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Ways to Protect Yourself from Maine’s Uninsured Drivers

images-191Maine’s Motor Vehicle Insurance Laws: Coverage Amounts and Uninsured Motorist Supplemental Policies

In Maine,  drivers are required by law to carry a minimum of $50,000 in insurance coverage per person,  and $100,000 per accident.  If a motorist is stopped by police and can not show proof of insurance,  they are fined. Maine drivers are also required to purchase supplemental uninsured motorist coverage.  In the event that they are involved in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver,  that supplemental uninsured motorist policy allows accident victims to recover insurance money from their own insurance company.

Despite  strict laws concerning uninsured motorists in Maine,  it is estimated that 42,000 of Maine’s 930,000 drivers remain uninsured.   According to recent Bureau of Motor Vehicles statistics, 3,614 Maine drivers failed to provide  proof of insurance during a one year period.  These drivers were subsequently convicted of uninsured driving when they did not show proper proof of insurance within a twenty day grace period.  Keeping uninsured motorists off the road isn’t as easy as many of us would like to believe.

Maine’s Uninsured Drivers: Sobering Statistics 

Although there is a substantial fine for motorists who fail to provide proper proof of insurance, (along with a suspension of their license),  many Maine motorists continue to flout the law and drive without insurance coverage. Motorists drive without insurance for many reasons;  none of them are acceptable under the law.  In some cases,  they simply can’t afford to pay their insurance bill,  but continue to drive despite the fact that they are clearly breaking the law and endangering other motorists. Other drivers are uninsurable because they have had their license suspended or taken away,  often as a result of their involvement in serious automobile accidents where they are deemed to be the at fault/negligent driver.  Or, they may be faced with an extremely high insurance premium which they can’t afford after being involved in one (or more) at fault accidents. The latter categories of uninsured motorists is often the most dangerous, because it includes drivers who have lost their legal right to drive due to impaired/drunken driving,  or other negligent driving offenses which may have caused serious motor vehicle accidents and injuries. Although Maine has lower rates of uninsured drivers than many other states,  the number of uninsured motorists still poses a serious threat to the state’s lawfully abiding, properly insured drivers.  Maine police estimate that 225 drivers are injured every year by uninsured drivers.  That number may seem low,  but if you ask a properly insured driver who has been injured by an uninsured driver,  that “relatively small number” is a cold comfort indeed.

Supplemental Uninsured Motorist Policies

Maine is an “at fault” insurance state.  This means that if you are involved in an automobile accident with another driver who is determined to be “at fault”,   the at-fault driver is liable for your injuries and medical costs.  As long as the motorist has cooperated with Maine’s automobile insurance laws and carries the minimum coverage, the at fault motorist’s insurance company usually pays the injured motorist for any damages incurred. However,  if the damages you suffer exceed the at fault motorist’s total insurance coverage,  the negligent driver is responsible for the excess amount,  and must make up the difference using personal assets.  Unfortunately,  many negligent drivers without insurance coverage don’t have enough assets to cover those excess damages (underinsured drivers). Maine drivers should always carry proper motor vehicle insurance,  including uninsured motorist protection.  It may be wise to carry additional uninsured motorist coverage in the event that your injuries are serious (some experts suggest additional supplemental coverage of $500,000 per accident, especially in cases where an at fault motorist was underinsured). If you are injured in an automobile accident,  medical and rehabilitation bills can easily exceed the minimum amount required by Maine’s standard uninsured motorist policy.  If your injury prevents you from working, substantially changes your quality of life and the type of medical care you’ll need in the future,  you deserve to be compensated for lost wages, emotional suffering and long term care.  But remember,  the minimum uninsured (or underinsured) motorist policy typically won’t cover even a small portion of those expenses. If you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist,  it is wise to contact an experienced Maine personal injury attorney to review your case.  Even if you carry supplemental uninsured motorist coverage,  you still have a legal right to file a claim against the negligent driver.  The Hardy, Wolf and Downing personal injury team is highly effective in helping victims of uninsured, underinsured and negligent drivers obtain the compensation they deserve. Remember: hiring an effective, experienced personal injury attorney who understands cases involving uninsured and underinsured at fault motorists can significantly improve your chances of obtaining the just and fair compensation you deserve.