Sometimes, individuals that do not carry automobile insurance coverage (because they do not drive) are injured by an uninsured motorist or “phantom vehicle.” The Maryland legislature has created a special fund to compensate these victims. In certain circumstances, it may be possible to make a claim against this government-managed fund when a person has been injured (or his or her property has been damaged) by the negligent act or omission of an uninsured motorist or a motorist that has fled the scene of the collision and cannot be identified.
When someone is struck by a “phantom vehicle,” the injured person must demonstrate that he or she has made all “reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the motor vehicle and the owner/operator of the motor vehicle that stuck him or her, but was unsuccessful. What constitutes “reasonable efforts” is determined on a case by case basis, but Maryland courts have historically applied a much heightened standard. Generally speaking, “reasonable efforts” are the same efforts that one would expect an injured person to make if he or she knew there would be zero recovery unless he or she actually located the driver of the phantom vehicle. These efforts may include, but certainly are not limited to, interviewing all available witnesses, searching the surrounding area for the vehicle, publishing a notice in a local paper and/or hiring a private investigator.
When someone is struck by a disappearing motorist or phantom vehicle, it is imperative that swift action is taken to properly preserve the rights an injured party may have. For that reason, it is important to hire an experienced trial attorney that is familiar with the statutory rules for pursuing a recovery against the fund and who has the resources to make “all reasonable efforts” to obtain the identity of the phantom vehicle.
If you have been injured by the negligence of a disappearing driver, please contact an experienced attorney at www.silvermanthompson.com for a free consultation.