A fatal car accident in Prospect resulted in the deaths of two men and, now, the felony conviction of a man suspected – but not proven – to have been the negligent driver of that vehicle. Bangor car accident attorneys know the case represents some unique elements from a wrongful death litigation perspective, due to the fact the person who was driving was not conclusively decided.
According to The Bangor Daily News, the 2016 crash involved a pickup truck on North Searsport Road on an afternoon in September 2016. What authorities know for certain is there were three occupants in that vehicle at the time the truck slammed into a utility pole, causing the truck to roll over several times, ejecting all three from the vehicle. Investigators determined speed was a major factor in the crash, but several crash scene reconstruction experts called to investigate for the prosecution and defense were unable to determine who was driving at the time of the collision – the 33-year-old surviving defendant or one of the two men who died, ages 59 and 35. Defendant, who suffered serious head injuries in the collision, cannot remember who was behind the wheel. Investigators know that defendant had been driving at other times during that day. Blood found on the driver’s side airbag was determined to belong to the surviving defendant, prompting serious felony charges of manslaughter and other crimes. However, an expert later determined the blood on the airbag most likely came form the person sitting in the center, not the driver. The more serious charges were dropped, but defendant was still charged with operating without a license as a habitual offender (resulting in a 3.5 year prison sentence) and violating conditions of his release (six months, to be served concurrently).
As for a Maine wrongful death lawsuit, a case where the driver cannot be identified poses some challenges. Still, our Bangor wrongful death car accident attorneys know there may be a number of potential options for compensation.
Possible Claims in Maine Car Accidents When Driver is Unknown
The first thing to keep in mind is the possibility of a finding of vicarious liability of the vehicle owner for negligent operation of a vehicle – meaning the owner can be found liable even if he or she was not driving.
Vicarious liability is a form of strict, secondary liability arising from the common law doctrine of respondeat superior, or essentially the notion that a third party had the right, ability or duty to control the activities of the negligent party. Essentially, the contributory negligence of the motor vehicle driver resulting in injury to a third party is imputable to the owner of the motor vehicle.
MRS Title 29-A, Chapter 13, Subchapter 3 expressly allows for liability of an owner for allowing a minor or impaired driver to operate a motor vehicle.
Another possibility is uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage, paid by one’s own insurer, would typically apply in cases where the driver either has no valid insurance (which would be the case here if a civil court found by preponderance of the evidence surviving defendant was driving because he did not have a license, and therefore was not insured) or was not identified because he or she fled the scene.
Without having all the facts of the case, it’s difficult for any Bangor car accident attorney to say exactly which avenues might be available in a given case. If you are concerned about special circumstances in your Maine car accident claim, it’s important to contact an injury or wrongful death lawyer with extensive experience in handling complex claims and litigation.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Winterport man sentenced to 3 ½ years for role in crash that killed two, Dec. 4, 2018, By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News
More Blog Entries:
Failure to Vet Van Driver Lands Maine Town in Multiple Injury Lawsuits, Oct. 4, 2018, Bangor Car Accident Attorney Blog