Even when you drive carefully and responsibly, it is a sad fact that unexpected hazards or another driver’s reckless behaviors can still lead to accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSA) reported that over 36,000 people were killed in car accidents in the U.S. in 2019, and many of these were caused by negligent driving.
Sometimes it is obvious who is to blame in a car accident, but other times it isn’t so clear. What happens if, for example, you swerve to avoid colliding with another car, and, in doing so, create another accident?
If you have been in a car accident where your actions to avoid a collision resulted in another collision, we advise you to seek advice from a reputable law firm as soon as possible. Here at The Law Place, we understand how emotionally, and economically stressful life can be following a car accident. We offer a free consultation where you can ask any questions you have and receive free legal advice regarding your case. This will help you decide whether you wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to help you win compensation for your injuries.
Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today to arrange a free consultation at (941) 444-4444.
Are You at Fault If You Swerve to Avoid an Accident?
All drivers have the duty of care to do their best to protect the safety of other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists while on the road. However, even if you drive as carefully as you can, there will be some instances where you are forced to swerve to avoid a collision. For example, if the driver in front of you brakes suddenly, or a car unexpectedly drifts into your lane. In these situations, most people will instinctively swerve to avoid a collision or to avoid being rear-ended.
If you swerved to avoid a crash and caused another collision, who should be held responsible?
No-Contact Car Accidents
When one driver causes another driver to swerve and collide with another car or object, this is known as a no-contact car accident. The driver who caused you to swerve and crash is known as a phantom driver in this situation. The name reflects the fact that this driver may appear and cause harm but may leave the scene without a trace or without even knowing that they caused the crash. This often makes it very difficult to locate the phantom driver, let alone prove that the phantom driver caused the crash. This makes it difficult to file an accident claim against the other driver to claim compensation for damages.
What Should I Do If I Have Been in a No-Contact Accident?
Sometimes your well-intentioned actions to avoid an accident, such as avoiding hitting another driver who is driving recklessly, can lead to collisions. Swerve accidents like these can cause serious injuries, and it can be difficult to prove who was at fault.
If the actions of a negligent driver caused you to crash, here are the steps you should take:
Identify the Phantom Driver
If you are involved in a no-contact accident like this, the first thing you should do once it is safe is gathering as much evidence as you can to help to identify the phantom driver. Try to remember and take note of:
- The make, model, and color of the phantom driver’s vehicle.
- The license plate number.
- Any other distinguishing features, such as bumper stickers.
If you are unable to remember any of this information, you could try to flag down any cars in the vicinity that might have seen the accident occur. If you require medical attention for your injuries, be aware that you must do so within 14 days of the incident, as per Florida Statute 627.736.
Notify Your Insurance Company and Check Your Policy
If you do not have the license plate or contact details of the phantom driver, then it is unlikely that you will be able to file a personal injury claim against them. Instead, no-contact accidents are usually claimed on the second driver’s insurance.
Under Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that you must first approach your own insurance company following a car accident, regardless of who was to blame. All motorists in Florida must carry a minimum Personal Injury Protection (PIP) of $10,000. You may be able to recover additional damages under your uninsured motorist coverage if you have a policy of this type.
Drivers in Florida are not required to hold uninsured motorist coverage, but we recommend it so that you are covered in case you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist or if you are in a no-contact accident.
Many insurance companies require you to report the accident within a certain time frame following the accident. To be safe, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible, but keep the details of the accident to a minimum until you have contacted an attorney.
Call a Car Accident Attorney
Following a no-contact car accident, knowing how to navigate Florida’s legal system can be intimidating. We recommend that you seek free legal advice from our team.
A personal injury lawyer can help to identify and locate the phantom driver and prove that the accident was indeed the phantom driver’s fault.
A lawyer can help to prove negligence by collecting evidence such as:
- Traffic camera footage.
- Police report.
- Witness statements.
- Accident reconstruction specialists reports.
Collecting a witness report is particularly important in proving to your insurance company that the accident really was caused by the phantom driver. Some insurance companies will require this witness to be an independent third party, meaning that it cannot come from a person you know. In this case, the witness statement from your passenger, be it a friend or relative, will not count. A personal injury lawyer can help you to track down witnesses and contact local businesses for video footage that might help to strengthen your case.
Your personal injury lawyer will also deal with all communications with other parties, including insurance companies. This is important, as insurance companies will always try to reduce the amount they pay out to maximize their profits. This often means that they will try to put the blame on you or devalue your claim. Another driver involved in the accident may also be thinking of filing a lawsuit against you. If so, you should be prepared with legal representation at your side who you can trust.
Call The Law Place
Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience dealing with big insurance companies and have in-depth knowledge of Florida’s personal injury laws. With over 75 years of combined legal experience helping clients just like you, our personal injury lawyers will fight to get you the justice you deserve. Call us today to arrange a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.
Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call now at (941) 444-4444 to see how we can help.