How Accident Lawyers Deal with Hit and Run or Phantom Vehicle Cases

Hit and run and phantom vehicle cases can be a challenge for Maryland accident lawyers. But good lawyers can obtain compensation for their clients in the vast majority of cases.

In Maryland, if you are injured in an accident as the result of the negligence of a hit-and-run driver, you can still recover for your medical bills, lost income from work, and pain and suffering damages as if the driver had been identified by bringing an uninsured motorist claim or lawsuit pursuant to your own car insurance policy. Maryland law treats an unknown negligent driver as it would for a known uninsured driver for purposes of the injury victim’s uninsured motorist policy.

With respect to phantom vehicles – those vehicles that cause an accident but then drive away before then can be identified – some states require physical contact with the phantom vehicle for the injury victim to make an uninsured motorist claim. Maryland law, however, does not require physical contact. If the insurance company has policy language to the contrary, Maryland courts will ignore the language.

Who Can I Sue When I'm in an Accident Involving a Phantom Vehicle in Maryland?

You can sue your own insurance carrier in Maryland when an accident involving a phantom vehicle if the driver of that vehicle negligently caused the crash.

Under Maryland law, insured drivers have protection against injuries caused by uninsured motorists. This includes “hit-and-run” drivers and “phantom” vehicles whose identity is not known. Some states require “physical contact” between the victim and the unidentified vehicle. Maryland law does not require physical contact.

So even if the insurance policy says physical contact is required, Maryland law would invalidate that provision because it is not a requirement for recovery against a phantom tortfeasor.

How Can I Make a Claim Against the Uninsured Division for an Unidentified Motorist?

Section 20-601 of the insurance code sets out the conditions that must be met to recover against the Uninsured Division based on a claim involving an unidentified motorist.

(1) no insurance applies and there is an injury, death, or property damage over $250

(2) the claimant cannot be the personal representative of the person driving or riding in the uninsured vehicle

(3) the identity of the motor vehicle and of its driver and owner cannot be established  or the identity of the individual who was driving the motor vehicle cannot be established and it is established that, at the time of the accident, the motor vehicle was in the possession of an individual other than the owner without the owner’s consent

(4) the claimant has a cause of action against the driver or owner of the motor vehicle,

(5) all reasonable efforts to establish the identity of the motor vehicle and of its owner and driver are unsuccessful, and

(6) at the time of the accident, the claimant was not driving a motor vehicle with a certificate of registration that was suspended, canceled, or revoked, or was holding a driver’s license that was suspended, canceled, or revoked.

Is making a claim against the Uninsured Division in Maryland hard?  It is hard.