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Harms Presented By Uninsured Drivers in Maine

accidents-5-145311-m.jpgDrivers in Maine are required to carry $50,000 in insurance coverage at a minimum and this law is routinely enforced by police officers making traffic stops. They impose penalties for failing to carry insurance, including fines, license suspension, and potential loss of registration privileges.

Unfortunately, rigorous enforcement doesn’t lead to all drivers in Maine being insured, though the rate of uninsured drivers is among the lowest of all the states. The five states with the lowest rates of uninsured drivers are Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Nebraska. Research suggests that the recession is the reason for the national increase in uninsured drivers as of 2008.

By one account, Maine has about 42,000 uninsured drivers of 930,000 licensed drivers. The Maine State Police reported 172 accidents involving uninsured drivers in 2013, 234 in 2012, and 229 in 2011. Accidents involving uninsured drivers are particularly problematic for accident victims. Often these victims are left with a large number of medical bills with insufficient recourse to financial recovery.

Maine’s insurance system is based on fault. An at-fault driver is liable to the injured party for damages. In a personal injury lawsuit, attorneys usually seek compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurer. Barring that, they must look at the at-fault driver’s assets — if damages are more than the policy limits, an at-fault driver is supposed to make up the difference with his or her own assets.

The state minimum of $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident is insufficient to cover medical expenses in the case of catastrophic injury. A single trip to the emergency room can cost over $10,000 and with serious injuries multiple trips to the doctor and long-term treatment may be necessary.

Drivers in Maine are also supposed to carry supplemental uninsured motorist coverage allowing injured parties to obtain compensation from their own insurers. Additionally, in certain cases, a driver will have significant wealth but choose not to drive with insurance.

Medical expenses are the first to be paid from a settlement or verdict or the victim’s own insurance, but often victims of accidents have injuries that go beyond immediate medical needs. For example, a crash may lead to injuries that require vocational rehabilitation. This usually requires the help of trained professionals. There may also be activities that a victim is no longer able to perform — gardening, dancing, long walks, weightlifting, and any number of other activities that require muscular action. Most upsettingly, perhaps, a car accident victim may be unable to work and will not get compensated for time off work.

The full extent of medical injuries is not revealed to doctors immediately after an accident. Even slow-speed crashes can lead to hidden injuries, including whiplash, trauma to ligaments and spinal discs, tension headaches, and radiating pain. Injury to the spine is extremely likely if speeds over 45 miles per hour are involved.

These concerns are all reasons why it is important to retain a personal injury attorney to fight for your interests. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to tap all potential sources of compensation, including the at-fault driver’s assets. At Briggs & Wholey, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced advocate, please contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC through our website today.

More Blog Posts:

Study Claims Drivers in Maine and Across the U.S. Are Distracted More Than They Realize, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 13, 2013
One Hurt in Negligent York County Traffic Wreck, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 7, 2013