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No-contact car accidents: Protect yourself with these steps

The odds are actually good that you'll someday be involved in what's known as a "no-contact" accident.

That's the type of car accident where you're suddenly forced to swerve off the road to avoid hitting another driver. You may end up hitting a guardrail or you may end up in ditch, for example, after swerving to avoid a driver who merged into your lane without looking. It's called a "no-contact" accident because you never make contact with the other car.

You may even suffer serious injuries from the force of your own car as it goes off the road (whether it hits anything or not). If you do, you have the right to ask for injury compensation -- although these cases can be difficult to pursue on your own.

In many cases, the other driver never stops. Some may be genuinely oblivious to the havoc they caused -- but most are simply eager to put a few miles between themselves and the accident they caused because they know the odds are good that they won't get caught. That will likely force you to file your claim against your own insurance company -- similar to the way that you would in an accident with an uninsured or under-insured motorist.

To maximize your chances of a successful claim, take the following steps immediately after any no-contact accident:

  • Try to snap a photo of the other car: If the other driver stops at all, don't assume that he or she is staying. Some drivers only stop because they haven't yet decided to flee. If you don't seem seriously injured, the driver may take off again. Grab your cellphone and take a few quick photos of the other car.
  • Call the police as soon as possible: Call 911 and ask for someone to respond to the accident scene. You want to give the responding officer as much information as possible about the other car while it is still fresh in your mind.
  • Ask eyewitnesses to give their statements: If anyone else stopped because they saw the accident, make sure that you get their name and contact information. This can reduce the chances that you'll be blamed later by the insurance company for your own wreck.

Many insurance companies hesitate to pay these kinds of claims because they suspect drivers of fabricating the tale of a phantom driver -- but persistence pays.

Source: thebalance.com, "Car Accident after Being Run Off the Road by Another Driver," Emily DelBridge, accessed June 14, 2018

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