Our car accident attorneys handle hit-and-run automobile wrecks and “phantom vehicle” accidents involving wrongful death and serious personal injury in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and D.C. In these cases, you may still be able to recover under an Uninsured Motorist or UM claim with your own insurance company if the hit-and-run motorist or phantom driver was never caught.
We have had many five-figure and six-figure UM settlements. If you were injured in an accident with a hit-and-run driver or a phantom vehicle and the at-fault person has never been captured, you may still be able to recover a substantial award of monetary compensation. Oftentimes, after a hit-and-run accident, innocent accident victims are left wondering why they were left behind by the at-fault motorist, and what to do next. Here are some thoughts on these types of accidents.
Hit-and-run automobile collisions and phantom vehicle accidents are far too common, which is unfortunate. Nothing says “I could care less about you” like negligently causing a crash, and then fleeing the scene. We have handled many hit-and-runs and phantom vehicle cases, and here’s some insight into what they are, why this happens, and what you can do about it:
What is a Hit-and-Run Collision?
A hit-and-run collision is where an at-fault driver causes his or her vehicle to strike you or your vehicle and then flees the scene. We have handled many hit-and-run collisions, including some of the following examples:
- Hit-and-run where a passing vehicle’s passenger-side strikes a bicyclist or pedestrian and the vehicle does not stop.
- Tractor-trailer strikes our client’s vehicle in the middle of the night, then backs up and takes off, leaving our client for dead.
- Hit-and-run where our client was rear-ended in stopped traffic, the at-fault driver alighted from his car and took off running to getaway.
What is a Phantom Vehicle Accident?
A phantom vehicle accident is similar to a hit-and-run in that the at-fault motorist flees or leaves the scene after causing the accident. Phantom vehicle accidents are different from hit-and-runs because the driver of the phantom vehicle does not actually strike the victim or the victim’s vehicle. These are non-contact accidents where the at-fault motorist flees the scene. We have handled numerous phantom vehicle accidents. Here are some examples:
- The phantom waiver. There’s a line of cars in lane 1 and you need to cut through to go back the other way. A friendly motorist stops and waives you through. As you pass, another vehicle going the same direction in lane 2 hits you. The friendly waiver takes off and is never found.
- The phantom driver entering the roadway. You come up to an intersection and you have the right of way. Another motorist pulls into the intersection from an adjoining roadway so close to your vehicle that you have to swerve to avoid a collision. You avoid hitting this car, but when you swerve you strike someone or something else. The car that caused the accident takes off.
- The phantom lane changer. You’re driving on a roadway with two or more lanes in each direction. The car next to you swerves into your lane unexpectedly, forcing you to take evasive action. You avoid colliding with that vehicle but strike something else. The car that came into your lane just keeps ongoing.
Why Do At-Fault Drivers Flee the Scene?
There are many reasons why someone would cause a crash and then flee the scene. We have seen numerous cases where the at-fault driver fled but was later caught, and from those cases, we know that oftentimes there’s a reason for fleeing the scene. Perhaps the at-fault driver was wanted – maybe they had an open warrant for failing to appear in court to answer criminal charges or for non-payment of child support. Oftentimes, the reason for fleeing the scene is that the at-fault driver is on probation or parole and has been warned by their probation officer or parole officer that if they have any police contact, they will go back to jail. Another frequent reason for fleeing the scene is that the at-fault driver is impaired. They are drunk or high, or they have drugs or other contraband in the car, or maybe they are committing some other crime and don’t want to get caught. Or maybe the at-fault driver has no driver’s license, or has no insurance, or is driving an unregistered vehicle. None of this makes fleeing the scene of a serious accident OK.
How Do We Recover Compensation if the Driver is Never Caught?
In many hit-and-run accidents, despite the best efforts of the police and attorneys, the at-fault driver may never be caught. If the at-fault driver cannot be identified, the party who was responsible for causing the accident cannot be held accountable in a court of law. In that case, although you may not be able to bring the perpetrator to justice, we may be able to assist you to secure the compensation for your injuries through an Uninsured Motorist or UM claim.
Uninsured Motorist insurance or UM coverage is insurance you carry on your automobile insurance policy. It pays what you would have recovered from a hit-and-run driver or a phantom driver if you had captured the perpetrator, identified him, and made a civil personal injury claim against him (or her – but usually him). This type of insurance can pay for items of damage such as:
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage or UMPD coverage can pay for your car or truck to be repaired or totaled.
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage or UMBI coverage can pay an award that includes monetary compensation for pain and suffering, money for medical expenses you have incurred, money for medical expenses you may incur in the future, lost wages that have been incurred from being out of work after your accident, lost wages that will be incurred in the future, compensation for permanent functional impairment or loss of use of a body part, and other items of damage.
This is where having an experienced, top-level personal injury attorney is best. We know how to screen for available Uninsured Motorist Insurance and we have the experience to make a successful UM claim.