Compensation Options in Fatal Maine Pedestrian Accidents

pedestriansThe death of a man in a Maine pedestrian accident is being blamed on an impaired driver who has since been arrested for multiple felonies. The Portland-Press Herald reported the crash happened near the entrance of a Target store, where the victim was reportedly exiting. He was 24 and died at the scene.

The defendant reportedly left the scene of the crash, abandoning her vehicle a few miles away before having a friend pick her up to take her to a nearby residence.

The case raises several questions regarding how pedestrians obtain insurance coverage. With a case like this, we may face questions such as compensation in cases in which a driver is not insured, compensation from hit-and-run drivers, and punitive damages from drivers who are drunk.

Although it’s not yet clear whether this alleged at-fault driver was insured, we do know that motorists who drive impaired and those who leave the scene have a higher likelihood of not having insurance.

When a motorist doesn’t have insurance, particularly in a pedestrian accident, it can create challenges for compensation purposes. All motorists in Maine are required to maintain auto insurance of $100,000 per accident for both bodily injury liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In the event a driver does not carry insurance, those affected may claim UM/UIM coverage from their own insurer. The same will apply in the event the driver responsible for the crash does not stop or is not identified.

Pedestrian cases are a bit tricky because pedestrians are not required to carry UM/UIM coverage. However, it should be noted that anyone who has this coverage for their automobile can still use it, even though they weren’t behind the wheel of a car when it happened. These benefits can be obtained for Maine wrongful death claims as well as those for personal injury.  Negligent motorists without insurance may be held personally liable if they have any assets that may be claimed as payment.

It should be noted that wrongful death claims must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, with damages being collected by the estate and then distributed among the appropriate survivors. Wrongful death claims, per Maine’s wrongful death statute, need to be filed within two years of one’s death – much shorter than the six-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits.

Damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Medical bills;
  • Property damage;
  • Lost compensation (including compensation for wages one reasonably could have earned if he or she lived);
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death; and
  • Loss of consortium.

If the alleged drunk driver is known and is deemed liable, we may also explore the possibility of punitive damages. This is only applicable in cases in which the defendant’s conduct was outrageous or malicious, and it is often sought in drunk driving accident death cases. Punitive damages awards in wrongful death cases in Maine may not exceed $250,000, except in special circumstances.

Finally, when accidents occur on private property,  it could mean police are a bit reluctant to get involved (being that they are unable to issue citations, etc.), but it is still important to call them because they may be able to document important details as a knowledgeable third party. This information could prove useful in your future civil claim, which is not precluded by the fact that it occurred on private property.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Pedestrian killed, Arundel woman arrested in South Portland crash, July 2, 2016, By Kelly Bouchard, Portland Press-Herald

More Blog Entries:

Maine Bill Would Allow Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Death of Unborn Children, June 2, 2017, Maine Pedestrian Accident Attorney Blog