FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. How much do you charge to review a case?

    Answer:  Appointments to review potential cases are free.

  2. What will it cost for you to represent me?

    Answer:  We commonly take a percentage of the recovery as our fee so that the client does not have to front any money, consequently if we do not win there is no fee.  This is called a contingency fee.

  3. Can you explain wrongful death in Maine?

    Answer: One hundred fifty years ago in most states, if a person died, any claim they had for their death died with them. This created a perverse motive to kill anyone that you badly injured. As a consequence of the unfairness of this, all states, including Maine, passed statutes to change that law.

    Read more about wrongful death claims in Maine.

  4. Do I have to pay my own medical bills if someone else caused the accident?

    Answer: How to handle medical bills while a claim is pending is one of the issues we deal with commonly.  The answer varies from case to case.  As a general proposition, the liability insurer for the wrongdoer will not pay medical bills until the case is settled.  They benefit by starving the injured person out.  They do not generally care that a person’s credit may be harmed or the person may have a hard time getting medical care.  

    Read more about handling medical bills.

  5. Will I be able to recover compensation if I was partly at fault in an accident?

    Answer: Many cases we take involve fault by our clients.  In Maine, the fault of the injured person and the wrongdoer are compared.  If the two are equally at fault, no legal recovery is allowed.  If the wrongdoer’s fault is greater than the injured person’s, then a jury is asked to reduce the injured party’s recovery to an amount that is “just and equitable.”  Juries are given great leeway in reducing a recovery because of an injured person’s own fault.

    Read more about comparative fault.

  6. Why Don't Airbags Always Work As We Expect?

    Answer:  One of the issues we see a couple times a year are questions about why airbags do not deploy in accidents.  The fact that an airbag does not deploy does not mean that the airbags are defective.  Much work is required to analyze a crash before knowing whether an airbag is defective.
    An understanding of airbags is helpful to understand why they do not sometimes deploy.  For the purposes here, we will focus on front airbags.  However, the same analysis would apply to side airbags.

    Read More about Defective Airbags

  7. How Do I Obtain Police Accident Reports in Maine?

    Answer:  One of the first things we do when involved in a case is to get the police report. The police report contains a lot of important information including such things as the names of witnesses. The police in Maine are required to prepare a standardized written report for any accident with an injury or with vehicle damage in excess of $1,000.00. The reports come on a standard computerized form. Copies of the report are filed with the State Department of Motor Vehicles usually within a week. In death cases, the police will normally do a reconstruction and then the report may take months to generate.  

    Read More about Maine Police Accident Reports 

  8. What is a contingency fee?

    Answer:  There are generally two ways to hire a lawyer.  One is by the hour and the other is a contingency fee.  In a contingency fee, the lawyer takes a percentage of recovery as a fee and gets paid nothing if there is no settlement.  In personal injury cases, it is very common for people to use contingency fees because they often cannot afford to pay an attorney on an hourly basis.  All contingency fee agreements in Maine must be in writing signed by both the attorney and the client.

  9. What is the time limit (statute of limitations) for me to make a claim for injuries?

    Answer:  It is impossible in this space to set forth all the statute of limitations rules that apply in the State of Maine. Each case should be reviewed by an attorney to make sure the correct limitation is applied. These rules can be complex and sometimes even lawyers get them wrong. However, the general rule in Maine is that civil lawsuits (like from a car accident) have to be filed within 6 years of the date of the accident. Some of the exceptions include claims against states and municipalities, cases against the servers of alcohol, cases where the wrongdoer has died, medical malpractice, assault, slander, cases against ski mountains, certain insurance claims, and death of the injured person, to name a few.

  10. How much will I recover from a settlement or a judgment?

    Answer:  There is no standard method for evaluating a likely settlement in a given case.  Case value is very case specific.  It depends on factors including liability, the nature and extent of injuries, nature and extent of permanent disabilities, economic loss (including lost wages and medical bills), disfigurement, pain and suffering, and a host of other considerations.  While in the course of representing clients, we evaluate cases based on our experience and settlements or trials of similar cases. No precise method exists for predicting how much an individual will recover.

