Getting run off the road by another vehicle, and getting into an accident, as a result, can be very dangerous. No matter how you crash afterward, you may face severe injuries and vehicle damage. What’s worse, the motorist might be a “phantom driver” who doesn’t stop or even realize they caused your crash.
If you crashed after someone ran you off the road, you need to know essential details applying to this situation. Compared to two-car collisions where the at-fault driver is known and present, the way you make a claim for damages in a single-car collision can be much more complicated.
Identifying the At-Fault Driver
Knowing who ran you off the road in the first place is a huge help. If that driver stopped or identified themselves, and especially if they admit fault, it can be beneficial to your case. In a personal injury accident like this, you need to know the at-fault party so you can file a claim against their insurance company for your costs.
Unfortunately, many single-car collisions, also known as no-contact car accidents, get caused by a driver who didn’t stop. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 40-6-270 states that it’s illegal to leave an accident scene. Unfortunately, many times, drivers get distracted and don’t even notice they made you run off the road and crash. The damage was done, and they were gone quickly. When this happens, there is no person to assign fault to—and it can be very frustrating.
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Talking to Witnesses
When the driver is not fully known, having eyewitness testimony can be vital to your case. Someone else could have noticed identifying details about the driver or their vehicle that you didn’t—or they can provide an account of what happens that mirrors your own.
Basically, a witness’s story can help prove what happened—because the proof is significant in an accident claim.
After your crash, if you can, look for any witnesses you can talk to. Get their full name, phone number, and email address. Ask if they would be willing to tell the police what they saw and help you with your claim. Your car accident lawyer can also reach out to them for more information later.
Gathering More Evidence of Your Crash
Besides gathering information from independent eyewitnesses, there are other ways you can compile evidence of your no-contact accident:
- If you were run off the road near a local business, some of them might have video surveillance. You can ask for their video footage in case it was caught on camera.
- Take pictures of everything, including your injuries and your vehicle damage. If the other driver’s car did come into contact with your own before you ran off the road, take pictures of where the contact happened.
- Take pictures of the accident scene itself and any identifying landmarks or businesses.
- Jot down anything you can remember about the driver’s vehicle appearance (especially license plate) and how the driver looked themselves.
- Call a car accident lawyer. They can help you build a stronger case and utilize all your options.
An experienced attorney can draw on their resources to help your case. Sometimes, analyzing the damage patterns to your vehicle, reconstructing an accident, or asking witnesses the right questions can help prove your case. A lawyer will also help you deal with your insurance company if they are trying to say you caused your accident.
How the Insurance Company Handles Single-Car Crashes
If you cannot identify or locate the phantom driver, your insurance company will usually treat them the same way as an uninsured driver. That means your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) might apply.
You do not have to carry UIM coverage, but all insurance companies are required to offer it to you. So unless you specifically denied it or unchecked a box online when purchasing your policy, you probably have this coverage.
You might be required to confirm the crash from an eyewitness, as mentioned above. However, in some situations, this witness might have to be an independent third party that isn’t a friend, spouse, or family member or wasn’t a passenger in your vehicle. This is why it’s so important to talk to anyone who may have seen the accident happen.
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Insurance Companies Are Not On Your Side
In a single-car collision without any contact between vehicles, it can be hard to prove to the insurance company that another driver caused the accident. They usually require proof to prevent policyholders from fraudulently claiming for an accident that was their fault. While that makes sense, insurers will also look for ways to place blame on you even if you had no fault in the crash.
You would think that insurance companies would do the right thing and pay a fair settlement to car accident victims. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. You’re more likely to get offered a lowball settlement as opposed to the compensation you rightfully deserve. It’s best to consult with an attorney regarding your accident and how you can fight back.
File Your Claim Before the Statute of Limitations
OCGA § 9-3-33 gives you two years to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. In other words, you get two years from the date of your accident to recover financial compensation. If you pass these two years, you can’t file anymore. Therefore, you must remember the deadline and get started building a case for your claim as fast as you can. If you let too much time pass, it can be challenging to recover the critical evidence necessary to win a settlement.
Get Legal Help After Someone Ran You Off the Road
At John Foy & Associates, we’ve been helping Georgia car accident victims win the financial recovery they deserve for more than 20 years. We know how frustrating it can be to crash because of someone else’s negligence, especially if the other driver doesn’t stop. Call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started with your free consultation.