Car accidents can be traumatic experiences with a chaotic aftermath. There are injuries and property damage to contend with, as well as recovery time spent away from work or other responsibilities. In the worst cases, victims and families may have to adjust to life with permanent disabilities or, if the accident produces fatalities, without a loved one.
Dealing with these consequences is extremely difficult. But partnering with the Bangor car accident lawyers from Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys can make some elements of this aftermath easier. We fight for the rights of Bangor car accident victims, helping them secure compensation for their injuries and other losses to look toward a more hopeful, more financially stable future.
Car Accidents by the Numbers
For the most recent full year of car accident data collection, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) reports:
- 171 fatal crashes, producing 182 fatalities
- 7,768 injury-causing crashes, producing 10,060 injury victims
- 25,979 crashes caused property damage only
The total number of motor-vehicle crashes statewide over a recent five-year period is 165,782, bringing a total estimated economic cost of $15,169,933,000. Numbers of fatal accidents and accidents producing serious or minor injuries have increased over the five-year span.
For this five-year period, Penobscot County ranked third of Maine’s 16 counties for the highest number of highway crashes.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Bangor
Maine law requires individuals involved in a car accident to stop if there is vehicle damage or if victims are injured or killed. Those involved in the crash must exchange contact and insurance information, exchange driver’s licenses for inspection, and car registration. When possible, those involved should render aid to anyone injured, most likely by calling for emergency care.
Safety is paramount after an accident. If it is possible to move yourself and your car out of the path of traffic, do so. If not, stay put and wait for care–you do not want to cause yourself further injury.
Should your situation allow, collect information about the accident. Get contact information from witnesses and take pictures of the scene, including damage to the cars, road conditions and traffic signals, your injuries, and anything else that may be helpful to understanding what happened.
Reporting the Accident
When accidents fit Maine’s definition of “reportable,” you must report the accident to law enforcement, such as a state police officer or the nearest state police office, a local sheriff, or the local police department. Intentionally failing to report a reportable accident is a criminal act in Maine and brings penalties of up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
It is best to call authorities to the scene even if you do not think the accident is reportable. There may be more damage than is immediately apparent. An official police report will be helpful when seeking a settlement.
Protect Your Health and Your Injury Claim
Though you may not think your injuries require emergency care, it is important to seek prompt medical care after a car accident. The effects of some injuries, even serious or fatal injuries to the head and brain, can take hours or a day to show, and delaying care puts you at risk for worsened–or deadly–outcomes.
If you do not seek immediate care and your condition becomes worse, for example, you may have severe back pain that had been “masked” by the initial shock and surge of adrenaline, the at-fault party can claim your injury was caused by your delayed care, not just by the accident.
Connect With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Bangor
To put yourself in the best position for a fair settlement after a car accident, reach out to Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys as soon as possible. Our team of car accident attorneys has the experience, knowledge, and resources to protect and fight for your interests so you can see the highest level of recovery and a secure financial future.
Consequences of Car Accidents
The consequences of car accidents can reach into just about every area of your life. The physical effects lead to emotional and financial fallout.
Serious car accidents produce a range of injuries, ranging from moderate to catastrophic. But even moderate injuries require recovery time and medical treatment and may have long-lasting effects, such as chronic pain, sensitivity, or mobility limitations.
While it is not possible to exhaust the list of potential car accident injuries, some more commonly seen include:
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Deep lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and brain trauma
- Nerve, muscle, or other soft tissue damage
Pain and injury can easily lead to frustration, anxiety, and severe depression in and of themselves. But when you consider how they can also prevent victims from getting “out and about,” caring for themselves independently, socializing or interacting with friends and family as they once did, and engaging in activities they enjoy, it is easy to see how emotional distress can become overwhelming.
The event of the accident can also cause emotional and psychological trauma. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and reported by Very Well Mind indicates that 39.2% of motor vehicle accident victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Injuries require medical treatment, which always comes with a high cost, even when victims have insurance. There are co-pays and travel expenses that quickly pile up. When victims lose wages from work missed during recovery, the effects of those expenses are compounded by income loss.
When injuries are catastrophic, and victims cannot return to work, medical needs, and income loss are permanent, a situation prompting financial devastation.
Let A Car Accident Lawyer Handle the Insurance Companies
Maine has established minimum insurance requirements for all drivers. Minimum coverage includes:
- $50,000 for injury or death of one person
- $100,000 for injury or death of multiple people
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
- uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with the same minimum injury coverage
Drivers must report accidents to their insurance companies as soon as possible after the incident. However, when you report the accident, keep your comments brief and factual. Do not speculate on the causes of the accident or minimize your injuries. It is best to secure legal representation before speaking to insurance companies so your attorney can advise you or handle the conversation for you.
