Aside from its world famous lobster, Maine is also known for its scenic views along rocky coastlines and waterways. Residents and tourists enjoy the heavy forested areas that are covered by white pine and spruce. But imagine getting into a car accident in the middle of a scenic drive. What do you do? Who do you call? Do you need to hire a lawyer? If you have been in an accident in the state, learn about the Maine car accident settlement process and timeline to better protect your rights.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Maine?
Yes, in some cases. You must immediately report an accident by the quickest means of communication (e.g., by phone) to a state police officer or deputy sheriff if your accident results in:
- Bodily injury or death
- Apparent property damage of $1,000 or more
Maine Car Insurance Laws
Maine requires every driver to hold the following coverages: (1) liability insurance, (2) medical payments coverage, and (3) uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
For the liability insurance, you must meet the minimum amounts:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- $100,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident, if multiple people were injured
- $25,000 for property damage
For medical payments coverage, you must hold a minimum of $2,000 of medical payments coverage on your car insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for expenses of your family members or your passengers who were hurt while in your car.
If you fail to maintain these minimum requirements, you may be fined and/or get your license suspended.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Maine?
Maine follows the traditional "fault" system when it comes to car accidents and insurance laws. A person who is at fault for the accident is financially responsible for damages and injuries. If you got injured because of someone else's fault, you have the following options: (1) file a claim under your own insurance policy, (2) file a claim directly with the other driver's insurance company, or (3) file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver who is at fault.
Generally, if you file a claim with an insurance company, it will open an investigation of your claim and calculate the amount of damages. It will either deny your claim or issue you a settlement check. If you believe that the amount of settlement check is inadequate or had your claim denied, you can appeal it to the claims supervisor.
If you cannot resolve a dispute with your insurance company, you can file a complaint with the Maine Bureau of Insurance online or by mail. The Bureau will investigate your complaint and determine if the insurance company acted in compliance with Maine laws. Keep in mind that the Bureau does not make liability decisions nor can it force insurance companies to do something if no laws have been violated.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Maine?
Most car accident cases don't go all the way to a court hearing, but are instead usually resolved through an insurance claim or during settlement negotiations. There is no set formula to calculate the damages, but the most common damages in a car accident cases are: medical expenses, car repair, lost wages due to missed work, and pain and suffering.
Some car accident cases involve shared fault. In Maine, you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for your own injuries, as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault. This rule is called "modified comparative negligence," which is applied to Maine car accident cases. For example, if you were 10 percent at fault, and the other driver was 90 percent at fault, then you will recover 90 percent of the total amount of damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Maine?
In Maine, you have 6 years to bring a lawsuit for both personal property and personal injury (except in cases of assault, battery, or false imprisonment). The clock starts ticking from the date of the accident. Once this time period is over, you won't be able to file a claim to recover damages you suffered. Thus, it is important to pay attention to this deadline and consult an experienced attorney to determine if you have a viable case or not.
Get Legal Help With Maine's Car Accident Settlement Process
If a car accident is minor and there's no dispute, the case can be easily handled and resolved by an insurance company. However, if the other driver is blaming you for the accident or if the insurance company is underestimating the damages, you should consider meeting with an experienced Maine accident attorney in your area.