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Phantom Drivers _ Miss-and-Run

Phantom Drivers: Miss-and-Run Accidents in Texas

You are driving down a two-way highway in Texas when suddenly, a car from the opposite direction veers into your lane. You swerve off the road and crash into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision. The other driver continues without stopping to check on you or exchange insurance information. Your car is totaled, and you suffer severe injuries requiring hospitalization. The driver who caused this catastrophe never stopped, leaving no trace behind.

This type of no-contact accident— also called a miss-and-run accident—is all too common in Texas and is often caused by what are known as “phantom drivers.” These drivers cause the crash but are not directly involved, making it challenging to prove their presence. These incidents can be highly frustrating and costly for victims who know they weren’t at fault but struggle to prove it.

In this article, our experienced personal injury attorneys at Varghese Summersett discuss phantom drivers, what to do if you’re involved in this type of accident, how to prove another vehicle caused the crash, and the steps to take to seek compensation for your damages.

What is a Phantom Driver

What is a Phantom Driver?

A phantom driver is a driver who causes an accident without making physical contact with the victim’s vehicle and then leaves the scene—sometimes unaware they caused a crash. This type of incident is also known as a “miss-and-run” or “no-contact accident.”

Key characteristics of phantom driver accidents include:

  1. The at-fault driver causes another motorist to take evasive action, such as swerving or braking suddenly, to avoid a collision.
  2. The evasive maneuver results in the victim crashing into another vehicle, object, or going off the road.
  3. The phantom driver continues driving, either unaware of the accident they caused or deliberately fleeing the scene.
  4. There is no physical contact between the phantom driver’s vehicle and the victim’s vehicle.

These accidents can be challenging from a legal perspective because:

  1. It can be difficult to identify the phantom driver, as they often leave little physical evidence.
  2. Proving fault becomes more complicated without direct contact between vehicles.
  3. Insurance claims may be more challenging to process, as some insurance policies treat phantom driver accidents differently from hit-and-run accidents.

How to Prove a Phantom Driver is Responsible

What to Do If a Phantom Driver Caused Your Accident

Being involved in an accident caused by a phantom driver—a driver who flees the scene or remains unidentified—can be a distressing and confusing experience. Unlike typical accidents where the responsible party is present, a phantom driver incident leaves you without the other driver’s information, making it more challenging to seek compensation. However, there are crucial steps you can take to protect your rights and hopefully ensure you receive the support you need. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

1. Ensure Safety and Seek Medical Attention

  • Check for injuries: Assess yourself and any passengers for injuries.
  • Move to a safe location: If possible, move your vehicle to a safe area to avoid further collisions.
  • Call 911: Report the accident and request medical assistance.

2. Gather Evidence

  • Note details: Write down any details you remember about the phantom driver, such as the vehicle’s make, model, color, or any part of the license plate number. Take note of the driver’s physical appearance.
  • Document the scene: Take photos and videos of the accident scene, including your vehicle, road conditions, and any damage.
  • Look for witnesses: Speak to anyone who witnessed the accident and get their contact information. Their statements can be crucial in establishing the phantom driver’s involvement.

3. Report the Accident

  • Call the police: File a report with the police, providing them with all the information you have gathered. Ensure you get a copy of the police report for your records.
  • Notify your insurance company: Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with all the details and evidence you have collected.

4. Seek Legal Advice

  • Consult a personal injury attorney: A lawyer experienced in phantom driver cases can guide you through the legal process and help you pursue compensation for your damages and injuries.
  • Understand your coverage: Your attorney can help you understand your insurance policy, including any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that may apply.

5. Follow Medical Advice

  • Get a thorough medical examination: Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Follow all medical advice and keep records of your treatments.
  • Document your recovery: Keep detailed records of your medical appointments, treatments, and any impact on your daily life and ability to work.

6. Stay Informed

  • Keep communication open: Stay in touch with your insurance company and attorney to remain updated on the progress of your case.
  • Be proactive: Follow up on any required documentation or evidence needed to support your claim.

Handling a phantom driver accident can be challenging, but taking these steps can help you protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. It’s important to seek professional advice and support throughout the process to navigate the complexities of your case effectively.

How to Prove a Phantom Driver is Responsible

How to Prove a Phantom Driver Caused Your Accident

Although miss-and-run cases, or phantom accidents, are more complex than straightforward collisions, proving that another vehicle caused the accident is possible. An expert skilled in gathering crucial evidence, such as skid marks, witness statements, and security camera footage, is essential for seeking justice. Even if your case seems hopeless, consulting with a lawyer is important.

