Last year was an unusually deadly one for motorcyclists in Maine. The state ended 2015 with 32 motorcycle fatalities, the highest number since 1991. Officials are unable to point to a single cause behind the significant, sudden increase in deaths.
If you’re a motorcycle rider in Maine, knowing the answers to some frequently asked questions can help you protect yourself.
How Many Motorcycle Accidents Happen in Maine?
Too many. Between 2008 and 2012, almost 3,000 crashes involving motorcycles occurred in Maine. As a result, 96 people died.
And it’s getting worse: In 2015, motorcycle fatalities in Maine hit a 24-year high.
What Are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
- Motorcyclists are put in danger by drivers who violate traffic laws, who drive distracted, and who “do not see” the motorcycle.
- Motorcyclists at times put themselves at an increased risk of an accident by operating at a high rate of speed.
Is a Special License Required for Riding a Motorcycle?
Yes. You must complete a motorcycle rider education course in Maine to earn a motorcycle permit and become eligible for a motorcycle license. If you’re between the ages of 16 and 18, you’ll be required to complete a basic driver education course before you can enroll in a required motorcycle safety course.
Within two years of getting a motorcycle permit, you must take a road test and vision test to get your license. If you don’t complete the licensing process within the two-year window, you’ll be required to take the written exam again to get a new permit. Read more about Maine’s motorcycle laws here.
Does Maine Require Riders to Wear Helmets?
Maine doesn’t require everyone to wear a helmet. Riders required to wear helmets include those:
- Younger than 18 and operating a motorcycle.
- Younger than 18 and riding a motorcycle as a passenger or in an attached sidecar.
- Operating under a learner’s permit.
- Operating for the first year after successfully completing a driving test.
- Riding as passengers of operators required to wear a helmet.
The Maine law that required every motorcycle rider to wear a helmet was repealed in 1977.
What Should a Rider Do After an Accident?
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, consider working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Many factors can influence the outcome of your case. It’s important to gather and record as much information as possible about the facts of your accident. Delaying hiring an attorney may have no impact on your case. On the other hand, delay may cause you to lose your opportunity to make a claim. A number of laws in Maine limit the time for filing a claim. if your accident involved a governmental entity or an employee, you may have as little as 180 days to file a notice of claim. if you are insured by a drunk driver and have a claim against a bar or restaurant for serving the driver while visibly intoxicated, you must file a notice of claim within 180 days.
What if the Motorcycle Rider Was at Fault?
Maine follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. A motorcyclist who was 50% or more at fault in the accident is not entitled to recover compensation. A motorcyclist who is partially but less than 50% at fault is entitled to compensation but recovery may be reduced by an amount the jury finds is “just and equitable” under the circumstances. We had a case where the jury found our client partially at fault, but also found that it was “just and equitable” not to reduce the client’s damages at all. This result is permitted under Maine law.
What if Someone Else Was at Fault?
If you’ve suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you are entitled to compensation. The types of compensation may include:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Permanent impairment and disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering
The value of your case will depend on the extent and severity of your injuries.
What if the Other Party Was Uninsured?
If the party at fault in a motorcycle accident is uninsured, your own insurance policy provides uninsured motorist coverage. Your uninsured motorist coverage provides protection to you and your passengers when injured due to the fault of:
- A hit-and-run driver.
- An unidentified driver causing you to swerve off the road or lay down your motorcycle to avoid a crash.
- A driver who has no insurance (uninsured driver).
- A driver who has liability insurance policy limits that are lower than your uninsured motorist limits (underinsured driver).
Image via Flickr by Uriah Welcome