The Phantom Vehicle

ghostsThe term “phantom vehicle” with regard to automobile accidents can mean a couple of different things to insurance companies.  It can refer to a vehicle that causes injuries, damage or even death to another person and his or her vehicle without making physical contact with the insured or the insured’s vehicle.   An example of this could be a phantom vehicle cutting off an insured driver, causing the insured to swerve and hit a median.  Insurance companies also sometimes refer to vehicles that hit and run as phantom vehicles.  In both scenarios, the driver of the phantom vehicle remains an unknown entity.  Incidents involving phantom vehicles can result in claims against the injured party’s uninsured motorist policy.  Regulations and requirements with regard to phantom vehicle claims vary by state.

Examples of requirements involving a phantom vehicle insurance claim may include:

  • That the facts surrounding the accident can be independently supported by evidence other than statements of the insured or any other person with an claim resulting from the accident.
  • That the insured reported the incident within a specified time frame to the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where the incident took place.
  • That the insured filed a claim with the insurance company within a specified time period
  • That the insured provided a statement under oath that he or she has a cause of action against a person who cannot be identified and the facts surrounding the incident.

Sometimes, even with all the requirements met, the phantom vehicle case can be hard to prove.  An insurance company may argue that there is no evidence to support the existence of a phantom vehicle, or that the fact pattern more strongly supports the fault of the insured.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Auto Accident Attorney with the leading accident information site on the web, AutoAccident.com.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a phantom vehicle, call me now at (916) 921-6400. If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call us at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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