  11. Will my case go to trial?

    Answer:  The majority of claims handled by our office settle before trial.  Statewide, approximately 9 out of 10 cases settle without a jury trial.  However, because we cannot predict whether or not a case will settle without a trial, our attorneys prepare all cases  assuming that if a fair and just settlement cannot be reached, we will be prepared to take the matter to trial on behalf of our clients.  Quite frankly, probably the best way to get a fair settlement is to be prepared to take the case to trial before a jury.

  12. Are there special rules for claims against doctors or hospitals?

    Answer:  In Maine, doctors and hospitals are protected by special rules which limit both when cases can be brought against them and how the cases are presented.  One of the most significant limitations is that before a case can go to court, it has to proceed through a medical malpractice screening panel.  The screening panels are normally made up of a person with judicial experience, a medical professional with a background similar to the person who is being charged, and an attorney.  Unanimous findings of the panel are admissible if the matter goes to court.  As a result of these special rules, the cases against doctors and hospitals take additional time and require special expertise.
  13. Do you handle cases for children?

    Answer:  Many of our cases involve children including babies. Children present special issues for several reasons. First and foremost, analyzing and presenting claims that will impact them sixty or eighty years in the future or more have special challenges. How will the injury affect their ability to earn? Will they develop medical complications such as arthritis late in life from the injury? Will they need special services such as counseling or physical therapy over their lifetime? At Skelton, Taintor & Abbott we use world class experts to develop our cases to evaluate the medical, social and vocational impacts of injuries on children in a presentation of their claims.
  14. What if I am hurt at work?

    Answer:  If the person is hurt at work, they may be entitled to benefits of workers’ compensation insurance.  In the State of Maine, the Workers’ Compensation Board has representatives who will assist employees in filing claims or to provide them information.  However, in larger workers’ compensation cases, we will represent employees.  In work injuries, if the injuries are caused by somebody other than the employer, an employee can also go to court against that person and collect their workers’ compensation, although there are offset rules that apply.  If you were hurt at work and you believe it was the fault of someone other than your employer, it is critical that prompt investigation be undertaken to secure evidence, identify witnesses, and to determine whether sufficient facts exist to justify a claim against another person or entity.
  15. What if I have a claim against a city, county, state, or other government agency?

    Answer:  Claims against state entities are subject to the Maine Torts Claim Act.  This statute imposes special requirements.  Notice must be filed within six months, a case must be filed within two years, and special statutory immunities and other limitations apply.  The state statutes and cases interpreting it are thousands of pages long and for that reason, it is impossible to describe in detail all the peculiarities of making claims against public entities.  We have handled cases against cities, counties, school districts, water districts, states, and the federal government, to mention a few.  Because the claims filing period against these government agencies is short, it is very important that a person who believes that they have been injured through government action contact an attorney immediately.
  16. I was injured in a traffic accident by either someone who had no insurance or not enough insurance.  Is there anything that I can do?

    Answer:  Although Maine motorists are required to have insurance, the fact of the matter is that some drivers do not have insurance or do not have much insurance.  At this time, the minimum policy limits are $50,000 per person, and $100,000 per accident.  However, most people have on their own insurance coverage called uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  Depending on the nature and extent of their coverage, you may have a claim against your own automobile insurer if the person who hurts you in a car accident either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance.
  17. Can I go to small claims court for the property damage to my car and still bring a personal injury claim after?

    Answer: No. The law does not allow claims to be split. If a small claims matter were tried and heard, you would be barred from making a later personal injury claim.
  18. I have a question that is not listed here.

    Answer:  Skelton, Taintor & Abbott personal injury attorneys are available to answer questions over the phone or via e-mail.  You can also call about a particular case to arrange a free appointment.  Please telephone us toll-free at 1-800-639-7026 or 207-784-3200.

     

    One hundred fifty years ago in most states, if a person died, any claim they had for their death died with them. This created a perverse motive to kill anyone that you badly injured. As a consequence of the unfairness of this, all states, including Maine, passed statutes to change that law.

    Read more about wrongful death claims in Maine.