Who Pays For Car Accident Compensation In Maine?
The claims process explained by an experienced auto accident attorney
If you've been involved in an auto accident in Maine, you're likely looking at a complex process to get compensated for your injuries and property damage. As a free service to our users, we are proud to offer this guide to the process of getting compensation for a Maine car accident. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has handled thousands of these claims, and we know how the process works backward and forward.
Maine is a "fault" car insurance state
Like most states, Maine uses the traditional "fault" system to determine how injured people can be compensated after a car accident. Essentially, responsibility for damages (financial compensation) for any losses sustained in an accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and other costs, falls on the driver who is legally at fault for the accident.
There are three ways for someone injured in an auto accident to seek compensation under Maine law:
- Filing a claim under the victim's own auto insurance policy.
- Filing a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
- Filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Benefits From Your Own Insurance Company
Maine is one of a few states that require insured drivers to purchase medical payments coverage, or MedPay. This is a type of coverage on your own insurance policy that pays for medical expenses arising from an accident in which you were involved.
Normally, MedPay covers anyone who was injured in an accident while riding in or driving in your insured vehicle, including you, family members and other passengers. MedPay also usually covers you and your family members if you are injured in an accident while passengers in someone else's vehicle.
It's often recommended to carry enough MedPay coverage to cover your health insurance deductible, if you have one, so that you will be able to get the care you need without out-of-pocket costs while waiting for your claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company to be resolved. However, MedPay is quite limited in terms of how much coverage is provided - the minimum in Maine is $2,000 - and in terms of the expenses it covers, since it only provides compensation for medical expenses.
If your vehicle has collision coverage, your insurance carrier should pay for repairs or a replacement vehicle if your vehicle is considered a total loss. Your collision policy may include a deductible, but the deductible is normally waived if you are not at fault for the accident.
Claiming Compensation From The At-Fault Driver
In Maine, all drivers are required to carry liability insurance in the event that they cause an accident. In fact, Maine has some of the highest legal minimums for liability coverage in the nation, including:
- $50,000 for injury or death of a single person
- $100,000 total for injuries or deaths caused by a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Many motorists choose to carry policies with higher coverage.
Whether you file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the insurance carrier is responsible for providing compensation up to the policy limit. If your damages exceed the policy limit, the at-fault driver may be required to make up the difference from his or her own assets.
Maine's Statute of Limitations
Maine has one of the longest statutes of limitations for car accident claims in the United States. The statute of limitations is the deadline for when you can take legal action. Once the statute of limitations has expired, you often forfeit your right to take legal action.
In Maine, you generally have up to 6 years to take legal action against the at-fault driver. This legal limit technically only applies to filing a lawsuit, not to filing a claim with the insurance company; however, the insurance company will take the possibility of a lawsuit into account when deciding whether or not to pay your claim. In most cases, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover compensation from an insurance company once the statute of limitations has expired.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
Maine law requires all motorists to have insurance, but some drivers break the law and drive without insurance. Moreover, it is common for the cost of an accident to exceed the at-fault driver's liability coverage.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UIM) provides you with compensation if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who does not have enough insurance coverage or no coverage at all. This form of insurance also often covers hit-and-run accidents. UIM is said to "follow you around," meaning you need not be in a motor vehicle; you are also covered if you are injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
The at-fault driver's insurance (if any) is your first source of compensation for your accident-related damages, up to his or her policy limit. Anything above and beyond that will be covered by your UIM coverage, up to your UIM policy limit.
For More Information
The laws surrounding car accidents in Maine are complex. Filing a claim can be difficult, especially if there are multiple insurance companies involved. That's why we strongly recommend that you contact us for a free evaluation with our law firm. We can analyze your insurance policy and help you understand your legal rights and options. Best of all, there is no fee until and unless we recover for you.