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Can you sue after a no-contact car or motorcycle accident in Wisconsin?

What to do if a phantom driver causes your crash

No contact car accident Wisconsin
If the driver who caused your crash disappeared, you need an experienced attorney to defend your claim.
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Will your insurance company pay your claim if someone cuts you off, swerves into your lane, or otherwise causes you to crash without ever touching your vehicle? There’s no clear-cut answer to this question. It all depends on the circumstances of the accident. Cases involving damage to only one vehicle/driver are particularly difficult when the at-fault driver is never identified. Read on to learn more about these types of accidents and how we can help.

What is a no-contact car or motorcycle accident?

Also known as no-collision accidents, these are accidents in which only one car or driver is damaged or injured. Most of these accidents are considered single car accidents by insurance companies—which all too often means the victim is considered at-fault for the accident. This is particularly true when the other driver can’t be identified (“phantom driver” cases). The exceptions are accidents caused by a deer lunging in front of your car, or a bird hitting your windshield.

Obviously, it’s extremely frustrating to have an accident caused by someone else cutting you off or running you off the road and then be treated as though it were your fault. You and/or your attorney need to prove the other driver acted negligently in causing your accident. The difficulty, of course, is that the at-fault driver usually doesn’t stop. In some cases, the at-fault driver many not even be aware he caused an accident. If you can’t identify the driver who caused your accident, you can’t file a claim against him.

Common ways no-contact accidents happen

  • Another driver cuts you off and causes you to crash
  • Another motorist runs you off the road
  • Another vehicle swerves into your lane
  • A driver from incoming traffic suddenly turns left in front of you, causing you to swerve and crash
  • The driver in front of you stops abruptly, causing you to swerve to avoid hitting them

Identifying phantom drivers

In a best case scenario, you’ll be able to see and make note of the other driver’s license number and report the accident to the police. This is rarely possible, though, especially in an emergency situation. Getting even a partial license plate number and a good description of the vehicle (make, model, color) can help the police identify the other driver.
Should you file a police report?

Even if you didn’t see the at-fault driver’s license plate and have only a fuzzy recollection of the vehicle that caused your accident, you definitely should file a police report. Even if the at-fault driver is identified, though, he/she is not necessarily going to admit any fault in causing the accident—which means you have no case. And this is why having witnesses to the accident is so important.

Should you file a police report?

Even if you didn’t see the at-fault driver’s license plate and have only a fuzzy recollection of the vehicle that caused your accident, you definitely should file a police report. Even if the at-fault driver is identified, though, he/she is not necessarily going to admit any fault in causing the accident—which means you have no case. And this is why having witnesses to the accident is so important.

Witnesses are critical to your case

No contact motorcycle accident Wisconsin
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Having a witness who backs up your story puts you in a much better position to sue for damages—and win. The best witnesses are other drivers or pedestrians who were not involved in the accident. Although a witness can be another person who was in the car with you, insurance companies tend to consider spouses with skepticism.

Without an at-fault driver and without witnesses, insurance companies can be inclined to suspect you were actually the cause of your accident. With so many cases of distracted driving due to texting and looking at navigation screens, it’s easy to see why insurance companies are becoming quick to suspect drivers in single-car accidents.

No at-fault driver identified & no witnesses--now what?

If the only damage is to you and/or your vehicle, it’s likely your insurance company will cover the damages under the uninsured motorist coverage you have on your policy. Insurance companies include coverage for such “phantom driver” accidents under the uninsured motorist coverage.

In Wisconsin, drivers are required to carry these minimum amounts of uninsured motorist coverage:

  • $25,000 for the bodily injury of one person
  • $50,000 for the bodily injury or more than one person

If you’ve been hospitalized for injuries caused by a phantom driver, you know already how a week in the hospital can make these dollar amounts look paltry. You may want to take a look at your policy and consider increasing the coverage amounts.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Many insurance companies will require a witness to corroborate your version of the accident before paying out from your uninsured motorist coverage. Without a witness, your accident will be considered a single-car accident—which means you are considered the at-fault driver. Your insurance company will cover your damages and expenses per the coverages in your policy, but your rates will go up and they may even try to cancel your policy.

What most insurance agents will tell you about swerving to avoid an accident

It’s a natural tendency for drivers to swerve to avoid an accident, but in so doing you can end up hitting another vehicle (making you clearly an at-fault driver) or running off the road and hitting a tree, a guardrail, or even a pedestrian. Then, you have the hassle of trying to prove you only swerved because another driver gave you no choice. For this reason, most insurance agents generally advise against swerving to try to avoid a collision.

Get advice from an experienced personal injury attorney

No-contact accidents are much more complicated than collision accidents, particularly when the at-fault driver is a mystery. You really need to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to get a clear idea of whether you have grounds to file a suit for your damages or not.

Attorney Steve Caya is not only an experienced, award-winning attorney, he’s also a motorcyclist who has been injured in an accident—so he knows all the hassles and headaches you’re dealing with right now.

As an accomplished personal injury lawyer, he has in-depth understanding of Wisconsin’s car accident laws and how they apply to no-contact accidents. As a former insurance industry attorney, he knows how insurers operate and what it takes to force them to pay a fair amount when compensation is owed.

ready to make them pay?

Free case consultation

Contact the law offices of Steve Caya to request a free initial consultation on your case. If you have grounds to file a claim, you’ll pay nothing until you have been compensated and our No Win, No Fee policy ensures you’ll owe us nothing if we don’t prevail in your case.

We’re in Janesville, but you don’t have to be. We’ll gladly visit you anywhere in WI to discuss your claim.

Contact us now to request a free initial consultation on your no-contact accident case.