Accident victims sometimes suffer serious injuries in car crashes that are caused by the fault of another driver who flees the scene before being identified. Sometimes this involves an unknown driver who has no idea that their actions have caused the crash.
This can happen to an accident victim who is fully aware that another unidentified driver caused the collision. However, some accident victims who have suffered brain injuries or psychological injuries may have no recollection of what happened and may have no idea that another driver has caused their crash. Some of the unidentified driver cases involve drivers that die in what appear to be unexplained single vehicle crashes.
In any case involving injuries caused by the use or operation of an automobile the injured individual will have access to certain benefits from an automobile insurer whether or not any driver is discovered to be at-fault. However, additional and more complete compensation may be recovered in a lawsuit against any identified at-fault drivers. This additional compensation may still be recovered in a lawsuit even if the accident victim cannot identify an at-fault driver. In such a case, the victim may be able to make a claim against his or her own automobile insurer under an unidentified driver policy. This claim for unidentified driver coverage is made as if the claim was being made against the unidentified driver personally.
This type of unidentified driver claim may be made even where there are no witnesses or where there is no proof of direct contact between the vehicle of the victim and the at-fault driver. Where accident victims allege the involvement of an unidentified driver or vehicle, their own evidence must be corroborated or supported by other evidence. With or without witnesses, it is possible to use physical evidence from the scene, from the known vehicle(s) and even accident reconstruction and engineering data. Evidence of skid marks, tire tracks on snow or gravel surfaces, and other physical evidence on the scene will deteriorate in the hours, days and weeks after the crash depending on the weather and traffic conditions. Other evidence, such as private surveillance images kept by surrounding property owners, may also be available for only a short period of time.
Often the police investigation of a crash may be quite minimal unless someone dies in the crash. The possibility of claims for the actions of unidentified drivers makes corroborating evidence very important for cases involving unexplained single vehicle crashes and unidentified drivers. Accident victims and their families should discuss the circumstances of these crashes with a lawyer as soon as possible so that crucial witnesses and other physical evidence are not lost.