Why a Do-It-Yourself Lawsuit App May Not be Effective for Maine Injury Claims

The Portland Press Herald recently published a report regarding a new smartphone app that allows users to bypass legal services and file a civil lawsuit with just a few clicks. A quick, “Swipe right to sue” allows for claims of up to $25,000. One might expect any long-time Maine injury lawyer to express objections. However, the problem is less that lawyers aren’t being paid for legal services and far more that Maine injury claimants may not obtain the compensation they deserve.

If you’re injured in a car accident or hurt by use of a defective product, it’s important to recognize that a smartphone app – no matter how smart – is not going to provide you with the personal and professionalized service of an experienced injury attorney. Perhaps there is an argument to be made about using it for a minor traffic ticket. However, if you’re injured – or even think you may be – you may be cheating yourself by not at least making sure your case isn’t worth more than you initially assume.

For example, the app asks users, “How much do you want to sue for?” giving consumers the option of deciding how much their injury claim is worth. This is problematic because this is actually a very complex question – one that shouldn’t be answered with a mere guess. There is extensive time and research that goes into consideration of how much a Maine injury claim is worth. There is no place to indicate whether the damages you’re claiming are compensatory (identifiable and concrete damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.), general damages (including pain and suffering, future income losses and future medical care) or punitive (limited in application, but significant and intended to penalize egregious negligence by a defendant).

While one might easily enough tally medical bills up to that date, how easily would you be able to determine the extent of medical care you’ll need in the future? Or how the crash or defective product injury has impacted your future earnings? Can you accurately guess the extent to which the crash diminished the value of your vehicle, if it wasn’t totaled? Are you able to ascertain on your own whether your claim is eligible for a punitive damage award, which per the standard set forth by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in the 1993 case of Laliberte v. Mead must meet a finding of implied malice by the clear and convincing evidence standard (higher than the traditional preponderance of the evidence for most civil damages claims)? How do you know if more than one person should be held liable, and whether you’re signing off on any chance of collecting future damages from those others responsible by agreeing to a small settlement (which the defendant may welcome)?

We say this not to belittle anyone, but to point out that injury cases are often much more complex than many assume. These rhetorical questions point out these are aspects that arise in a Maine injury lawsuit that are best answered by an experienced Portland injury attorney who understands Maine civil law – and your rights.

If you are unsure about whether you need an attorney at all, the question can usually be answered in a free initial consultation.

With regard to cost of an injury lawyer in Maine, consider that with injury claims, you do not pay attorney fees upfront. That’s because the legislature recognizes this might be prohibitive for those with legitimate claims. For this reason, they are offered on a contingency fee basis. Per the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, as issued by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, lawyers cannot collect an unreasonable amount for expenses, based on the time and labor required, the difficulty of the question involved and the skill required to perform the service properly. In a contingency fee agreement, you do not pay attorney fees unless the attorney wins your case by settlement or jury verdict.

If you have suffered a personal injury in Portland or elsewhere in Maine, contact an experienced civil injury lawyer who can help you determine if you would benefit from the assistance of a law firm – or if you’re truly better off “swiping right to sue.”

Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights in a Portland personal injury claim.

Additional Resources:

App lets users file lawsuits with smartphones, Oct. 22, 2018, By Peter Holley, Associated Press Wire, Portland Press Herald

More Blog Entries:

Van Crash Injuring Maine Children Prompts Notice of Claim for Damages, Oct. 11, 2018, Portland Injury Attorney Blog