“Phantom” Driver Implicated in Accident With Fatalities

Car Accidents

An unidentified or “phantom” driver is reported to have caused April Gallon to take an evasive maneuver resulting in an accident that killed both of her daughters, aged 10 and 12, on December 28, 2016.  Kayla Johnson (age 10) and Jasmin Johnson (age 12) died of injuries sustained in the accident while Ms. Gallon was taken to a hospital for treatment.  The accident happened Wednesday afternoon on North Orange Blossom Trail when the unknown vehicle suddenly pulled in front of Ms. Gallon.  Thereafter, Ms. Gallon’s vehicle veered across the center median and into oncoming traffic from the opposite direction.  Her vehicle was hit by a vehicle going the opposite direction.

First Party Insurance Benefits Likely To Be Only Insurance

PIP or no-fault benefits and UM/UIM benefits are likely to be the only applicable insurance benefits for this accident.  There is a $5,000 death benefit payable on each child plus $10,000 in no-fault benefits for Ms. Gallon’s injuries.  These payments will come from Ms. Gallon’s own insurance company.

No Liability For Gallon And Other Driver

It is difficult to second guess the actions of Ms. Gallon in taking evasive action to avoid a collision with the so-called “phantom” driver.  While her evasive move may not have needed to be so extreme, she only needs to have acted “reasonably” under the circumstances to avoid liability for comparative fault under Florida law.  A jury is likely to sympathize with her on this point should this case go to a trial.

While we didn’t choose the phrase “phantom driver” to refer to an unidentified or unknown driver, some insurance policies and Florida case law call them “phantom” in several cases involving uninsured motorist coverage (UM or UIM).  In Florida, your uninsured motorist coverage defines a vehicle that cannot be identified or is unknown as an “uninsured motorist.”  Therefore, if Ms. Gallon purchased uninsured motorist’s coverage on her automobile policy, then she can make a claim for her own injuries and the wrongful deaths of her two children.  The driver or owner of the “phantom vehicle” may be held legally responsible if they can be found.  However, without damage from a collision, it is unlikely that the vehicle will be found because it cannot be definitively identified.  For that matter, the driver of the other vehicle may not be aware of the crash or may not believe that their actions had anything to do with causing the crash.

Talk To Us About An Uninsured Motorist’s Claim

If you have been injured in an accident involving a driver without insurance, please contact an uninsured motorist attorney in Central Florida for a free case review.  We can help you review your insurance policy and to help you determine whether you have a basis for a legal claim.  Call us today to find out.


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December 29, 2016