Not all motor vehicle accidents involve two vehicles physically hitting one another; even so, one driver could still be held liable for another’s injuries. If the other vehicle is at fault for your injuries but did not actually hit your vehicle, this is referred to as a “no-contact” accident. You could still collect compensation for any injuries and property damage you experience as a result.
Accidents Without Physical Contact
A car that causes an accident, but does not actually hit your vehicle, is no less responsible than one that physically strikes your vehicle. In order to hold the driver liable for their actions, however, you will need to be able to identify the driver and vehicle, then prove that they caused your accident. This is typically accomplished through witness statements or video surveillance.
What if You Cannot Find or Identify the Other Driver?
In most no-contact accidents, victims are unable to identify the other driver or vehicle involved. If this is the case for you, uninsured motorist coverage from your own auto insurance policy would take over. You are required by law to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Florida (see Florida Statute 627.727). This coverage is used when drivers do not have auto insurance or when the other driver cannot be located, such as in a no-contact or hit-and-run accident.
The uninsured coverage portion of your auto insurance plan will cover aspects like medical expenses and property damage. You will need to read the details of your own auto insurance policy for any special requirements when utilizing this coverage. For example, some insurers may require that you have a corroborating witness in order to use your coverage.
Missing Witness Issues
No-contact accidents are difficult to prove, which is why some insurance policies will require a corroborating witness. The witness’s statements will prove whether or not the accident really occurred and if there was an unidentified vehicle that caused the accident. A corroborating witness can be someone who:
- Was involved in the accident,
- Was passing by when it happened, or
- Was observing the accident close by.
Some policies may state that the corroborating witness must be an independent third party; if so, your own passengers may not be able to serve as witnesses.
If you do not have a corroborating witness, you may still be able to utilize your coverage. Because Florida requires no-fault insurance coverage, you may be limited in the amount of compensation received from the policy. If your injuries or damages are severe, you will be unable to claim more unless your policy allows you to do so.