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At least ten accidents snarled Interstate 5 on Halloween. Troopers suspect that a tanker truck from a local refinery leaking oil on the southbound lanes of the Interstate as it drove through Bellingham.

Troopers were investigating the source of the spill Friday evening by checking with the refineries to determine which had tankers depart around the time of the spill and whether or not those tankers had delivered their loads.

If the driver of the tanker is identified, claims can be made against him and/or his employer. However, if authorities are unable to identify the driver, injured motorists can make claims under the little publicized "phantom vehicle" coverage under the UM (uninsured motorist) portions of their motor vehicle insurance.

However, they must file a police report within a short period of time (usually 72 hours) of the accident. If they don’t, the coverage they’ve paid for year after year will evaporate. It’s also important to remember that once UM coverage is implicated, the insurance company that’s collected premiums from you for years will become your adversary. In a case that we just won (at a private trail (and recovered almost 100 percent more than the UM/UIM carrier last offered) the client’s own insurance company argued that he was responsible for his own injuries even though he was hit while standing in a cross walk.

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