You’re driving along and everything seems fine when suddenly, another vehicle jumps into your space, causing you to swerve. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get a major scare but sometimes you hit another car. Usually, the driver who kicked off this unfortunate chain of events drives away, leaving you and the other person to deal with the aftermath.
swerve and crash

When swerving causes you to crash it is known to insurance companies as a “no-contact” or a “phantom driver car accident” because no one hit you and, in most cases, the other driver didn't stop. If you were injured in this type of accident, you may wonder what you can do and how to proceed. The Dominguez Firm has created this page to respond to the most common questions we get regarding phantom driver accidents.

Please keep reading to find out your rights if you’re injured in an accident due to a phantom driver. And as always, call us for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818. The Dominguez Firm has over 30 years of experience handling these complex types of car accident cases. Put our know-how to work for you!

Can You Hold the Phantom Driver at Fault after Swerving to Avoid a Crash?

First, one important note; the phantom driver doesn’t have to hit your vehicle to be at fault. In California, holding a phantom driver at fault after swerving to avoid a crash can be challenging, because they rarely stop. But it's not impossible. If you were injured, you may have legal recourse even if you didn’t hit another vehicle. For example, if you were injured when a phantom driver ran you off the road, speak to a personal injury attorney right away. Do so even if no other vehicles were involved.

Here's what you should do if you’re injured due to a phantom driver:

  • Medical Treatment: Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, even if they seem minor at first. Your health should be your top priority.
  • Gather Information: Document as much as possible about the accident, such as the time, accident scene, road conditions, and any details about the phantom vehicle. If you’re able to get their license plate number, great. Even if you only have part of it, write that down.
  • File a Police Report: Report the incident to the police as soon as possible. A police report can serve as valuable evidence.
  • Eyewitness Information: If anyone saw the accident, get their information including, their name, phone number and email address.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Check if you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. As with a hit-and-run accident, it may help cover your injuries and damages even when the other driver is unknown.
  • Consult with an Accident Attorney: It's a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney specializing in challenging car accident claims, including those involving no-contact drivers. They can help you navigate the legal process, identify potential sources of compensation, and maximize your chances of recovery.

What is Contributory Negligence and How Does it Relate to a Phantom Driver Accident?

Contributory negligence is a legal idea that matters in personal injury cases, like those involving phantom driver accidents. Here's what it means:

Contributory Negligence:

Imagine you're hurt in an accident. Contributory negligence says if your actions had something to do with your injury, even if someone else messed up too, it could impact your compensation. Some states don’t even allow you to sue for your injuries if you’re over 50% to blame for your accident. However, in California, you can take legal action even if you were 99% to blame. Since your accident was caused by a phantom driver, you most likely won’t share over 50% of the blame except for some rare instances.

In a Phantom Driver Accident:

If you encountered a phantom driver, and you were forced to swerve suddenly, the other driver may try to blame you. This is why it’s so important to speak with a car accident lawyer immediately.

In phantom driver cases, it's crucial to talk to a personal injury lawyer who knows the ropes. They can look at your situation, investigate the incident, and figure out what percentage of the blame, if any you share. They do all of this to try and get you as much compensation as possible.

I Swerved to Avoid a Car Accident But Hit Another Car. Do I Share Any Fault For the Crash?

In California, when you swerve to avoid a car accident but end up hitting another car, assigning fault can be complicated. It depends on the specific circumstances of the situation.

Generally, the driver who causes an accident by acting negligently or breaking traffic laws is at fault. So, if you swerved to avoid an accident, but your swerving was reasonable and necessary to prevent a more serious collision, you may not be at fault.

However, it's crucial to consider all the details. If you swerved recklessly or if it created a new danger, you could be held partially or fully responsible for the accident. Determining fault can involve various factors, so it's a good idea to consult with a seasoned car accident attorney who can assess the specifics of your no-contact car accident case.

What Are My Rights if I Got Into an Accident to Avoid Hitting an Animal?

In California, if you swerve to avoid hitting an animal and end up in an accident, it's essential to understand your rights and responsibilities:

  • Duty to Avoid Collisions: California law requires drivers to take reasonable actions to avoid collisions, including with animals. Swerving to avoid hitting an animal is generally considered a responsible action.
  • Negligence Considerations: The circumstances of your needing to swerve to avoid hitting the animal will be taken into consideration.
  • Evidence and Witnesses: Gathering evidence and witness statements can be crucial. If you have witnesses who can vouch for your responsible driving, it can support your case.
  • Consult with an Attorney: If you had an accident after swerving to avoid an animal, it's advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process, ensuring you have the best chance of recovering damages.

If you swerved to avoid hitting an animal but hit a light pole or tree, for example, you would have to contact your insurance company regarding your coverage. Since no other drivers were involved, there’s no one to file a personal injury lawsuit against for your injuries.

Insurance companies consider hitting an animal as something that is out of your control. But you must have optional comprehensive coverage to cover your losses. Most drivers do have it but check your policy to make sure. And if you don’t have it, seriously consider adding it.

The specifics of your case will play a significant role in determining your rights and liability, so seeking legal advice is the best course of action.

Phantom Driver Accidents Can Happen to Anyone

Many of us take pride in being safe behind the wheel. Nonetheless, the unpredictable behavior of another driver can completely upend our lives. Usually, we only have several seconds to react when confronted with sudden, dangerous maneuvers.

Also, you don’t have to be in a car to suffer a no-contact driver accident. Those on motorcycles, bicycles and in trucks may have to swerve due to a reckless driver, often with disastrous consequences. If you were injured in a phantom driver accident, you have rights, regardless of the type of vehicle you were operating.

Contact The Dominguez Firm Today

No-contact or phantom driver accidents are frustrating because there’s usually no one to hold accountable. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any legal options. If you suffered serious injuries due to that driver’s bad driving, speak to a Dominguez Firm personal injury lawyer experienced in these complex car accident cases.

We are a full-service law firm with the resources to conduct a thorough investigation of your phantom car accident. This includes access to any nearby security camera footage, quick access to your accident police report and our accident experts. We can reconstruct the circumstances of your car accident and present a strong case on your behalf.

Call us for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818. We work on a contingency basis, which means you pay us a percentage of your settlement or verdict amount. You don’t have to worry about any legal fees, hidden costs or out-of-pocket expenses. You can afford to hire The Dominguez Firm, so call us now!

My experience was good. They made sure to kept me in the loop and made sure to let me know what was going on the whole time. My mom has used other attorneys and this experience was beyond better. I would definitely recommend them!

— Ashley Magana

The attorneys were always available and answered my questions. I would recommend them to anyone. Zoe is the best!

— Janet Salazar

My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.

— Jocelyn Gonzalez