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Beware 'the phantom car accident'

The phantom car accident is an accident type you are probably unaware of. And yet it is quite common, causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths every year.

A phantom car accident is much like a hit and run -- only the driver's car doesn't actually touch you or your vehicle. It usually causes you to swerve or leave your lane, where the actual violence occurs - striking a pole or wall or curb or tree or other vehicle.

Phantom drivers may know they caused your injury - or, like many distracted drivers, they weren't paying enough attention to see that they injured you. Sometimes, just like hit and run drivers, they speed away and are never heard from again.

Examples of phantom vehicle accidents

· An oncoming car drifts into your lane, and causes you to leave your lane.

· A passing car comes to close to you, and forces you off the road.

· The driver ahead of you throws a can out the window, causing you to veer away.

The problem of phantom accidents

Phantom drivers cause problems on numerous levels:

· Because they didn't stop, you are without emergency assistance.

· Because they leave the scene, you have no third-party insurance to file a claim against.

· Because they disappear, it looks like you caused the accident by yourself.

Filing a claim in a 'miss-and-run' accident

You can't file a claim against a phantom. But you still have an option, filing a claim against your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in your auto insurance policy. UM insurance is part of most people's policies. It is an inexpensive addition to your policy to help you deal with situations like this.

UM coverage is not the end of the story, however. You may be surprised when your own insurance company is suspicious of your claim. Even though they are your insurance company, they will play the same set of tricks on you that they play on other plaintiffs: deny that the accident occurred, deny that your injuries are as serious as you say, and delay any kind of payment to you.

That's when you need a sharp personal injury lawyer on your side. We'll save that story for another time.

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