Picture this – You’re driving along the middle lane of the highway, minding your own business and driving in a safe manner when a driver in the left lane realizes he’s about to miss his exit. He quickly starts to merge into your lane without making sure it’s safe, but you were aware of their presence and you shift into the right lane quickly to avoid being hit by that driver. The problem here is that you didn’t have time to check your blindspot, and you end up hitting a car that was driving in the right lane. You and the car you struck pull over, but the driver you were trying to avoid in the first place keeps on driving, completely unaware that they just caused an accident on the highway.
Now, you’re stuck as the at-fault party for an accident that only occurred because you were trying your best to avoid being struck by a careless driver. What should you do in this situation, and how does Minnesota handle these cases? We explain more in today’s blog.
Phantom Car Accidents
The situation above happens daily in Minnesota, and it can be a frustrating experience for all parties involved. You did everything in your power to avoid an accident, and it caused you to strike another vehicle. Thankfully, the Minnesota Supreme Court has addressed this type of accident to make the process a little less painful.
In 1984, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an opinion on the case Nadeau v. Austin Mutual Insurance Company, which involved a case similar to the accident described in the intro. In their holding, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that individuals involved in an accident that occurred as a result of trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle are entitled to pursue uninsured motorist benefits, even if no contact is made between the vehicle the party was trying to avoid.
Uninsured motorist insurance is typically included in a standard automobile policy, but if you’re wondering if you carry UMI, contact your car insurance provider. By pursuing a claim through your own policy’s uninsured motorist insurance, you can collect an expanded amount of damages, and it should not increase your insurance premium because you are not considered the at-fault driver. However, this process can be complex and difficult to understand, which is why we always recommend that you talk to an attorney before filing a claim. Moreover, the other party involved in your accident may not have seen the “phantom” driver you were trying to avoid, so you may have to do some more legwork to prove your uninsured motorist claim, and that’s where a lawyer comes in.
If you were involved in an accident that occurred as a result of trying to avoid another vehicle, there are some things you’ll want to do in the moment to help your chances of a successful claim. For starters, get as much information about the phantom car as possible. If they realize they caused an accident and stop, this will be easy. If they keep on driving like they often do, try to memorize as much detail as you can about the vehicle.
Next, you’ll want to get contact information from anyone who can verify that the phantom vehicle caused the accident. If a pedestrian or another vehicle stopped because they witnessed the incident, get their contact information so they can verify your side of the story. Finally, be thorough in how you document injuries and vehicle damage as a result of the phantom car crash, because you’ll want to lay everything out as clear as possible when trying to pursue an uninsured motorist claim. Better yet, give all this information to your attorney and let them go to work for you.
For more information about phantom car crashes or accidents that were caused because you were trying to avoid a bigger accident, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Office today.