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Phantom Vehicles in Florida Injury Cases

Car accidents are never easy to deal with. Individuals who get into accidents often have to deal with repairing their vehicles, dealing with their insurance companies, and in some cases dealing with their injuries. Ascertaining fault can be challenging in any case but especially difficult when a phantom vehicle is involved. In these situations, the help of a qualified Miami attorney can make all the difference in your case. Robert Dixon has helped many South Florida clients understand their rights and get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
A phantom vehicle refers to a vehicle that causes injury, death, or damage without making physical contact. Essentially, the term is used in the insurance industry to describe a vehicle that leaves the scene of the crime and is unidentified. The presence of a phantom automobile can make it very difficult to determine fault. It can also be a challenge to show that the phantom vehicle existed. Most uninsured motorist insurance policies will give customers coverage if they have been injured due to a phantom vehicle. However, there are often strict procedures about how a phantom vehicle claim can be pursued. Some of these procedures require filing immediately after the accident in a very short time frame.

In Millsaps v. Kaltenbach, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against another driver, claiming that he was the cause of the accident that led to her injuries. The defendant answered and invoked an affirmative defense that he was attempting to avoid a collision with a third automobile when he hit the plaintiff’s car, and thus he did use reasonable care in the situation. The plaintiff eventually changed her complaint to reflect the negligence of the phantom driver and added a statement for uninsured motorist compensation under those facts. She later dropped that claim.

The trial court entered a directed verdict on the issue. The plaintiff voiced no objection. Ultimately, the court told the jury to think through the negligence of the phantom driver merely as an affirmative defense to the negligence claim against the driver, with no protest from the plaintiff.

The jury determined that the defendant was not at all negligent. The plaintiff filed a motion requesting a new trial, which was denied. On appeal, the court held that the plaintiff had basically let go of her claim for uninsured motorist benefits on the grounds of the phantom driver’s negligence when she stated on the record that she did not want to move forward with that particular claim. Additionally, the plaintiff failed to object to the directed verdict and the jury instructions. For these reasons, the district court affirmed.

Phantom vehicle claims can be extremely tricky, which is why having a qualified Miami car accident attorney assess the merits of your case can be extremely worthwhile. If you or someone you know is dealing with the aftermath of a car wreck, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Robert Dixon has helped a number of South Florida clients and can help you too. To learn all your legal options, do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

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