“Phantom vehicle” is a term that refers to a vehicle that causes personal injury or property damage without making any physical contact with the person or car. Accidents involving phantom vehicles may be problematic when filing a claim with your insurance company, as illustrated in a June 18, 2020 Maryland injury case.
The plaintiff in the case was stopped in his car at a red light, when his vehicle was struck from behind by a car driven by the defendant. The plaintiff brought a personal injury claim against the defendant, seeking damages of $25,000. The plaintiff also filed a claim for uninsured motorist benefits against his own insurer, arguing that his auto policy covered damages caused by a phantom vehicle that did not remain at the scene of an accident, as alleged by the defendant in the case.
In a hearing before the trial, the defendant admitted that she caused the accident, eliminating any possibility that the jury would find that a phantom vehicle caused the accident. On the morning of trial, the court severed the plaintiff’s claims against his insurance company, so that those claims would be decided in a separate trial. As such, the only issue for the jury to decide at trial was the amount of damages that the defendant caused to the plaintiff. The jury returned a verdict awarding damages of $1,560. Because that amount was within the liability limits of the defendant’s insurance policy, the court entered a directed verdict in favor of the insurance company on the plaintiff’s remaining claims. The plaintiff then appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.