What Are Phantom Vehicles? Miss-and-Runs in Missouri Law

Phantom vehicle accidents, often called miss-and-runs, are a unique type of accident on Missouri roadways. Unlike traditional hit-and-run accidents, where a vehicle flees the scene after colliding with another vehicle, phantom vehicles cause accidents without physical contact before disappearing into traffic.

Even without hitting the other vehicle, phantom cars can force drivers off the road or into stationary objects like poles or guardrails. This can leave victims with lasting injuries and high medical bills.

If you’re hurt in a phantom vehicle accident, contact a Missouri auto accident lawyer at Cofman Townsley to help you understand your rights. We can help you seek compensation for your injuries through your uninsured motorists’ insurance (UM) policy.

What Is a Miss-and-Run?

A miss-and-run occurs when a vehicle triggers an accident without making direct contact with the victim’s vehicle. These incidents typically occur when a car suddenly changes lanes, swerves, or engages in reckless driving, leading to another vehicle being forced off the road or colliding with a stationary object.

Following the incident, the phantom vehicle flees the scene, often leaving victims injured and in a state of shock. Leaving the accident scene is illegal in Missouri despite the absence of physical contact and can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges if the driver is located.

A miss-and-run is different from a traditional hit-and-run. In a hit-and-run, the involved vehicles make contact, leaving behind physical evidence such as paint transfer or vehicle debris. A miss-and-run involves no physical contact, making it far more challenging to identify the fleeing vehicle and its driver.

Collecting Evidence in Phantom Vehicle Incidents

One of the biggest challenges in miss-and-run cases is collecting sufficient evidence to prove the accident happened and identifying the responsible party. If you’re involved in a miss-and-run, you should take proactive steps to report the incident and gather all possible evidence.

  • Report the Incident: The first step for victims involved in a miss-and-run is to report the incident to the local authorities. Missouri requires you to report any accident involving an uninsured motorist or results in injury, death, or $500 in property damage.
  • Witness Testimonies: Eyewitness accounts are invaluable in miss-and-run cases. Collecting detailed witness statements can help reconstruct the accident and potentially identify the fleeing vehicle.
  • Surveillance Footage: Surveillance cameras at traffic intersections, businesses, or private residences can capture crucial evidence. Your attorney can canvass nearby areas to obtain footage showing the phantom vehicle.
  • Expert Reconstruction: Your legal team can work with accident reconstruction experts to analyze available evidence and recreate the incident. This provides valuable insights into the cause of the crash and potentially the identity of the phantom vehicle.

The Role of Insurance in Miss-and-Runs

In a typical car accident case in Missouri, drivers can file a claim with the at-fault party through liability insurance. The state requires all motorists to carry $50,000 in coverage to pay for injuries in a crash they cause. But tracking down an at-fault driver in a miss-and-run can be difficult or impossible.

Fortunately, Missouri also requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, with at least $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 per accident. This protects you in accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists, including miss-and-runs.

UM coverage typically offers the following compensation:

  • Medical Expenses: Hospital stays, surgeries, and other medical treatment costs
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to inability to work following an accident
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical and emotional distress caused by the accident
  • Long-Term Care Needs: Coverage for ongoing medical care or rehabilitation needed due to the accident
  • Funeral Costs: Expenses related to funeral services if the accident results in the death of a loved one

Our attorneys at Cofman Townsley can help you understand your policy’s coverage after a miss-and-run crash and file a claim for full compensation.

Protect Your Rights After a Miss-and-Run Accident

Phantom vehicle accidents can be a scary experience, especially if you have been left with serious injuries. Our legal team at Cofman Townsley understands Missouri’s auto insurance policies and accident laws, and we can help you recover compensation.

Contact us today for a free consultation to explore the next steps for your case.