Car accidents are, unfortunately, a very common occurrence. However, most car accidents do not involve personal injury, meaning that no one was hurt during the accident -- instead, these types of accidents usually result in property damage only. Victims of car accidents may be compensated for property damage and for their personal injury, if applicable. Each state has different car accident compensation laws.
This article provides a brief overview of car accident compensation laws in the state of Maine.
Maine Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
The table below lays out other important aspects of Maine's car accident compensation laws.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
"Fault" and "Modified Comparative Fault" Rules Apply
To bring a successful claim in Maine, an injured party must first prove that another driver was at fault. This is because Maine employs the "fault" system of car accident liability. Not only must an injured party prove that another driver is at fault for their injuries, but in Maine, an injured party must prove that they were less than 50% at fault. This is known as the "modified comparative negligence" rule.
Courts use this rule to permit parties who are partially responsible for their own injuries to recover their damages in part, while at the same time protecting parties who were partially at fault from liability. For example, under the modified comparative negligence rule, a party who suffered $10,000 in damages but was 80% at fault would recover nothing, while a party who suffered $10,000 in damages but was only 20% at fault would recover $8,000.
Types of Damages Allowed in Maine
Car accident damages generally fall into one of two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are money damages and include the cost to repair your vehicle, the cost to rent a replacement vehicle while your car is being repaired, any medical costs you might incur, and lost wages from time away from work.
Non-economic damages are the harder-to-calculate losses you or a loved one might suffer and include the loss of affection or companionship, emotional distress, and disfigurement.
Typical car accident damages include:
- Hospital expenses
- Lost income
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Pain and suffering
Limits on Damages in Maine
Parties injured in Maine will be relieved to hear that Maine has no state-imposed limits on the amount of damages you can receive in personal injury or car accident cases. Maine also has an especially long time limit on how long a driver may wait before filing suit to recover damages (the statute of limitations). For most personal injury and property damage cases, the limit in Maine is six years.
However, if the car accident resulted in a death, Maine does cap damages on wrongful death cases at $500,000 for compensatory damages and $250,000 for punitive damages. Additionally, the time limit is much shorter: wrongful death actions must be brought within two years of the person's death.
Have Specific Questions About Maine Car Accident Compensation Laws? Ask a Lawyer
While the long statute of limitations on personal injury and property damage lawsuits protects injured parties, the modified comparative negligence system can prevent you from recovering if you were equally liable in a car accident. Additionally, the caveat in the property damage time limit could cut short the time you have to file a lawsuit.
For these reasons, it's a good idea to contact a local car accident attorney today to find out the strength of your claim and get help with the process of filing your lawsuit.