Motorcycle Accident Caused by “Phantom Vehicle”

  • A husband and wife were riding their motorcycle on a rural highway along the scenic Hood Canal. The husband was driving and the wife was on the back as a pasenger.
  • Suddenly a large SUV pulled out of a parking lot onto the highway directly in front of them. The husband had to lay the motorcycle down on the right side to keep from hitting the SUV head-on. They were traveling at about 45 mph.
  • The SUV then left the scene of the accident before anyone could record any identifying information.
  • The situation at the scene looked grim. One witness stated that as he ran to their aid he thought he would find two dead bodies. This witness was taking a smoking break from the nearby Farmer’s Market and saw the entire accident.
  • Ambulances were called and both husband and wife were taken to the nearest emergency room.
  • At the ER it was determined that the wife had injuries to her lower back, right wrist, right hip, right knee and right ankle. She had multiple abrassions to the right knee, leg and ankle and contusions to the abdomen and back.
  • The husband was found to have multiple rib fractures and injuries to the right scapula, chest wall, abdomen, pelvis, right shoulder, right arm, right elbow and right hip.
  • After several hours in the hospital it was determined that they were both stablized and they were discharged with instructions to seek follow-up medical with their primary care physicians.
  • It was later determined that the wife had a torn tendon in her right shoulder and a torn meniscus in her right knee.
  • She tried conservative treatment with physical therapy for several weeks but it soon became apparent that her shoulder required surgical repair.
  • She underwent shoulder surgery for the torn tendon.
  • About a month later she had arthroscopic surgery on her knee.
  • The husband continued with conservative follow-up care. Broken ribs are very painful but there is little that can be done medically to hasten recovery.
  • He suffered from these painful fractures for several weeks where even breathing can cause sharp pains.
  • Since there was no physical contact between the injured parties or their motorcycle and the SUV that caused the accident, the “Phantom Vehicle” provision became relevant.
  • Under Washington law, a “phantom vehicle” is a motor vehicle that causes bodily injury, death, or property damage to an insured but has no physical contact with the insured or the vehicle which the insured is occupying at the time of the accident. If however:
  • (a) The facts of the accident can be corroborated by competent evidence other than the testimony of the insured or any person having an underinsured motorist claim resulting from the accident; and
  • (b) The accident has been reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency within seventy-two hours of the accident; then
  • (c) Recovery can be obtained under the uninsured motorist provision of the injured party’s policy.
  • Unfortunately, the State Patrol Officer who investigated the accident did not obtain the names of any witnesses who actually saw the accident. She only recorded one name on her report, and that person was a nurse who had come to aid the injured parties, but who had not witnessed the accident.
  • However, the law firm of MartinLaw, PLLC immediately investigated the accident and located the witness who was taking a smoking break at the Farmer’s Market, and recorded his statement. This enabled the husband and wife to recover a substantial six-figure settlement from the underinsured provision of their own insurance policy. Without this effort by MartinLaw PLLC they would have recovered nothing due to the “Phantom Vehicle” provision.
  • To learn more on how the law firm of MartinLaw PLLC and attorney Chuck Martin will handle your car accident case please click on the car accident page.

Safety Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents


The fun and freedom of taking your motorbike on the open road is what keeps many devoted cycle fans on the road.  Make sure your experience is not affected by a terrible accident and take some precautions to keep yourself safe as you share the road with motorists.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 34,000 motorcyclists were killed between 2001-2008 in the U.S., and approximately 1.2 million were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal injuries related to motorcycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2006, the rate for fatal crashes involving a motorcycle was 72.34 in every 100,000 motorcycles, versus the rate of fatal car accidents, which was 13.1 in every 100,000 cars.

Start your safe driving practices with appropriate safety gear; it is the only thing between you and the road.

  • Helmet – D.O.T. Approved
  • Eye protection such as a face shield or safety glasses
  • Leather footwear with over the ankle protection and low heels
  • Long pants of denim or comparable durability
  • Long sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Full fingered leather gloves

Before you even get on your bike, be sure you are completely drug and alcohol free for your safety and that of everyone else on the road.

Here are some important safety tips to follow to avoid motorcycle accidents…

Take a quick walk around your bike to evaluate your bike’s condition.  Be on top of possible broken parts, maintain controls and proper oil changes on schedule, as well as check the chain, suspension, tires, signals working and proper tire pressure.

Be seen, be heard.  Lights on and use your horn if signs of danger are imminent.

Ride smooth.  That is to say to keep throttle use consistent and even steering pressure and acceleration. Smooth riding will not only give you better gas mileage and reduce wear and tear on your bike, but it makes it easier for other drivers to see you better and anticipate where you will be.

Always be aware of where you are in relationship to other drivers, including what is happening with oncoming traffic.

Keep a clear line of sight and travel path. If you can’t see as well due to weather, darkness, or curvy roads, slow down to be prepared for what lies ahead.

Allow extra space and time to adjust yourself to other motorists’ movements.

Travel in the part of the lane where you are most visible.

Always use your signals for lane changes, drive as if you are invisible and assume other drivers can’t see you: Ride particularly defensively.

Check left front, right, then left again before proceeding through an intersection. Know what hazards may await you and be prepared to adjust.

Always check your rearview mirror before reducing your speed.  Slowing down too quickly when a car is on your tail can put you at serious risk.

Allow for a 2-4 second following distance. If it is night or any weather conditions, increase that to 4-8 seconds to allow for the best cushion for safety.

Pay attention to turns and curves. They pay a significant role in the majority of motorcycle accidents due to rider error.

Know where driver’s blind spots are and take care not to ride in them.

The far left lane is usually the safest lane due to less vehicles merging from that side.

Also pay attention to highway exits that are on the left, as cars will be merging to exit and entering the highway occasionally from the left also.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is committed to promoting safe driving and rider education nationwide. MSF can connect you with motorcycle safety classes near you.

Their site has a free library with great resources and tips. Check it out!

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and you are not at fault, contact us at Martin Law, PLLC for a free case evaluation.

Charles Martin, Marin Law LLC
Call for a free consultation 206-684-9468