal injury claim.
That being said, filing a claim is difficult and often requires the help of a personal injury attorney. If you are planning on filing a personal injury claim for a no-contact car accident, make sure you seek the advice of an attorney. If you don't, you may hurt your chances of getting compensation.
In order to file a personal injury claim, you or your attorney will need to prove that the other driver was at fault because he or she was negligent.
Part of the issue with no-contact accidents is that if the other driver did not stop, you may not have gotten their license plate or other identifying information. Similar to a hit-and-run, you can’t file a claim against them without that information; you'll need to file with your own insurance company.
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The other party in a no-contact accident is called a phantom driver. Most insurance policies have uninsured motorist coverage, which is a policy that allows an insurance holder to claim money from their own insurance if the negligent party at fault for the accident is uninsured, underinsured, or phantom.
Dealing with Your Insurance Company
In many cases, even if you know who the driver was, your insurance company would still be responsible for paying because there was no contact. However, you only receive payment from your own insurance company if you have collision insurance, which isn’t required.
Some states and insurance companies deem phantom driver car accidents or 'miss-and-runs' as single car accidents, where you would always be at fault. Therefore, you could be charged with an at-fault claim if you file for damages. As a victim without legal representation, this could leave you in a bit of a bind.
The Importance of Witnesses
Witnesses are very important in these types of accidents, because there is no other driver to tell his or her side of the story. Without them, you have little to no chance of your claim being approved by your insurance company.
A witness can be another person that was in the car with you, but the best witnesses are passing cars or pedestrians that are not involved with the accident.
Insurance companies have been known to deny claims if the only other corroborating witness was a spouse, because they were not independent enough from the events of the accident. However, the following may be able to be witnesses:
- Other family members
- Other motorists
What If There Isn't a Third-Party Witness?
If you don’t have a third-party witness, your state may not have laws protecting you and you might not be able to file a claim. Uninsured insurance is required by most states, but since it’s very unprofitable for them, they usually only follow the minimum requirements.
Most states require a witness or physical contact for uninsured auto insurance, and they will defer to your company’s requirements unclear situations. Few states have made it unlawful for insurance companies to impose new requirements.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney.
Unfortunately, in no-contact accidents, your insurance company an be very hard to work with. If you were involved in one, you might want to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney. An attorney is best suited to help you navigate this complex process.
If you can file for damages, you first need to write a demand letter that explains exactly what happened, including any injuries, recovery, and damages to your car.
You need to ask for a specific amount and give a time limit for the response. Make it clear that you will file a claim if your claim is denied or you can’t come to a settlement.