A phantom vehicle case is similar to a hit-and-run accident. Here, the responsible driver leaves the scene of the accident, and although his or her driving error caused the collision, there was no contact between the responsible driver’s vehicle and other vehicles involved. For example, if a truck merges into your lane and you are able to swerve and avoid contact with the truck, any accident that occurs due to your evasive maneuver would be the truck driver’s fault. If the truck driver leaves the scene and is never identified, this would be a phantom vehicle case.
Unfortunately, victims of phantom vehicle drivers have few legal rights under North Carolina insurance law. In a typical hit-and-run case, victims can present all claims against the hit-and-run driver under their uninsured motorist coverage. However, the UM policy specifically requires “contact” with the hit-and-run vehicle before coverage would apply. Thus, the victim of the phantom vehicle cannot collect UM benefits. The only claims that are covered by the victim’s personal auto policy would be a collision claim for repair or replacement of the vehicle and a medical payments claim to fund medical care costs for all occupants of the insured vehicle. It is truly unfortunate that a victim of a phantom vehicle accident cannot collect for lost wages, pain and suffering, and other obvious losses.