Another fatal car crash along a Maine road. Another family, or a number of families, confronted with a loss too.
News accounts of passengers in a crash that are “young and from the area” mean that an entire group of families are suffering. The losses are so enormous that words haven’t been invented to describe the impact of a lost child. The fact that the lost child was on the verge–the verge of graduation, perhaps- the verge of joyful opportunities that young adulthood holds- makes the pain the families bear all the more difficult. When a car skids out of control and kills a teenager, the entire family’s life skids out of control too.
In the midst of a loss so tremendous, how is a family supposed to marshal the resources to protect against an insurance company that can take advantage of the loss and try to write off the child’s life with a quick and easy insurance release ? In Maine, except in medical malpractice cases, a family has only two years from the date of death to sort things out and bring a Wrongful Death lawsuit.
Many families still feel the death as a fresh injury after two years, yet action must be taken or there will never be a chance to recover compensation. As a Maine Registered Nurse, I have “been there” at the hospital when parents learned of a child’s death. But as an injury attorney in Maine, I have also witnessed the damage to grief stricken parents months and even years later. Parents of a deceased child have legal matters to attend to following a child’s death, but often their grief robs them of the energy to devote to the legal side.
Even such a simple matter as reading the insurance policy to determine whether their child’s funeral can be paid for from the proceeds of an automobile policy–and which policy–might require legal interpretation. A parent whose child has passed away needs help, and more than anything else, they need time. Time to grieve, time to stabilize and time begin to pick up the pieces of a life that will never be the same.
Perhaps it’s time to take a look at the two year Wrongful Death statute of limitations. Perhaps it’s time to put the grieving parents first, instead of insurance companies.
Alison Wholey Briggs Mynick, RN, Esq. /Briggs & Wholey, LLC/2011