If you or a loved one reside in or around Auburn, Maine, and were injured recently in an accident, we are here to help. Deciding whether to file a personal injury claim can feel heavy and daunting. Let our team guide you. 

Maine Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

It is important to remember that each situation is different, and the precise process for any accident victim’s case can vary. However, lawsuits generally follow a similar trajectory.

Below we discuss the Maine personal injury lawsuit process—but keep in mind the order of events can vary, and specific steps may not apply to you at all. 

Seek Medical Attention

While it may seem obvious, the very first step in a personal injury lawsuit begins with an accident and injury requiring medical treatment. Whether you have been in a car accident, a slip and fall, a dog bite attack, or some other incident that injures you, the first step is to seek immediate medical attention.

Often treatment begins with a trip to your local emergency room, but not always. The exact course of treatment will depend on the type and severity of the injury. Even if you do not initially experience pain or other symptoms, getting checked out by a doctor is crucial because many injuries develop or worsen over time.

If your injury does not present itself for a week or more, failure to get medically checked can harm your case, as the opposition may claim that your injury happened after the incident.

Gather Evidence and Documentation

Suppose you have an injury that negatively affects your life (e.g., you are out of work, unable to participate in daily activities, etc.). If so, you might be contemplating filing a lawsuit and seeking legal advice. It is an excellent time to start documenting what you can and gathering information relevant to your injury.

This might include taking photos, jotting down notes and witness names, requesting copies of medical bills and records, getting a copy of the police report, and more. Creating a folder or bin to place anything related to your accident is helpful. It may turn out to be unimportant, but in the alternative, something you collect could be a crucial piece of evidence in your case. If you are unsure how to obtain certain documents, don’t worry. Our attorneys can help expedite the process. 

Meet with an Auburn Personal Injury Attorney

Hiring an attorney is not required for filing a personal injury claim. However, it is a wise idea. An attorney could make the difference between accepting a lowball offer that leaves you with mounting medical bills that you can’t pay or getting compensated for the full value of your losses.

Personal injury attorneys interact with insurance companies, communicate with the courts, and deal with adversaries daily. While this may be unfamiliar territory for you, we are intimately familiar with the process. Proceeding with a civil lawsuit requires following specific legal requirements, timeframes, and court rules. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can help you succeed.

Make a Settlement Demand

If you decide to pursue compensation for your injuries, you typically make a settlement demand following the initiation of a claim. Your attorney will send your settlement demand to the defendant’s insurance company and their attorney if they have one. At this time, settlement negotiations typically begin.

Often, through negotiations, the parties will reach an agreement, and the case will settle outside the court. If the parties successfully reach an agreement, your case is almost over. You will wait for your settlement check, proceed with your recovery, and resume your life. 

File a Lawsuit

If you cannot settle your claim, it is time to consider initiating a lawsuit. Once the complaint is filed, the discovery process begins. Both sides will conduct an investigation and build their case. Your attorney will depose witnesses, consult experts, and exchange documents with opposing counsel while continuing settlement negotiations. 

Proceed to Trial

If the parties still cannot settle the case, they will proceed to trial. Each party will present their case to the judge or a jury. It is important to remember that as the plaintiff, you have the burden to prove your case. Most personal injury lawsuits rely on the theory of negligence. In other words, the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff injury. To succeed, you must prove the causal relationship between the defendant’s actions and your harm. 

Remember, this is a loose step-by-step trajectory of a typical personal injury case. For instance, sometimes, a settlement demand and negotiations only occur after a lawsuit is filed. No matter how your case proceeds, the overarching goal is always to get fair compensation for your losses.

Types of Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims stem from many kinds of accidents that cause a wide variety of injuries. If someone else’s negligence or conduct injures someone, they can file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. Let’s look at some common types of accidents that can give rise to a personal injury claim.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car, motorcycle, truck, bus, and boat accidents are among the most common reasons people file personal injury lawsuits. If the other driver’s negligence caused the accident and, as a result, your injury, you may be able to hold them accountable. For instance, you may be entitled to compensation if the driver who hits you is intoxicated, distracted, or otherwise disobeying traffic laws. 

