Stop your car at once and render all possible aid to any injured people and send for an ambulance if needed. Do not move an injured person unless there is danger of another accident.
Call the police to report the auto accident, even if the accident was minor. Car accidents involving any injuries or property damage of $1000 or more are required to be reported to the police or sheriff’s department.
Stay at the scene until the police have arrived and questioned everyone involved. If you can, move your car off the road so that you do not block traffic.
If you happen to have a camera, take photographs of the scene of the accident.
Bear in mind that anything you say to others following the accident may be admissible, so when making any statements, try to be as accurate as you can. Be polite and considerate of the other driver’s situation, but do not apologize or say that the accident may have been partially your fault just to make the other driver feel better.
Record the other driver’s:
- Name and address (make sure the name is the same as on the license)
- Make, model and year of car
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company name
- Description of damage to vehicle
- The time, date and place of the accident
- The color of the traffic light at the time of the accident if that was a factor
- The position and direction of travel of vehicles and pedestrians before and after the crash
- Bad weather or roadway conditions
- Lighting conditions at the time of the accident
- If a parked car is damaged, try to find the owner. Leave a note in a place where the owner can find it containing:
- Your name and address
- Your driver’s license number
- Your license plate number
- The date and time of the accident
- A description of the damage
If you are injured, even if it is a minor injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Failure to see a doctor soon after the accident may result in a claim that the injury was caused by something else other than the accident. You should also contact an experienced auto accident attorney who can advise you if you have a claim and who can take the actions necessary to preserve the claim you may have for personal injury or for damage to your car.
As soon as you can do this after the accident write down everything you can remember about the auto accident. It is important to do this as soon as possible since you might forget certain details as time goes by. A police report will typically be available about ten business days after the accident took place. Your attorney will obtain a copy of the report. Although the police report is not the final authority on how the accident happened, it is important for your attorney to try to resolve and differences which there may be between what is in the report and your description of the accident.
The best course of action for you is to retain an attorney as soon as possible, then simply refer all contacts from an insurance company to the attorney. Without an attorney, however, we recommend that you provide only basic information such as names and addresses. An insurance company requesting information from you will be trying to pay as little as possible on the claim and will not be acting in your interest. The more severe the injuries and property damage resulting from an accident, the more consideration you should give to obtaining legal representation from a competent auto accident attorney as soon as possible.
Yes. An insurance company may attempt to draw a connection between the lack of damage to a motor vehicle and the existence of any resulting injuries, but in many auto accident cases there simply is no such correlation between damage to the car and personal injury. An experienced auto accident attorney will be able to put together a case which may result in a settlement, but sometimes a lawsuit may be necessary to resolve the issue.
Premises liability is the body of law that deals with the responsibility the owner of a property has to maintain safe conditions on the premises. If a landowner or the property’s occupant fails to warn about, or correct, a dangerous condition on the property, he or she may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result.
You may file a premises liability claim if you were injured on a property as a result of any number of different conditions the property owner, manager, or occupant may be responsible for, including:
- Cracked or slippery walking surfaces
- Torn carpeting
- Falling ceilings
- Poor lighting
- Potholes on or poorly maintained parking lots
- Toxic or flammable fumes in an enclosed area which cause an explosion
- Buildings or other improvements that do not comply with local building codes
- Unrestrained or improperly trained or socialized animals
- Inadequately guarded swimming pool
- Broken or defective guardrails or handrails
- Broken doors or windows
- Broken equipment such as a malfunctioning access gate
- No access control
- Weak locks
- Insufficient or poorly trained guards
- Poor management policies
- Wet floors
- Icy sidewalks
It is not enough for the dangerous condition to have existed on the property. Your injury must have occurred due to negligence on the part of the owner, manager, or occupant of the property. If any of these parties did not take prudent care of the property, or if their conduct was malicious, reckless, or intentional, you have a better chance of recovering damages.
The owner could still be held liable for an injury that took place on the property if he or she should reasonably have known of such the conditions that caused your injury.
Even though you may be a guest at the home of a friend or acquaintance, you still may have a claim as a result of negligence or a defect on a property.
Manufacturers of products released to the public have certain responsibilities to ensure that their products are safe and contain proper instructions and warnings. Product liability laws may be applicable if use of such a product results in someone’s injury or death.
