What’s a ‘Phantom Driver’ in an Accident?

Not all car accidents involve one vehicle hitting another. Some involve just one vehicle striking a fixed object. In a single-vehicle accident, if another driver caused the collision yet did not touch the first vehicle, the police will refer to the at-fault driver as a phantom driver. Phantom drivers are hit-and-run drivers without the hit. They often leave the scene without realizing they even caused an accident. If your car accident case involves a phantom driver, it may be difficult to obtain compensation for your damages. If this happened to you, our Atlanta car accident attorney can answer your legal questions and review your case over a free consultation.

What Is a Phantom Driver?

Phantom drivers are often the at-fault drivers in no-contact accidents. A no-contact accident is a crash that involves two vehicles but no collision. One driver may force another to crash through an act of negligence or recklessness without any contact between the two vehicles. In a no-contact crash, the at-fault driver will often leave the scene without staying to give identifying information. This is because the at-fault driver was not paying enough attention to realize he or she caused a crash. A phantom driver could cause a no-contact accident in many different ways.

  • Running a red light
  • Rolling through an intersection
  • Drifting into someone else’s lane
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Merging without signaling
  • Merging on top of another car
  • Making an unsafe pass
  • Losing cargo
  • Tossing items out the window

When one driver forces another to swerve, slam on the brakes or drive off the road, the first driver could be at fault for the accident even without an actual collision. The phantom driver could be guilty of distracted, dangerous, negligent, reckless or drunk driving and not even notice the crash occur. Thus, the at-fault driver speeds off and never faces the consequences of causing the no-contact accident.

What to Do After an Accident Involving a Phantom Driver

If you get into a no-contact crash and the other driver does not stick around to give you his or her information, document the accident as best you can. Write down what happened in as much detail as you remember, including anything that could help the police identify the phantom driver. This may include the color of the other vehicle, its make and model, or a description of the driver. Take photographs of your property damages, personal injuries and the location of the crash. Call the police and file an official report.

Get medical care as soon as possible after a no-contact car accident. Keep a record of your medical bills, treatment plans and the names of your doctors. Then, call your insurance company. Since you do not have the at-fault driver available to take the blame, you will seek damage reimbursement from your auto insurance provider. In Georgia, the required minimum auto insurance includes uninsured motorist bodily injury and property damage coverage. This part of your policy will cover your damages after an accident with a hit-and-run or phantom driver.

The policy minimums in Georgia are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance, along with $25,000 in uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Your insurance company should cover your medical bills and property damages up to your policy’s maximum after an accident involving a phantom driver. Call your insurance company to file an accident claim within 24 hours. If your insurance company denies your claim or does not offer enough to compensate for your losses, hire an attorney for assistance.

When to Call an Accident Attorney

Navigating Georgia’s laws and an uninsured motorist insurance claim after a no-contact crash can be difficult alone. Your insurance company may short you the true costs of your health care and auto repair or unfairly delay your payout. A lawyer could help you negotiate a fairer settlement agreement from your insurance provider. Even without a phantom driver available to take liability for a no-contact crash, a lawyer could help you obtain compensation for your damages.