If your insurance company or the at-fault party’s representative makes you an initial settlement offer, do not take it without first speaking to your lawyer. Insurance companies will look to pay out as little as possible, even while convincing you their offer is the best you can get–even generous. Experienced car accident attorneys know what to expect from insurance companies, and they also know what victims truly deserve. They will protect you from accepting less than you deserve.
How a Bangor Car Accident Attorney Will Fight for a Fair Settlement
To collect a settlement, you have to prove the at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident leading to your injuries and losses. To successfully prove negligence, you have to first identify the at-fault party accurately and then collect evidence to prove their fault. Car accident victims do not have the experience, legal background, or resources available to investigate an accident as thoroughly as Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys, which is one reason why partnering with us soon after your accident is important to a successful settlement outcome.
Your car accident lawyer will:
- Examine the circumstances of your accident
- Identify the at-fault party
- Collect evidence to prove negligence
- Assess your losses and make a settlement demand
- Engage in settlement negotiations with the insurance company
- Represent you at court if insurance companies refuse a fair out-of-court settlement
You can take your case to court as long as you file your injury claim within six years of the accident. If your loved one dies in the accident, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim, according to Maine’s statutes of limitations.
However, you do not need to take that long to file–and should not. The sooner you connect with an attorney, the sooner they can file. And filing a legal claim can have a positive effect on negotiations with insurance companies. Companies often “see the light” and make fairer offers once faced with the possibility of a trial.
How Maine’s Comparative Fault Laws Can Affect A Car Accident Settlement
Car accident victims in Maine can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are those that come with a concrete monetary value, such as medical bills, future care costs, property damage, income loss, and other expenses caused by the accident.
Compensation for non-economic losses acknowledges victims’ physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of enjoyment and quality of life. In wrongful death cases, non-economic losses include loss of affection and relationships.
Because Maine operates under a comparative negligence system, victims can only pursue compensation if they are less than 50% responsible for the accident. Then, if they still hold some percentage of fault, their compensation is reduced in equal proportion.
Determining Fault Is a Critical Part of Your Case
Clearly, determining fault is a critical element of your injury case. The at-fault party’s representative knows this, too, and will do their best to assign you blame to lower their payout. When skilled car accident attorneys in Bangor manage your case, they will gather crucial evidence to protect you from false blame and hold the at-fault party appropriately accountable.
In gathering evidence for your case, the car accident lawyers at Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys can:
- Consult with accident reconstructionists
- Access photo or video footage from security or traffic cameras
- Access other electronic information if available and applicable, such as from the electronic data recorders or “black boxes” found in most large trucks
- Interview witnesses
- Speak with your medical providers
- Consult with other relevant experts, such as vehicle mechanics or inspectors
You can trust your car accident lawyers to exhaust all possibilities for evidence, building you the strongest case possible and protecting your settlement from unfair reduction.
Potential At-Fault Parties
There are many possible answers to the question of who is at fault for the accident. Sometimes, there are multiple factors at play and more than one person to hold responsible. Possibilities include:
- The other driver: Drivers may operate their vehicles while fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, may drive while distracted, may speed or engage in other reckless behaviors, fail to comply with traffic laws, or simply make an error
- Those responsible for the car’s safe operation: Car and part manufacturers are responsible for producing safe, properly working vehicles. Inspectors and mechanics are responsible for fixing a car’s problems and ensuring it is road-safe
- Government entities: Different government offices are responsible for maintaining safe roads, working traffic signals, and visible traffic signs. These entities may be culpable if an accident results from their failures
Procedures for filing against a Maine government agency differ from those applying to claims against private individuals or companies, according to the Maine Tort Claims Act. The statute of limitations for filing is much shorter, and cases can only be brought in specific situations. Navigating these complexities requires special knowledge of the Act. You can trust the car accident lawyers on our team to handle whatever special circumstances your case involves.
We Are Ready to Help
The team at Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys helps Mainers move on from a personal injury into a more hopeful, secure future. We know you need to put your energy into recovery, not legalities, and when you put your case into our hands, you can refocus your energy on healing.
As for costs, we work on a contingency basis. We review your case for free, and if we take it, we are so confident in our ability to secure a settlement that we only accept payment once you receive that settlement. Contacting us is completely risk-free. We look forward to hearing from you, fighting for you, and helping you move forward.