As an at-fault state, Maine offers injured drivers or victims in an auto accident of property damage multiple ways to recover costs associated with the car accident. Car accidents are not the only reason however you may need an attorney as many people in Maine hire specialized attorneys to represent them for accidents, moving violations and even OUI (operating under the influence) charges.
First Steps after an Accident
In Maine it is a crime if you do not report an accident that occurs on a public roadway that involves injury, death or apparent property damage of $1000 or more. If the roadway is private property then you are not required to report the accident. However there are a few grey areas where you would be better served reporting the accident just in case. This is where there is probable public traffic, such as at major shopping malls or large stadiums, generally anywhere there is expected a large volume of public traffic.
Accidents can be reported to a state police officer, state police field office, sheriff’s office or a sheriff’s deputy or a municipal police officer or police department all within the jurisdiction of the accident. The owners of the registered vehicle are responsible for reporting the accident or an agent on their behalf. Most insurance contracts require you to report an accident to them or they may be able to refuse payment under your insurance. It is advisable even for minor accidents to report them, jut to ensure your insurance company will pay the costs of the accident. Not reporting an accident can result in up to 6 months in jail in Maine.
Maine’s at fault system
Drivers have three options to recover costs of an accident and with Maine’s leading statute of limitations set at a long six years, injured victims in a car accident have a long window to consider a civil lawsuit. They can submit to their own insurance to cover the costs, file a civil lawsuit or file a claim directly to the alleged plaintiff’s insurance company for an award.
As a modified comparative negligence state, anyone with more fault than you are open to a civil lawsuit. However, your own claim may be reduced if you are also found at fault, in direct correlation to the percentage of fault you are awarded. Maine also has one of the highest insurance coverage mandates providing better insurance coverage even at minimum rates than most other states by a vast margin.
Demerits in Maine
For moving violations, Maine uses a demerit point system that can affect your license and insurance costs. The demerit system awards more demerits for drivers involved or charged with more severe violations such as improper passing or leaving the scene of an accident both worth 6 demerit points. 12 demerit points within one year will result in up to a 15 day license suspension.
After a moving violation drivers can opt to have a hearing in front of a panel from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and are able to be represented by an attorney. If you have received 2 major infractions in a year, on your second offence it would be wise to hire an attorney. You can also reduce your demerits by taking an approved defensive driver’s education course, and this may also be mandated under a moving violation suspension.
If you are involved in an operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) offense with drugs or alcohol your best defense is a hiring a specialized lawyer in Maine. As an implied consent state, you have already agreed to chemical tests in the enforcement of OUI laws. The first offence results in an automatic 275 day suspension, 18 months for a second refusal and as much as 6 years for a 3rd offence.
The state awards OUI penalties under both Administrative laws and criminal laws, meaning you could get double penalties. These penalties are possibly mitigated to a lesser penalty range if your defense is effective. Hiring the right attorney can sometimes make a big difference. Aggravated circumstances can result in very severe consequences and penalties, ensuring your rights are protected by a quality attorney is well advised.