If you were a passenger in a Maine car accident, dealing with medical expenses and lost pay can feel particularly unfair. You likely had no way to stop the crash from occurring and your life was in the hands of the person driving and other drivers on the road. Common injuries that passengers sustain in a car accident are broken bones, organ damage, facial disfigurement or scarring from broken glass, and eye injuries. The experienced Maine car accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates can help you recover the compensation you deserve if you were hurt in a car accident due to someone else's negligent or reckless driving.Negligent Driving
In Maine, passengers making a claim for negligence must prove four elements: (1) duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) proximate cause and (4) damages. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely with attention to the weather and traffic conditions. A passenger must not only show that the driver breached that duty and the breach was the actual cause of his injuries, but also that the breach was the "proximate cause" of his injuries.
"Proximate cause" in this context means that the law recognizes an act or omission as a legal cause of the injuries at issue because the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in bringing about the injuries. However, this rule only applies if there is no law relieving the defendant from liability. Where a superseding cause breaks the chain of events, for example, it may be possible for a driver to argue his actions were not the proximate cause of a passenger's injuries.
In some cases, a driver or his insurer may defend against a passenger's claims by trying to blame the passenger for distracting the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding. Common complaints by a driver include a passenger engaging the driver in a debate, grabbing the steering wheel for fun, or talking loudly with other passengers or on a cell phone.
If a driver is able to show that you distracted him or her, your recovery may reduced by the amount to which a jury finds you at fault, under a comparative negligence theory. In Maine, your recovery as a plaintiff is barred if you are found to be equally at fault with or more at fault than a defendant.Witnessing the Injury or Death of a Loved One
In Maine, a bystander who witnesses a negligent injury to a loved one, or his wrongful death, may be able to recover damages for severe emotional distress. If you are a passenger who has witnessed the death of a loved one due to another driver's negligence, you may be able to recover for the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress.
To recover under this theory, you must be able to show you were present, that you suffered severe emotional distress because you witnessed the accident as it happened and that you were closely related to the victim. What "closely related" means has not yet been defined under Maine law, but most lawyers would argue that you qualify as closely related if you were a parent, spouse, or child of the injured person or decedent.Retain a Trustworthy Maine Passenger Injury Attorney
If you are a passenger who was hurt in a car accident, you should seek the guidance of a knowledgeable Maine car accident lawyer for help in obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries. An experienced attorney may be able to find multiple sources of compensation, including the insurers for other drivers involved in the accident. Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form to set up your free consultation.