Car accidents wreak havoc. They produce physical, emotional, and financial damage to residents of Biddeford and the surrounding areas all too frequently. All that damage demands recovery. Often, victims do not realize they have the right to seek financial recovery from the party responsible for causing their accident and become overwhelmed with their mounting expenses and fear for the future.
Partnering with the Biddeford car accident lawyers from Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys can put you firmly on the path to financial recovery. While you focus on your health and healing, our team will work to hold the at-fault party accountable, demanding they compensate you for the losses their negligence caused you.
Steps to Take Following a Car Accident in Biddeford
There are steps Maine law requires those involved in car accidents to take immediately following an incident. There are additional steps you should take to protect your safety and your potential injury case.
Follow Maine Car Accident Laws
Accidents meeting Maine’s definition of “reportable” must be reported to law enforcement. Under Maine law, reportable means:
- The accident caused damage to a vehicle
- A person was injured in the accident
- A person was killed in the accident
When there is vehicle damage, those involved must share contact and insurance information, and exchange driver’s licenses for inspection–it is a good idea to take a photo of the other driver’s license–and car registrations.
When a person is injured, if the other party is able, they must provide “reasonable assistance.” In many instances, reasonable aid may mean calling for emergency care.
Failure to comply with these laws is a criminal act in Maine, punishable by fines or jail time of up to six months.
Document the Event
If you can move without injuring yourself following the accident, get out of the way of traffic. If moving compromises your safety, stay still until help arrives. Otherwise, begin gathering valuable information:
- Take pictures and video: document damage to the cars, the position of the cars, road conditions, your injuries, and any other relevant elements of the environment, such as traffic signals or signs
- Get contact information from witnesses. If witnesses have video footage of the accident, ask them to share it with you
- Make an official report. It is best to err on the side of caution and have law enforcement make an official accident report even if you do not think it falls into the “reportable” category. Some damage, both to your body and the body of your car, may not be immediately apparent, and having an official report will help should you need to pursue compensation
Get Medical Care
You might not think your injuries are serious. Do not minimize them–especially not to the other party involved in the accident. It is important to get prompt medical attention, even for injuries you think are minor.
For one thing, you may have sustained more damage than you observe right away. Adrenaline can hide pain, and the signs of some injuries take hours or a day to show. Internal bleeding, brain injuries, and spinal cord damage are extremely serious, even deadly, conditions, and failure to seek care can lead to permanent disability or death.
Second, if you need to pursue a settlement, having your injuries documented by a medical professional is important to your case. If you put off getting care and your situation worsens, the at-fault party can blame your condition on your decision to delay care rather than on the accident.
Secure Legal Representation
Once you are safe, reach out to the Biddeford car accident lawyers from Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys. The sooner you partner with our team, the better. With fast access to your case, your car accident attorney in Biddeford can access evidence while it is still available and contact witnesses while their contact information is current and their memories of the events are fresh. The sooner we get to work, the sooner you can see results.
Car Accidents in Maine: Statistics and Contributing Factors
Maine drivers experience accidents on urban and rural roads and on highways and interstates, according to data collected by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). In their report, the MDOT reveals the number of accidents in the state and each county and the factors contributing to those accidents.
Over the past five years, Maine has seen 165,782 motor-vehicle accidents totaling $15,169,933,000 in economic costs. The number of fatal accidents, as well as accidents causing both serious or minor injuries, have all increased during these years.
For the most recent year of collection, the MDOT reports:
- 182 deaths caused by 171 fatal accidents
- 10,060 injury victims in 7,768 crashes
- 25,979 accidents causing property damage
Regarding highway crashes, York County ranked second out of Maine’s 16 counties for the greatest number of accidents.
Factors Contributing to Accidents
The MDOT reports a variety of factors contributing to accidents, noting that for many, there are multiple contributors. The top contributing factors include:
- Failing to yield right-of-way
- Following too closely
- Running off the roadway
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Failing to stay in the proper lane
Other factors include non-compliance with other traffic laws or safe driving behaviors and vehicle defects or malfunctions.
Holding At-Fault Parties Accountable After a Biddeford Car Accident
Maine’s laws allow car accident victims to seek compensation for their losses from the party at fault for the accident. Under comparative fault, victims who are less than 50% at fault for the accident can file a claim. If the victims meet this standard but still hold a percentage of fault, their compensation is reduced proportionally.
To ensure the at-fault party is held accountable for your losses, connect with a Biddeford car accident attorney. You need a skilled, experienced legal representative to secure the settlement you deserve.
Investigating the Accident
A thorough investigation of the accident is essential to a successful outcome. Through this examination, your attorney will identify the at-fault party and collect evidence to prove their negligence. It is easy to “assume” the cause of an accident, but doing so is a major mistake.
