Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The phantom driver!

You are driving along, minding your own business, when out of nowhere a car slams into you; running you off the road and into a ditch. You didn't even get a good look at them before they zoomed off, never to be seen again.
Think it couldn’t happen to you? You might be surprised to learn that close to 11% of all accident reports to police, are hit and run incidents. People are all too willing to run from the scene in hopes that they can avoid responsibility. In many cases the driver is intoxicated, uninsured, or otherwise in trouble with the law.

If this happens to you the first thing you should do (other than seek medical attention if needed) is contact the police. Make a report and provide as much detail about the other vehicle as possible. In some cases the police can track the driver down. The driver may be charged with the Class A Misdemeanor of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” and could see a substantial fine, loss of license, and even jail time.


However, catching the driver doesn’t always help, and in some cases the driver has vanished, leaving you with medical bills and damage; or have they? You have encountered the phantom driver, and in the state of Missouri this accident may be covered on your uninsured motorist’s policy, even if you don’t know who the driver is.

 RSMo 379.203 states:

1. No automobile liability insurance covering liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto, or in the case of any commercial motor vehicle, as defined in section 301.010, any employer having a fleet of five or more passenger vehicles, such coverage is offered therein or supplemental thereto, in not less than the limits for bodily injury or death set forth in section 303.030, for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, resulting therefrom. Such legal entitlement exists although the identity of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle cannot be established because such owner or operator and the motor vehicle departed the scene of the occurrence occasioning such bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, before identification. It also exists whether or not physical contact was made between the uninsured motor vehicle and the insured or the insured's motor vehicle. Provisions affording such insurance protection against uninsured motorists issued in this state prior to October 13, 1967, shall, when afforded by any authorized insurer, be deemed, subject to the limits prescribed in this section, to satisfy the requirements of this section.
If you have been the victim of a hit and run, even if you don’t know who the driver is, you may want to contact an attorney to learn more about your legal rights under your insurance policy. Contact Joel T. Harris at Harris Law to learn more and set up a free consultation.

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