Premise Liability

Premise liability claims involve accidents that take place on another’s property. Common examples include:

  • Slip and falls,
  • Dog bites,
  • Elevator accidents,
  • Construction accidents, and
  • Escalator collapse. 

Premise liability claims are often complex and involve extensive investigation, discovery, and litigation. Contact our Auburn personal injury attorneys if you were hurt and believe you might have a premise liability claim.

Product Liability 

Product liability claims generally involve a manufacturing defect, design defect, or failure to warn consumers of a known danger. Product liability claims frequently involve large corporations with unlimited budgets to defend against personal injury lawsuits. You can level the playing field by having a seasoned lawyer represent you in such a claim. 

Medical Malpractice

Modern medicine saves countless lives daily, but unfortunately, doctors and medical professionals also make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes can cause severe injuries and even death. Common medical malpractice injuries include the following:

  • Surgical mistakes (e.g., wrong surgical site, object left behind);
  • Birth injuries;
  • Failure to treat; and
  • Improper medication administration.

If a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional commits an error, you can seek compensation for your physical and mental injuries.

Common Injuries 

You are not required to sustain a particular type of injury to bring a personal injury claim. No injury is too insignificant. However, there are some common injuries that we see often, including the following:

  • Lacerations,
  • Broken bones,
  • Brain injuries,
  • Bruises,
  • Burns,
  • Neck and back injuries,
  • Spinal cord injuries,
  • Amputations, and
  • Paralysis.

If you do not see your injury listed here, that’s ok. This list is not exhaustive, and it is possible to have other injuries that can give rise to a successful claim.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

Every state has a statute of limitations or time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Many states allow plaintiffs two years from the date of injury to initiate their claim. However, Maine is unique and generally allows an injured victim up to six years to file their personal injury lawsuit. This is one of the most generous statute of limitations in the U.S. 

As with most laws, there are exceptions to the general rule, and depending on the situation, you may have less time to file your lawsuit. For instance, the time frame can be significantly less if you sue a government entity such as a municipality or city office. 

Typically, the six-year clock starts to run on the date of injury, and if you miss that deadline, you can be barred from ever bringing your claim to fruition. 

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

On rare occasions, accident victims will represent themselves in personal injury actions. However, we strongly advise against this. While it might be entirely feasible that you represent yourself in small claims court for a damaged fence caused by your neighbor’s tree, personal injury cases are often far more complex.

These cases often involve multiple parties, all represented by counsel. The Maine rules of civil procedure require strict adherence, and you must meet specific filing deadlines, comply with evidentiary rules, and handle large amounts of discovery. 

Personal injury lawsuits often involve defendants with deep pockets, such as insurance companies and large corporations. They have access to unfettered resources and will use those resources to intimidate a plaintiff into accepting a less-than-favorable settlement.

Often, taking a low settlement leaves victims in financial distress over time—because once you accept any settlement, you can not go back later to get more, regardless of how much more your injury costs you.

Personal injury claims can go far beyond seeking reimbursement for medical costs and lost wages. You can often get non-economic damages for intangible losses like pain and suffering as well. However, these subjective losses can be tough to prove without a skilled attorney. 

The Importance of Speaking with an Attorney Immediately

You should consult an attorney soon after an accident for many reasons. One reason is that the events are still fresh in your mind and in the mind of potential witnesses. Also, evidence such as surveillance footage might be more readily and easily available. If you wait, such evidence is often erased or recorded over. 

Secondly, even though Maine allows a generous timeframe for filing a claim when dealing with serious injuries and life-altering consequences, it is easy to lose track of time. You do not want to risk losing your right to seek compensation because you waited too long to get the process started.

How Much Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Most personal injury lawyers are paid on a contingency basis. In other words, you only pay the lawyer if they win your case and you receive settlement or award money. While we cannot speak for every lawyer, this is how our fee structure operates. At Mann Law, we are paid if and when you are, not before.

Auburn Personal Injury Attorney

Our Auburn, Maine, personal injury attorneys are committed to protecting you and your family and advocating for your rights after an accident. We have spent two decades compassionately advocating for our clients’ rights after an accident of some type threatens to take over their life.

We have established a legacy of success and look forward to helping you navigate this challenging time in your life. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.