When most people think of a car accident, they picture a collision between two vehicles. But sometimes, accidents are more complicated than that. Hit and run accidents, for example, leave the victim with minimal information about who hit them. That can make filing an insurance claim for damages very difficult. And if the accident is caused by what’s known as a “phantom driver,” it can be even harder to determine who is at fault and get compensation for damages.
Phantom drivers bring unique challenges to the aftermath of an accident. It’s important to know how to handle them and what to do if you’ve been hit by a phantom driver.
What is a Phantom Driver Accident?
A phantom driver is a driver who causes an accident even though they never came into contact with another vehicle. They are like a “phantom” because they’re present one moment and then gone.
Some phantom drivers don’t even realize they caused an accident, so they continue driving. Since the driver doesn’t pull over, they are usually unidentifiable. Accidents caused by phantom drivers are treated the same as hit and run accidents, although “miss and run” is a more accurate term.
What are Examples of Accidents Caused By a Phantom Driver?
Many times, a phantom driver will drift from their lane into another lane with a second car. To avoid the phantom driver, the second car will swerve away quickly. This can result in a collision with a third car (or pedestrian, bicyclist, etc) or a single-car accident if the second driver runs off the road and crashes.
Another example could be a driver who pulls out in front of another driver, causing them to swerve or brake quickly, resulting in an accident.
Basically, any phantom driver accident is defined by this formula:
- A driver gets in the way of another vehicle, causing that vehicle’s driver to swerve (or do some other action) in order to avoid a collision.
- Because the second driver moved unexpectedly to avoid the first driver, they end up crashing—either by hitting another vehicle, pedestrian, or having a single-car accident.
- The first driver (the phantom driver) continues driving, either to avoid the accident consequences or because they didn’t even notice the damage they caused.
A phantom driver is usually a distracted driver. They’re likely not paying full attention to their surroundings, which is why they didn’t see the other vehicle in the first place. Sometimes, a phantom driver is engaging in reckless or drunk behavior.
Is the Phantom Driver Responsible for Damages?
Even if the phantom driver does not stop, they are still legally at fault for the crash if their actions directly caused it. That means they are liable for all injuries and other damages resulting from the accident. The problem is that you need some sort of identifying information to file an insurance claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
There are some methods that may help you identify a phantom driver. If there were any witnesses to your crash, they may have seen the vehicle’s license plate or be able to describe unique details of the vehicle. If you saw what the driver looked like, that can be helpful too.
In some situations, the phantom driver might come back to the scene and admit fault, although this is pretty rare. If you aren’t able to identify the phantom driver, you can probably turn to uninsured motorist coverage through your own car insurance to cover some of your expenses.
To know all of your options, it’s best to consult with a Georgia hit and run accident lawyer as soon as you can after the accident occurs.
What Do I Do If I’m Hit By a Phantom Driver?
If you crash while trying to avoid a phantom driver, you should call 911 to report the accident. If you have any injuries that are life-threatening, you should also get medical attention right away.
Otherwise, while you’re waiting for the police, here are some things you should do.
Note Any and All Details
Use your phone or pen and paper to jot down anything you can remember about the accident and the other vehicle. That includes what the driver looked like, the type of vehicle they drove, any type of their license plate, and anything else. Be sure to tell police exactly how the phantom driver caused your accident.
If you are somehow able to get a picture of the vehicle before they drive away, that can be very helpful. Also, take pictures of all injuries and vehicle damage that resulted from the accident.
Look For and Talk to Witnesses
As mentioned above, talk to any witnesses and ask what they saw. Other people might have additional information about the phantom driver.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance
You will need to let your own auto insurance know about the accident within 24 hours of your accident, if you can. Gathering the information mentioned above will help prove the accident actually happened (and that it was caused by the other driver, not you) so your coverage claim doesn’t get denied.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Phantom driver situations can get complicated quickly, especially if you struggle to get enough information on the other driver. But don’t let it discourage you from getting help. You may have more options than you think. And having a lawyer on your side greatly increases your chance of financial recovery.
Need Help After a Phantom Driver Accident?
Dealing with a phantom driver accident is hard enough as you’re worrying about paying your bills and getting coverage from your insurance company. At John Foy & Associates, we can handle the legal side of things. We’ll investigate your case and help you make the best steps possible—with the goal of full financial recovery. That way, you can focus on recovering from your accident.
For a FREE consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers in Georgia, call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started today.