Understanding the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Claims in Maine

Although many individuals involved in accidents file personal injury lawsuits after a car collision, sometimes people assume that if the at-fault party is facing criminal charges following a car accident, that they do not have to file a personal injury suit. This assumption is incorrect and could cost you, as the potential plaintiff, the opportunity to collect compensation following a major accident.

According to a recent news report, a suspected drunk driver injured an attendant after crashing into a toll booth. At around 1:40am, state police reported that the driver lost control of their vehicle and crashed into the booth, causing a fire to break out. The shattered glass and debris from the impact of the car hit the toll attendant on duty, who was taken to the hospital. The driver of the vehicle was charged with aggravated operating under the influence and has previous convictions for speeding and driving to endanger and multiple suspensions. The attendant was released from the hospital but was still in pain and explained he felt lucky to have escaped alive from the accident.

Even though the at-fault driver in this accident was charged with aggravated operating under the influence, this does not mean that the toll booth worker will automatically receive compensation for their injuries. To receive compensation for physical injuries or property damage following a car accident, a separate personal injury claim must be filed in civil court.

In criminal cases, the state acts as the prosecution and the at-fault party who was charged is the defendant. In these cases, if the defendant is found guilty, they face jail time, fines, or community service, among other types of punitive measures, which are enforced by the state. Criminal cases, however, do not involve the victim of the accident as a party to the suit. Thus, if the victim of the accident seeks to receive compensation from the at-fault party, they must file a case separately in civil court.

Following a major accident, filing a personal injury lawsuit in Maine means you may be subject to rules that are specific to civil cases. To maximize your chances of success, it is crucial that these procedures and requirements are met.

For example, Maine, like other states, has limits on the amount of time that you have to file your personal injury lawsuit. In Maine, this statute of limitations is six years, which begins to run from the date of your accident. Although Maine’s statute of limitations is comparatively longer than other states, it is crucial that your claim is filed before the deadline or the court may decline to hear it.

In addition, Maine uses a modified comparative fault framework in personal injury cases. This means that an injured party’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them, as long as the percentage is under 50 percent. If the injured party’s fault is 50 percent or higher, they will be barred from collecting compensation.

Do You Need a Maine Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or someone you know was recently involved in a Maine car accident, contact the attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates today. Our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in all types of personal injury claims and will work to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 1-800-804-2004.

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