What Happens if an Accident Is Caused By a ‘Phantom Driver’ in Georgia?
When you think of car accidents, you typically imagine a physical collision between two or more vehicles. Sometimes, however, a vehicle causes an accident without hitting any other vehicles – and then leaves the scene.
They’re known as phantom drivers, and these types of incidents are sometimes referred to as “miss and run” accidents to distinguish them from hit and run crashes.
What Is a Phantom Driver Accident?
- 1 What Is a Phantom Driver Accident?
- 2 What Types of Accidents Can be Caused by a Phantom Driver?
- 3 How Can I Prove a Phantom Driver Caused My Accident?
- 4 Can a Phantom Driver Be Held Liable for Damages?
- 5 Can I Recover Damages from the Phantom Driver’s Insurance Company?
- 6 What if the Phantom Driver is Never Found? Will My Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cover My Damages?
- 7 What Should I Do If a Phantom Driver Was Responsible for My Accident?
A phantom driver is someone who caused another car to crash but didn’t stay to take responsibility and determine the damages or injuries. For example, another vehicle could suddenly veer into your lane. If you then swerve to avoid the first car and crash, it’s a miss and run involving a phantom driver.
It happens more often than you think, causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths each year. There doesn’t even have to be contact between the two vehicles for the accident to occur.
Both miss and runs and hit and runs can have the same repercussions – an injured person, a damaged vehicle, and damaged property – and there is no at-fault driver who can be held responsible for the accident.
What Types of Accidents Can be Caused by a Phantom Driver?
Phantom drivers quite often are distracted and not aware that their actions can have serious, even lethal, consequences. Here are a few ways these accidents happen:
- Running a red light
- Rolling through an intersection
- Drifting into someone else’s lane
- Changing lanes in an unsafe manner
- Merging without signaling
- Merging on top of another car
- Making an unsafe pass
- Losing cargo
- Tossing items out the window
How Can I Prove a Phantom Driver Caused My Accident?
You will probably need the help of a personal injury attorney, as this is quite difficult to prove, especially once they’ve left the scene. If by chance you can detect any details about the vehicle, the license tag or any witnesses, you’re off to a great start. More likely, however, you may be startled, dazed and unable to document many details.
Write down what happened in as much detail as you remember, including anything that could help the police identify the phantom driver. Take photographs of your property damage, personal injuries and the location of the crash. Call the police and file an official report.
Get medical care as soon as possible after a no-contact car accident. Keep a record of your medical bills, treatment plans and the names of your doctors. Then, call your insurance company within 24 hours. All these efforts could help you prove your case.
Can a Phantom Driver Be Held Liable for Damages?
Just like any hit-and-run accident, if a person is injured in a phantom driver accident, the phantom driver may be held at fault for the crash, assuming he or she can be found. If the phantom driver admits fault or if there were any witnesses to the crash, this could prove to be very useful if your or other victims decide to pursue a legal claim.
Phantom drivers create unique problems after an accident. It’s crucial to understand how to navigate these issues and pursue the appropriate course of action. If you’ve been involved in a no-contact accident, Adamson & Cleveland can guide you through the legal process.
Can I Recover Damages from the Phantom Driver’s Insurance Company?
The phantom driver is legally responsible for the car accident if their negligent actions triggered it. This implies that they are responsible for all damages and injuries resulting from the accident. The challenge is identifying details to file an insurance claim with the responsible driver’s insurance provider.
In some cases, the phantom driver’s vehicle may have been captured on video by a surveillance camera or a vehicle’s dash cam. This could prove very helpful if images are available.
In some cases, the at-fault driver may return to the scene and accept responsibility, but this is quite rare.
What if the Phantom Driver is Never Found? Will My Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cover My Damages?
If you don’t have the at-fault driver to take the blame, you can seek damage reimbursement from your auto insurance company. In Georgia, the required minimum auto insurance includes uninsured motorist (UM) bodily injury and property damage coverage. This part of your policy can cover your damages after an accident with a hit-and-run or phantom driver. However, most insurers won’t cover this type of accident without some additional proof to support your claim.
In a hit and hit, evidence of physical contact with the other car, or independent witness statements, are enough evidence for most insurer’s to accept a claim. In miss and run accidents, the same types of proof apply. Dash cams are a good investment to help you cover losses in these type accidents. Many businesses and homeowners now have video cameras outside their properties, so check around the scene to see if any cameras may have recorded the accident.
The policy minimums in Georgia are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for UM bodily injury insurance, along with $25,000 in UM property damage coverage. Your insurance company should cover your medical bills and property damages up to your policy’s maximum after an accident involving a phantom driver.
Even though you are dealing with “your” insurance company, you need to keep in mind that they still want to make your claim go away for as little money as possible. That’s why you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side to look out for your interests.
What Should I Do If a Phantom Driver Was Responsible for My Accident?
It may be apparent that the phantom driver was distracted, negligent, reckless or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Since a phantom driver situation can get complicated quickly, it’s best to contact a Georgia personal injury lawyer with Adamson & Cleveland soon after the accident happens.
At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, we’ve recovered more than $150 million for our clients in a variety of personal injury cases. Winning against big insurance companies with deep pockets inspires our best work. In Norcross, Gwinnett County and throughout Georgia, we’re known for:
- Nearly 40 years of combined experience
- Respect of our peers in the legal profession, the judicial system and our clients
- Compassionate customer service
- Track record of success going to trial
- 24/7 responsiveness – call, text, email
- Giving you our cell phone numbers so you can reach us anytime
- Free Consultation – No Risk, No Obligation
At Adamson & Cleveland, we’re ready to go to work for you, righting the wrongs that occurred at the hands of a phantom driver. Contact us now.
Kevin Adamson is a former college baseball player who brings a competitive spirit to personal injury trials and settlement negotiations. Kevin played baseball at LaGrange College and went on to earn his MBA from Lynchburg College and his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Since 2001, he has focused on personal injury law and secured numerous six- and seven-figure results for his clients. He is also a registered arbitrator and mediator with extensive experience handling contract negotiations for a variety of professional services, including athletic contracts. Kevin also owns his own airplane and makes frequent use of it for his law practice, which has taken him to 18 states.