A new Jury Verdict Research study based on data from the past ten years offers information on plaintiffs’ recovery in phantom auto accident cases. Phantom cases are generally uninsured motorist cases where there is no contact between the negligent driver’s car the injury victim. In most phantom cases, the defendant’s vehicle is unidentified (thus the nickname “phantom”). In these auto accidents, the plaintiff almost invariably must make an evasive move because of the defendant’s negligent driving and is either forced off the road or into another vehicle or object as a result.
The recent study shows not only that 51 percent of these plaintiffs receive an award, but it also breaks down where on the spectrum the values of the awards fall. Nearly one-half of the damages awarded in these cases fall somewhere between $10,000 to $100,000, with one-quarter of the cases winning awards between $10,000 and $25,000. Although most cases fall somewhere in the middle, there is a substantial number that falls into one of the two extremes. While 11 percent of all no contact cases were awarded less than $2,500, 8 percent received damages exceeding a quarter of a million dollars. The study goes farther than offering just the award median ($21,441) and provides a more useful breakdown of the plaintiffs’ recovery in these types of cases.
Phantom auto accident cases are tough and easy for the plaintiffs’ lawyer at the same time. The best part is there is rarely a witness to refute the plaintiff. The tough part is there are a lot of single-car accidents and every single car accident without a witness can potentially be fabricated into a phantom accident case. In the end, the entire trial becomes about the plaintiff’s credibility.