ATV Lawsuit in Maine Filed by Family of Teen

The family of a 16-year-old boy killed in a Maine ATV accident last summer has filed a civil lawsuit against the family of another 16-year-old who was driving the car with which he collided.

According to the crash report, the decedent was operating the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) behind the vehicle driven by h is 16-year-old friend. They were traveling the same direction when the ATV operator attempted to overtake the car. As he crossed back into the northbound lane, the ATV and car collided, causing the ATV to overturn and the rider to be ejected.

Decedent was not wearing a helmet and died of his injuries.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the 16-year-old driver of the car was negligent in operation, causing the decedent to crash.

The lawsuit is against the mother who owned the car the 16-year-old was driving. She is being represented by the insurance company that provided coverage for the vehicle.

Defense has denied all claims of negligence and has requested the case be dismissed. The court has not yet responded to that request. Additionally, defense argues plaintiff’s right to recover damages will be diminished by decedent’s own comparative fault.

In Maine, 14 M.R.S. 156 , the statute governing comparative negligence, allows that a person who suffers death or damage as a result of partial fault will still be able to collect damages from another party who is negligent, so long as plaintiff’s own negligence does not exceed 50 percent.

Whether this case will be defeated by comparative negligence remains to be seen. It will hinge largely on the details of the crash. Trial, if it reaches that stage, will most likely include expert witness testimony from accident reconstructionists on both sides of the aisle.

ATVs are popular in Maine, which boasts a number of riding trails intended specifically for these vehicles.

Maine statutes concerning ATVs require training for operators between the ages of 10 and 16 is required to undergo safety training before operating the vehicles, though no license is required. The minimum age to operate an ATV is 10-years-old, and it’s a crime to allow anyone under that age to operate one. Operators who are under the age of 16 are not allowed to cross public roadways while operating an ATV.

Statutes also say ATVs may not be operated on controlled access highways, though they may cross over them. Further, ATVs are generally not allowed to operate on any portion of public ways intended for use by conventional motor vehicles or on sidewalks. However, there are some exceptions. Those include:

  • When the public way has been closed for winter weather
  • When the public road is not maintained or used for conventional motor vehicles
  • During periods of emergency
  • During special events
  • When directed by law enforcement or other governmental unit

Although it does not appear any of these exceptions are applicable in this instance, it will certainly be a point of issue in this case. If the ATV operator was in violation of the law at the time of this tragic accident, it may be more difficult to show his comparative negligence did not exceed 50 percent.

If you are the victim of a Portland accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Family of Maine teen killed in ATV crash sues, May 7, 2015, By Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal

More Blog Entries:

Mother and daughter killed on Bailey Road in Knox, December 15, 2010, Portland ATV accident attorney blog

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