Should You Swerve To Avoid An Accident

Many drivers have been in situations where they must make a last-minute maneuver to avoid hitting another careless driver. For example, a driver may have drifted into your lane as you’re driving down the road, causing you to react and swerve into the next lane. Or, perhaps a driver slammed on their brakes for no apparent reason, causing you to have to brake suddenly and risk a rear-end collision behind you.

Of course, you should try to avoid colliding with other vehicles whenever possible for personal safety, but you may be stuck with a large bill for your own medicals even if you have uninsured motorist coverage if you avoid contact with the other vehicle. But what if, by swerving to avoid colliding with the negligent driver, you end up in a crash with another vehicle? Do you have legal options in these cases of no-contact collisions?

No-Contact Collisions Due To Swerve

Ideally, the driver who indirectly caused your accident may recognize what happened and pull over. This is good news, as you can gather their personal information to use for insurance purposes, such as their:

  • Name and contact information
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Car make, model, and year
  • Insurance information

But some no-contact accidents are not so simple. Many times, the negligent motorist will fail to recognize what happened and keep on driving after your crash. This person is what is known as a “phantom driver” because they disappear from the location of the accident. In Mississippi, if you avoided contact with the phantom driver, you cannot recover your uninsured motorist coverage because contact is required under the statute for a “phantom driver.”

In Tennessee, you can prove the existence of the “phantom driver” by clear and convincing evidence from outside of your vehicle. If you are able to meet that standard, you may have a claim against your uninsured motorist carrier. In either case you have to have uninsured motorist coverage and you are better off in either state with regard to being able to get a recovery from uninsured motorist coverage if you were not completely able to avoid contact.

These cases can be incredibly stressful and frustrating, as you may be left with injuries and damages that you know you didn’t cause. How do you prove it was the phantom driver’s fault and not yours?

Proving Liability & Seeking Compensation

The insurance company will need proof that you were not the one at fault for the accident. The steps you take after this type of collision are incredibly important. You should immediately:

  • Call 911
  • Seek immediate medical attention
  • Give a statement to police
  • Look for witnesses
  • Gather as much information as you can remember about the phantom driver’s vehicle and their physical appearance

Your insurance company will not likely treat you swerving to avoid another driver the same as if you were hit by an uninsured driver or involved in a hit-and-run accident. The insurance company will want proof that you were not the one who caused the accident.

In these cases, eyewitnesses statements are incredibly important, as well as possible video surveillance footage from nearby parking lots (or footage from a camera attached to your vehicle, if you have it).

Injured In An Accident?

You can take all the precautions needed to stay safe and still be injured in a crash caused by another driver. In the case this ever happens to you, remember that you are not alone. Our team of Mississippi car accident attorneys is here to stand in your corner and help you negotiate with the insurance company. This way, you have much better chances of receiving the full compensation you need to heal.

Contact Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman to schedule your free case evaluation.