To pursue a personal injury claim in a phantom driver case in Texas, victims typically need to gather evidence such as:

  • Get Information about the Phantom Driver and Vehicle
    If you can, note the phantom driver’s vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number. If possible, also get a description of the driver.
  • Make a Police Report
    It’s imperative to report the accident to the police. The official report can serve as a crucial piece of evidence detailing the circumstances of the accident and the fact that the other driver fled the scene.
  • Obtain Witness Statements
    Obtain statements from any witnesses who saw the accident. Their accounts can help corroborate your events and provide additional details about the phantom driver’s vehicle and actions.
  • Check Security Camera Footage
    Check for any nearby security cameras that may have captured the accident. This can include footage from businesses, traffic cameras, or residential properties. Video evidence can be compelling in proving the phantom driver’s presence and actions.
  • Take Photos and Videos of the Accident Scene and Vehicle Damage
    Take comprehensive photos of the accident scene, your vehicle’s damage, and other relevant details. These images can help illustrate the impact and support your claim that another vehicle was involved.
  • Keep Medical Records Documenting Injuries
    Seek medical attention immediately after the accident and maintain thorough records of your injuries and treatments. Medical documentation can link your injuries to the accident, reinforcing your claim for damages.
  • Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
    Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can be crucial in these cases, as they can help gather evidence to find the phantom driver, negotiate with insurance companies, and potentially pursue legal action to recover damages for the victim.

Recovering damages if hit by phantom driver

Recovering Damages if Struck by a Phantom Driver in Texas

It is possible that the police may not be able to identify the driver responsible for a no contact — or miss-and-run — accident. If the driver is not found, you must consider other options, such as filing a claim with your insurance provider.

Filing a claim with your own insurance is a common step after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. This is one of the reasons you pay for insurance. Unfortunately, in Texas, miss-and-runs are not covered under uninsured motorist (UM) policies due to the “actual contact” rule followed by most insurers. This rule states that there must be physical contact between your vehicle and the at-fault vehicle, resulting in damage. If your accident involved such contact, your UM policy might be able to help.

A UM policy allows you to recover compensation through your own insurance if the at-fault driver is uninsured or unidentified. The amount you can recover will be based on your policy limits, which are often the same as your auto insurance limits. Texas law requires drivers to have at least:

  • $30,000 in injury liability per person
  • $60,000 in injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage liability per accident

However, obtaining this compensation can still be challenging. Phantom drivers often leave little evidence behind, even if they do contact with your vehicle, making it easy for your insurance provider to deny your claim. While insurance companies are supposed to pay fair compensation to their clients, they often try to minimize payouts to protect their profits.

Navigating this process can be difficult, but knowing your rights and understanding your insurance coverage can help you recover the damages you deserve.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Texas

Another option to consider is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is a type of auto insurance coverage that pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

In Texas, insurance companies are required to offer PIP coverage, but policyholders can choose to reject it in writing. If you have PIP coverage, it can provide essential financial support to cover your immediate needs following a hit-and-run accident, making it easier to manage medical bills and other expenses. At the same time, you pursue other avenues for compensation.

Navigating this process can be difficult, but knowing your rights and understanding your insurance coverage can help you recover the damages you deserve. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can also provide valuable assistance in dealing with insurance companies and ensuring you receive the compensation for which you are entitled.

What happens if phantom driver is arrested

What Happens if the Phantom Driver is Arrested?

If the police successfully identify and arrest the phantom driver responsible for your accident, several important steps follow that can significantly impact your ability to recover damages and seek justice:

1. Criminal Charges

If arrested, the driver could face criminal charges for hit-and-run, which can include severe penalties such as fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. The severity of these penalties often depends on the circumstances of the accident, including the extent of the damages and injuries caused.

2. Personal Injury Claim

You can file a personal injury claim with the driver identified to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. This civil action is separate from the criminal proceedings and focuses on recovering monetary damages. To be successful, you must prove negligence – that the driver owed you a duty of care, breached that duty by causing the accident, and that the accident resulted in your injuries and damages.

negligence

How Do You Prove Negligence in a Phantom Accident Case?

  • Duty of Care: In Texas, all drivers have a legal duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and avoid harming others. This means following traffic laws, paying attention to the road, and taking reasonable precautions to prevent accidents.
  • Breach of Duty: If the arrested driver was negligent, such as by driving recklessly, speeding, or fleeing the scene, they breached their duty of care. This breach is key in establishing liability in a personal injury claim.
  • Causation and Damages: You must also demonstrate that the driver’s breach of duty directly caused your injuries and that you suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Our personal injury lawyer will make sure you are not suffering in silence.

Injured in a Phantom Accident? Call Vargherse Summersett.

Being involved in a phantom accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed. You deserve justice, and the experienced personal injury attorneys at Varghese Summersett are ready to fight for you once the driver has been identified.

At Varghese Summersett, we understand the unique challenges of complex accident cases. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly to gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue legal action if necessary to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Whether it’s recovering medical expenses, lost wages, or compensation for pain and suffering, we are committed to standing by your side every step of the way.

Don’t navigate this difficult journey alone. Call Varghese Summersett at 817-203-2220 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will review your case and provide honest, straightforward advice on how to proceed.

Our Fort Worth personal injury lawyer team

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