Injuries resulting from the use of a defective product can involve product liability as well as other areas of the law, so there is no simple answer. A competent product liability attorney can help you determine if you have a worthwhile case.
For product liability laws to be applicable in a defective product case, generally three basic elements must be proven:
- The product has to have been in a defective condition or have been reasonably dangerous for its intended use. This could be as a result of negligence in the design of the product, a manufacturing defect due to improper inspections or quality control, and/or improper instructions or warnings.
- The product defect has to have existed prior to when it left the control of the manufacturer.
- The defect had to have been the “proximate cause” (not necessarily the only cause) of the injury or death.
Any or all of the following parties may be liable if a defective product caused injury:
- Those who designed the product
- Those who manufactured the product
- Those who sold the product
- Those who serviced or repaired the product
That depends on whether the product was used as intended or in a way that could have reasonably been foreseen. In some cases, the manufacturer may have received information about malfunctions of its product and failed in its “post sale duty to warn”. This may be determined if the manufacturer ignored its obligation to recall or retrofit the product or to include additional warnings before more injuries or deaths occurred.
Damages may include:
- Funeral expenses
- Past or future medical expenses
- Pain and emotional distress from the resulting disability or disfigurement
Diminished earning capacity
In some ways, yes. There are special training and licensing requirements of truck drivers and special Vehicle Code sections that apply to these drivers and their trucking companies. Commercial vehicle drivers are allowed to drive a limited number of hours per day and are subject to drug and alcohol tests at random intervals.
Trucking companies that operate semi-trucks or engage in interstate commerce have additional responsibilities to perform background checks on prospective drivers. They must also periodically evaluate their employees. Liability in an accident can also be established if there were violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act.
A large, fully loaded commercial truck can be more than 27 times heavier than a typical 3,000-pound automobile. The basic laws of physics make it likely that a collision between a commercial truck and a passenger car will result in serious, if not fatal injuries.
Federal law requires vehicles engaged in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for property damage and bodily injury. Most states also impose minimum insurance requirements on commercial vehicles not covered under the federal law.
In all truck accident cases, it is best to acquire competent legal representation and refer to them all communication requests by trucking companies, their legal representatives and their insurance carriers. You should also not provide them with any written statements or sign any medical or employment record releases until you have consulted with an attorney.
Often as soon as a trucking company or its insurance company learns that one of its vehicles was involved in an accident, its team of accident investigators is dispatched to the scene. Truck accident cases can be complicated, and this gives the trucking company a head start in setting up its defense.
By retaining a knowledgeable and experienced attorney early in the truck accident case, you stand a better chance of preserving valuable evidence that can prove beneficial later on. An attorney who begins to work on your case early on will be better prepared to evaluate the case by the time any claims must be filed.
One main difference is that monetary judgments are awarded to the estate of the victim rather than to the victim him or herself. For a wrongful death case to proceed, an executor or personal representative of the victim must be appointed in a separate probate proceeding. Each state has different rules with regard to who can sue for wrongful death, but in Maine this is the responsibility of the personal representative of the estate. Wrongful death cases can also include damages for loss of companionship and affection and for the loss of future potential earning capacity of the deceased.
In a wrongful death claim, the following damages are among those that may be recovered:
- Immediate expenses such as medical and funerary
- Loss of the decedent’s benefits such as medical coverage and pension
- Loss of inheritance due to the untimely death
- Mental anguish or pain and suffering to the survivors
- Pain and suffering the decedent endured prior to death
- General and punitive damages
- Loss of financial support of the decedent
If, for example, the decedent was a stay-at-home husband or wife, he or she may have guided, nurtured, and provided services to his or her family. These contributions may be quantified and recovered in a wrongful death case as “pecuniary losses”.
If a wrongful death suit is warranted, it should be filed sooner rather than later. Legal counsel should be retained as quickly as possible so that evidence is preserved and to ensure that circumstances surrounding the death are investigated promptly and thoroughly. An experienced wrongful death attorney will also be aware of the time limit or “statute of limitations” in which a wrongful death claim may be filed in the corresponding jurisdiction. Generally, in Maine, a wrongful action must be filed in court within two years of the date of death of the deceased.