While some accidents are solely the cause of one party, it is not unusual for multiple parties to share responsibility for an accident. One of the most common questions Maine personal injury victims have is whether they can pursue a claim for compensation if they were partially at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries. The answer, as is often the case with legal questions of this nature, is “it depends.”
Maine courts employ the doctrine of modified comparative negligence when it comes to determining which injury victims can recover for their injuries. In many jurisdictions using a comparative negligence system, a partially at-fault plaintiff can recover for their injuries; however, a plaintiffs’ recovery amount will be reduced by their percentage of fault. Thus, if a plaintiff suffered $400,000 in personal injury damages but was found to be 25 percent at fault by the jury, the plaintiff’s total recovery amount would be $300,000.
Under Maine Rules of Civil Procedure section 156, as long as the injury victim is less than 50% percent at fault for the accident, they are legally permitted to recover for their injuries. However, unlike other jurisdictions, Maine courts “instruct the jury to reduce the total damages by dollars and cents, and not by percentage, to the extent considered just and equitable.” In so doing, juries should consider the plaintiff’s share of responsibility, but should not strictly rely on percentages when reducing a plaintiff’s award figure. In addition, the court must instruct the jury that their award amount will be the final verdict in the case and that there will be no further modification by the court.
In many Maine personal injury accidents, the plaintiff pursues a claim against multiple parties. If there are numerous responsible parties, Maine courts hold each liable defendant jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff for the full amount of the plaintiff’s injuries. This prevents the plaintiff from needing to enforce each of the damages awards against every liable defendant.
Defendants are responsible for seeking contribution from joint tortfeasors. Thus, any defendant can request that the jury provide the court with its assessment of that party’s percentage of fault. Of course, if a plaintiff settles with a defendant before trial, any other defendants are not on the hook for that defendant’s liability and vice versa.
Meet with an Experienced Maine Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are suffering from the effects of a serious Maine car accident or other personal injury accident, contact the Maine personal injury law firm of Peter Thompson & Associates. At our Portland law office, we represent clients in all types of injury claims, including motor vehicle claims, slip-and-fall accidents, and incidents of medical malpractice. We also provide all prospective clients with a free, no-obligation consultation in which we can discuss your case and how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on your injuries. To learn more, and to speak with an injury attorney about your case, call Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 to schedule a free consultation. You can also contact us online.