When one vehicle hits another, it can be apparent which driver caused the accident. On the other hand, a no-contact car crash might seem puzzling.
Many no-contact car accidents are complex, making it difficult to determine who is at fault. This often makes filing an insurance claim time-consuming. If you have ever been involved in a no-contact car accident, or even if you haven't, this information is for you.
As a personal injury lawyer, I have worked on several non-contact car crash cases and want to share what I know so that people will be prepared if they are ever in this type of accident.
- In a no-contact car accident, those responsible are the ones whose carelessness or risky actions led to the collision.
- Your insurance company will not pay for damages until it sees evidence that proves your story.
- Most states have laws requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers.
What Is a No-Contact Car Accident?
A no-contact accident is an automobile accident where the vehicles never touch one another. These types of vehicle crashes are also considered a hit and run. The at-fault driver is regarded as the "phantom vehicle" in this instance.
Here are some of the most frequent reasons for no-contact car accidents by phantom drivers:
- A driver fails to signal when merging
- Unexpected braking
- Failure to yield to right-of-way vehicles
Who Can Be Held Liable in a No-Contact Car Accident?
Those who can be held liable in a no-contact car accident are the ones whose negligence or reckless behavior resulted in an accident. If you find the at-fault driver responsible for your accident, you can sue them and receive financial compensation to help pay for the damages.
The driver liable in a no-contact car crash is anyone who contributed to causing it.
This may be:
- Another driver in a passenger vehicle
- Commercial truck drivers
- Taxi or rideshare drivers
- Drivers of public transportation
- People who travel by foot
- Motorcyclists and bicyclists
The Importance of Witnesses in No-Contact Car Accidents
Your auto insurance company will not honor your damages claim until it sees evidence that corroborates your story. The usual form of this is another witness. This second person can be someone else in the car during the accident and so witnessed everything.
What If There Are No Witnesses?
If there are no witnesses, you may still be able to receive damages from your insurer. However, it will not be an easy process. Your accident will also be considered a single-car accident.
If you want to increase your chances of winning an insurance claim, know your state's requirements. For example, a few states require that you have physical contact with the phantom driver's vehicle. And many states require evidence from a corroborating witness.
Can I Sue for Damages After a No-Contact Car Accident?
Yes, you can sue for damages after a no-contact car accident. Although it may appear that one driver is not at fault when the other driver is injured, the law can still hold them liable. For example, they can cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services.
If the other driver cannot be identified in a no-contact car collision, they may not have an auto insurance policy.
That means damages would fall under your insurance company, under an Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) policy.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you don't request otherwise, your insurance company must provide UM/UIM coverage equal to the liability limits in your standard policy.
For example, if your policy has a minimum of $25,000 bodily injury per person and $25,000 property damage per accident, you would have that same amount of UM/UIM coverage .
Most insurance companies are required to offer it, although drivers can opt out of the coverage if they wish.
If you're unsure, ask your own insurance company if your current policy includes UM/UIM coverage, a car accident lawyer will be more than happy to review your plan and help you collect reimbursement for any damages incurred.
"Legally, when a car crash is not your fault, you are allowed to seek compensation for the damages you sustained in the accident. However, it can be tough to prove that another driver was at fault for your crash if there was no contact."
- Bernard Cohen, Attorney
What Do I Do After a No-Contact Car Collision?
After a no-contact car collision, you must gather extensive evidence to support your case. Here are some ways to protect yourself and gather evidence following an auto collision where there was no vehicle contact.
Call the Police
If you're ever in an accident, you should first pull over to the side of the road and call 911. The police will document everything that happened and file a report.
If you get the at-fault driver's license plate number, give this information (as well as any other identifying information about the other driver) to the police officers.
Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
Immediately after a hit-and-run accident, use your phone to take photos of any injuries you or anyone else sustained and damage done to both your vehicle and the at-fault driver’s vehicle. This will help your car insurance company.
Find and Speak with Witnesses
Witness statements identifying the liable driver and how they caused your damages can be valuable pieces of evidence, especially in no-contact accidents.
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What Damages Could Occur In Phantom Vehicle Accidents?
The damages that could occur in phantom vehicle accidents include injuries to the driver and passengers, damage to the vehicle, and property damage.
What If A Phantom Driver Caused My No-Contact Accident?
If a phantom driver caused your no-contact accident, they will be held liable and will compensate you for the damages. However, it would help if you had an eyewitness to confirm the no-contact crash, or else the process will take a lot of time.
How Long Does An Insurance Company Have To Investigate A Claim?
The insurance company has about 30 days to investigate a claim, though the number of days varies by state.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Single-car accidents are already frustrating, but a non-contact car crash can be even more annoying. You know the other driver is at fault, but it's sometimes difficult to prove that to your insurance company.
At Schmidt & Clark, LLP we're here to help you get the compensation you deserve by filing a personal injury claim.
With two decades of success in fighting for proper financial compensation for our clients, we are confident in taking on any challenge. Please request a free consultation with one of our lawyers today.