You can only collect a settlement if you prove the at-fault party was negligent. If you file against the wrong party based on assumptions, even logical ones, you may discover you were wrong, there is no evidence against that party, and risk losing your much-needed compensation.
The Biddeford car accident lawyers from our team have the resources, experience, knowledge, and connections to carry out a full investigation to identify the truly negligent party. Possibilities include:
- The other driver: Failing to comply with traffic laws, making driving errors, driving while distracted, fatigued, or under the influence, and other behaviors can put another driver at fault for the accident
- Government offices: Road maintenance, street lighting, and traffic signals and signs fall under the purview of different government offices. If an office fails to keep roads safe or signals operational and an accident ensues, the relevant office may be culpable
- Vehicle and part manufacturers: Drivers count on car and part manufacturers to produce safe, fully operational vehicles. Should brakes fail, airbags fail to deploy, or steering or other mechanisms stop functioning, the vehicle or part manufacturer or installer may hold accountability
- Mechanics and car inspectors: Drivers also rely on mechanics to fix problems with their cars and inform them when a vehicle is not safe to drive. If they fail in this duty, carrying out slipshod inspections or repairs, they may be at fault for the accident
Building Your Case
As your attorney investigates to identify the at-fault party, they will also collect evidence to prove that party’s negligence. The Biddeford car accident lawyers at Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys will pursue every avenue for evidence. For example, they will:
- Gather physical evidence from the accident scene
- Access traffic or surveillance camera footage
- Review the accident report
- Interview witnesses
- Consult with accident reconstructionists and other experts
- Speak with your medical team and caregivers
As each car accident case is unique, your attorney will consider your case carefully and seek evidence from any applicable sources.
Making a Settlement Demand
When you have an accident, you need to report the incident to your car insurance company. If you have not yet partnered with an attorney, keep this conversation brief and factual. Do not suggest possibilities for how the accident happened, and do not minimize your injuries or even describe them. Just tell your insurance adjuster you will be seeking medical care and speaking with an attorney.
Do not speak to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s goal is to save the insurance company money and to do that, the adjuster may twist your words into admissions of fault or to at least raise the possibility that you are partially to blame. They may even make you an initial offer, attempting to convince you it is the most you can expect to receive.
Do not fall for these tricks. Instead, have your Biddeford car accident attorney handle all communication with the at-fault party’s insurance. Your attorney will value your case with precision and will make a settlement demand that provides fair compensation.
Negotiating Your Settlement
Once your lawyer makes the settlement demand, negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company begin. Our Biddeford car accident lawyers are skilled negotiators and will not be intimidated or coerced into accepting a low offer.
Most car accident claims settle out of court. However, if the other side will not negotiate in good faith, your attorney will review your options with you. Should you decide to go to trial, Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys will represent you at every court proceeding.
What A Biddeford Car Accident Settlement Can Cover
The circumstances of every accident are different, making it impossible to offer an average settlement amount. What you collect depends on the severity of your injuries and their consequences, the at-fault party’s degree of negligence, and other factors. That said, you can trust your attorney to consider all of your losses and pursue coverage for:
- Medical bills and future treatment costs. If your injuries are catastrophic, you will likely require continuous daily care
- Loss of income. You will miss work and wages while recovering, and severe injuries may prevent you from returning to work at all. Lost wages and lost future wages and benefits are factored into the settlement amount
- The value of property damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Additional expenses you face because of the accident and your injuries
- Your physical pain and emotional suffering
- Your diminished quality of life
If your loved one dies in an accident, your car accident lawyer in Biddeford will file a wrongful death claim to secure coverage for related medical costs, death expenses, lost income, and loss of consortium.
File Within Maine’s Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a legal deadline for filing a claim. For many car accidents in Maine, the statute of limitations is six years from the day of the accident. Wrongful death claims must be filed within a two-year deadline.
While those windows of opportunity may seem wide, you should not delay connecting with an attorney. Some cases come with special circumstances. For example, in cases against government offices, the deadline for filing is much shorter.
Legally filing your claim or informing the at-fault party’s insurance company that you will be filing can also help move settlement negotiations along. Remember, insurance companies want to pay as little as possible. They may drag their feet, continuing with lowball offers to wear you down and get you to agree to the settlement out of sheer frustration. Sometimes, upon seeing your attorney’s notice to file, reality sets in, and they make more respectable offers.
We Will Help You Move Forward
The team at Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys gives you the power and voice to move forward after a car accident. Our impeccable reputation is built on over 100 years of experience. With our legal acumen and robust resources, we fight fiercely for our client’s best interests and look forward to fighting for you. Partner with our attentive, compassionate, and powerful Biddeford car accident attorneys and contact us today. We are on your side.