Car Insurance Claims
Many Maine personal injury lawsuits regarding auto accidents are dismissed because the injury does not meet the minimum threshold for serious injury. The personal injury attorneys at The Juskewitch Law Firm have the knowledge and intuition to help clients evaluate their case and determine how to move forward to obtain financial recovery. Contact our auto insurance claim lawyers to learn more.
Maine law prohibits the filing of a lawsuit for non-economic injuries in a personal injury case involving a motor vehicle unless the injury is a "Serious Injury". Non-economic injuries include pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and other damages. The Insurance Law §5102(d) defines serious injury as follows:
- significant disfigurement;
- a fracture;
- loss of a fetus;
- permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function, system;
- permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person's usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
The question as to whether the plaintiff makes out a prima facie showing of "serious injury" is to be determined by the Court. Once that it met, it is for the jury to determine whether the plaintiff in fact suffered a "serious injury". Most of the items above are self evident. However, the law texts are full of decisions highlighting the tightness with which the Courts hold to a literal reading of the statute. For example, "significant disfigurement" has been held to be a visible disfiguring scar. Therefore, a scar under the hair line or one which is not visible when wearing your customary clothing would not qualify. A "fracture" may not include a fractured tooth unless the fracture led to complications. A herniated disc without nerve compression and/or surgical intervention may not be considered a "serious injury".
The treating physicians must be willing to supply affidavits attesting to their objective rather then subjective findings as to the limitations that the non-obvious injuries have had on the plaintiff. "Objective" testing is a finding that is not controlled by the patient and can be verified by independent testing. "Subjective" testing is a complaint by an injured patient which is not capable of independent verification.
Maine Liability Auto Insurance Laws
Maine requires all cars to be insured with liability insurance with a minimum value of $25,000.
This means that your insurance company will protect you by paying up to $25,000 to any one person that is injured in an accident. This is the required minimum. You can and should purchase additional insurance protection at minimal additional cost.
If you injure someone, the injuries can result in a lawsuit that awards them substantially more than $25,000. Under those circumstances the insurance company will only pay up to the amount of $25,000. The additional money will come out of your pocket. It is best to have as much liability insurance as you can afford.
Automatically included in your liability policy is uninsurance and underinsurance protection of $25,000. If you are in an accident with a car that does not have insurance, then you and your passengers are covered by your insurance company. If you have purchased additional liability insurance, be certain to increase your underinsurance coverage to the same amount. This is a very good investment. It protects YOU, not the other driver. Similarly, if the other car has $25,000 of insurance coverage and your car has $75,000 of Underinsurance coverage, then once the other car's insurance company pays the $25,000, you can seek an additional $50,000 from your insurance company.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
Maine also requires all cars to be insured with no-fault insurance. No-fault insurance does not offer compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, or wrongful death. In order to recover compensation for these non-economic losses, one must meet the above mentioned threshold for serious injury. However, no-fault benefits provide comprehensive benefits up to $50,000 for expenses that result from an injury, including:
Medical expenses: Medical providers must file claims for doctor bills, therapy expenses, and other medical expenses within 45 days of the date of service. When asked for your insurance card, your no-fault insurance information should be given, not your health insurance information. If the medical expenses exceed the amount paid by no-fault insurance, you will not be expected to pay the difference.
Lost Income: You must file claims for lost wages within 90 days of the motor vehicle accident that caused your injury. Wage loss compensation is income which will not exceed 80% of your total lost earnings. The maximum compensation for lost wages is currently $2,000 per month for not more than 3 years from the date of the accident;
Other reasonable and necessary expenses: Other expenses may be paid up to $25 per day for not more than one year;
Death benefits: Although no-fault insurance does not provide wrongful death benefits, it provides death benefits of $2,000.00.
No-fault insurance pays your medical bills and other items such as lost wages regardless of whose fault the accident was. Your insurance company will pay your medical expenses and those of the other occupants of your car. The other car's driver and passengers will be paid by the other driver's insurance policy.
Insurance coverage questions are extremely technical and can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. For additional information, speak with a knowledgeable auto insurance coverage dispute attorney at The Juskewitch Law firm. Avoid unnecessary claim denial. Call us at 207-264-6582 or 207-667-0483.
The law firm of Juskewitch represents clients in Ellsworth and Hancock County.