The surviving husband of a 67-year-old woman who died as a passenger in a Maine car accident has filed a lawsuit to recover damages from the two drivers involved in the wreck. One of those drivers is a young, uninsured motorist who was without a license at the time of the crash. The other is his late wife’s sister.
Although it may seem unsettling that one would take legal action against a relative, especially one who has likely already suffered such trauma, there is a very practical reason for such action. It has to do with insurance coverage and the fact that the 22-year-old driver who struck the two women didn’t have any.
Meanwhile, decedent and her sister were covered by uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These coverage forms will provide coverage when the at-fault driver(s) either don’t have any insurance or when the insurance available isn’t enough.
So likely what plaintiff attorneys are hoping for in this case is that jurors will find the 22-year-old driver at-fault, in which case decedent’s UM benefits will kick in. If the court does find the decedent’s sister was partially at-fault, her insurance may be required to extend coverage as well. Then whatever is not covered by her insurer may be covered by decedent’s UM/ UIM coverage.
In any case, the UM/UIM coverage held by the decedent and her sister may well prove the only opportunity for decedent’s widower to recover damages, which is an illustration of why it’s important to carry this coverage. Although it’s required by law to carry $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of this coverage, it’s a good idea to increase those limits for this very reason. You simply can’t always count on other drivers to carry ample insurance – or any insurance at all, for that matter.
According to news reports of the wrongful death case, the crash happened in March 2014. The young driver was operating a vehicle without a license in a vehicle that was not registered and not insured. It was about 7:30 a.m. and the two sisters were heading west down U.S. Route 202. Meanwhile, the young driver was traveling east when she drifted into the westbound lane – directly ahead of the sisters.
The sister, then age 70, swerved into the eastbound lane in order to try to avoid the crash. This occurred at the same time the younger driver corrected and also swerved back into the eastbound lane. The two vehicles ended up colliding head-on. Decedent was pronounced dead at the scene.
The now-24-year-old driver has been sentenced to 32 months in prison (half of her 7-year-sentence was suspended) and five years of probation.
Decedent’s widower is seeking damages for:
- medical expenses
- funeral expenses
- economic losses
- loss of society and companionship
- punitive damages
Typically, UM/UIM benefits will not cover punitive damages.
The sister’s insurer, who is providing legal counsel for her in court, has insisted she is not liable and her actions were the result of the negligent and independent conduct of third parties (i.e., the other driver). So even though she technically swerved into the oncoming lane, she only did so to avoid a crash caused by the other driver entering her lane. This means the emergency doctrine will protect her, attorneys for the insurer stated. The insurer has also filed a cross-motion seeking a finding that if the sister is held liable, the other driver should be required to contribute payment.
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.
Widower of Monmouth crash victim sues 2 drivers, March 22, 2016, By Betty Adams, Centralmaine.com
More Blog Entries:
Maine OUI Accident Lawsuit Prompts Tougher Criminal Charges, Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer Blog