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.

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