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Who Pays for a Maine Drunk Driving Accident?

Offered by Romanow Law Group

Who Pays for a Maine Drunk Driving Accident?

In a crash involving alcohol, the driver may not be the only liable party

In a drunk driving accident, like any other type of Maine crash, the driver or parties who caused the crash are the ones who must pay for resulting injuries and damages. That’s the law. Sounds straightforward, right?

However, negligent drivers and their insurance providers often deny any wrongdoing – even when there’s clear evidence indicating otherwise. This can put seriously injured victims and their families in the difficult position of having to prove what is apparently obvious – the intoxicated driver was wrong, negligent, at-fault, and liable.

When drunk driving accident victims are too injured or unsure of how to proceed after a crash, experienced car accident lawyers can guide them through the process of filing car accident injury claims and recovering the maximum compensation they deserve. They help victims identify all liable parties, determine resources for compensation, collect evidence, file legal documents, and fight aggressively to get results.

Potential liable parties in a Maine drunk driving accident

The first step in recovering impaired driving accident compensation is to identify all liable parties. This involves a thorough investigation that considers accident circumstances, state laws, and legal principles. Every case is unique, but common types of liable parties in alcohol-involved crashes include:

  • The driver. The most obvious liable party is the intoxicated driver who caused the accident by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The vehicle owner. If the driver was operating a vehicle owned by someone else – like a friend, partner, or family member – the vehicle owner may be held liable under Maine’s negligence laws.
  • A restaurant, bar, or other commercial establishment. If a driver gets into an accident because they were over-served alcohol at a bar, restaurant, or another type of commercial alcohol vendor, Maine law may hold the establishment liable for injuries and damages. Under Maine’s Dram Shop Act, a venue is liable if they knowingly served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or to someone under the legal drinking age.
  • A social host. In some situations, the host who served or provided the environment for service of alcohol to an underage guest may be held liable if the minor causes an accident. Maine’s Social Host Liability law applies to accidents involving drivers under the drinking age (21). Usually, it does not apply to adults who are served post-intoxication. However, if it is determined that an adult driver was “recklessly” served alcohol, the host may be liable for damages resulting from a crash.
  • An employer. If the driver was operating a vehicle for work purposes or during the scope of their employment at the time of the accident, their employer may be liable under “respondeat superior.” A legal doctrine that indemnifies employers to a certain degree.
  • A vehicle manufacturer. If a defect in the vehicle contributed to the accident or exacerbated injuries, the manufacturer or distributor of the vehicle or its parts might be held liable under product liability laws.

It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney focused on impaired and other types of traffic accidents to determine all parties liable in a crash.

Potential sources of drunk driving compensation

Car accident compensation primarily comes from two sources – mostly insurance policies and occasionally personal assets. Maine drivers are required to purchase car insurance that covers injuries they cause to others and/or their property. This and other resources may be available to drunk driving victims seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more:

  • The other driver’s car insurance. File a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s car insurance and any other party that contributed to the crash like a wayward cyclist or pedestrian or another negligent driver.
  • Your MedPay insurance. The victim files a first-party claim against their own policy seeking medical payment coverage or MedPay, another required insurance in Maine.
  • Your UI or UIM insurance. File a first-party claim against the victim’s policy seeking compensation from Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM), another type of required car insurance in Maine.
  • A civil lawsuit. If the driver does not have enough insurance to cover damages, a victim may choose to file a civil injury lawsuit against them seeking compensation from their personal assets. This rarely happens, however. Even when the victim wins, if the negligent driver doesn’t have property and assets, payment will be difficult to collect, and more fruitful sources of compensation may be available.
  • A dram shop claim or lawsuit. In some cases, commercial and social alcohol servers may be liable for the actions of an intoxicated person who was served under the age of 21 or was already visibly intoxicated at the time of service.
  • A class action, manufacturer lawsuit. If a vehicle malfunctions, the victim may have a case against a manufacturer. They may be able to join a class action suit or file a claim of their own.
  • Punitive damages. Although rare, a Maine court can award compensation as a penalty against the at-fault party. In a drunk driving case, punitive damages may be available if the driver acted with “express” or “implied” malice.

If a satisfactory resolution can’t be reached, an experienced drunk driving injury lawyer can draft and file the necessary paperwork to put a lawsuit in motion. Many times, this is followed by further negotiations and a settlement is still possible before heading to court.

Average drunk driving accident compensation

Due to the wide variety of circumstances, injuries, and strategies for recovery, there is no useful figure for an average drunk driving settlement. Compensation could be anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

In a Maine drunk driving accident, settlements and other financial compensation are based on factors that include the type and extent of the injuries suffered, whether there is permanent or disfiguring damage, insurance policy limits and asset limits. The victim’s contribution to causing the accident is a factor, as well. Maine applies the modified comparative negligence standard to injury compensation, which means compensation is reduced proportionally to an individual’s contributions to causing the incident. Settlements and other financial compensation consider these types of damages and more:

  • Emergency medical services
  • Diagnostic testing, imaging, and lab work
  • Hospitalization
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy, rehabilitation
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Health care and other types of in-home services
  • Mental health treatment
  • Surgeries
  • Appointments with general doctors and specialists
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished future earning potential
  • Pain and suffering, emotional distress
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Towing
  • Rental car while personal vehicle is unavailable
  • Modifications to home and vehicle to accommodate disabilities

In fatal drunk driving accidents in Maine, loss of consortium, loss contribution to household, pain and suffering, and funeral costs may be available to surviving family members. A lawyer can explain wrongful death lawsuit eligibility in specific cases.

Put the law on your side

The availability and number of damages in a drunk driving accident can vary depending on the specific details of a case. However, no matter what the circumstances are, it’s important to have an experienced, aggressive car accident lawyer on your side to fight for justice and compensation. With an experienced Portland, Maine car accident lawyer, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney keeps your case moving forward. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a Maine drunk driving accident, it’s important to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. Contact a Premier Attorney near you today.

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