Maine Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Maine, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Maine statutes in each section.

Here are the Maine car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.
Section 29A-2056

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrians is permitted to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the operator to yield.
Section 29A-2056

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk signal is showing.
Section 29A-2057

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 29A-2056

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 29A-2056

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk.
Section 29A-2056

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.
Section 29A-2056

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

The driver of a vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any obviously intoxicated pedestrian upon any roadway.
Section 29A-2056

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices.
Section 29A-2501

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

When a public way has a divider, a vehicle may be driven only on the right-hand way.
Section 29A-2052

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 29A-2070

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within one hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 29A-2070

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 29A-2070

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.

A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 29A-2066

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers who are under 18 years of age must not drive while using a mobile electronic device.
Section 29A-2116

Drivers who are 18 years of age or older must not use a mobile electronic device to send, read, or receive text messages, including email messages.
Section 29A-2119

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver to their right.
Section 29A-2053

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 29A-2053

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from a private way must yield the right of way to all other drivers on the roadway and to pedestrians.
Section 29A-2053

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway. A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane. Motorcyclists must not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane.
Section 29A-2062

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 29A-2062

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists under 18 years of age must wear helmets while riding on roadways.
Section 29A-2083

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle riding on a roadway must be equipped with one headlight that is turned on.
Section 29A-1904
Section 29A-2062

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in a manner that endangers a person or the property of another person is guilty of Driving to Endanger, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 29A-2413

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license and proof of liability insurance to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 29A-2252

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license and proof of liability insurance to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 29A-2252

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to another car or property which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has given their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and upon request, exhibited their driver's license and proof of liability insurance to any person involved in the accident.
Section 29A-2253
Section 29A-2255

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license and proof of liability insurance.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license and proof of liability insurance.
Section 29A-2254

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $1,000 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office.
Section 29A-2251

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

A law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident must interview participants and witnesses, and send an electronic report or the original written report containing all available information to the Chief of the State Police within 5 days of accident.
Section 29A-2251

Accident Report Forms

The Chief of the State Police must prepare and supply accident report form that require sufficiently detailed information about the cause, conditions, persons and vehicles involved in an accident.
Section 29A-2251

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage while the car is traveling on Maine roadways. An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in the trunk of a vehicle or behind the rearmost upright seat where a passenger does not normally sit.

Passengers of a hired vehicle (other than a taxicab) and passengers in the living quarters of a motor home can consume and possess an opened container.
Section 29A-2112A

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Maine, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating Under the Influence if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Section 29A-2411

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 29A-2508

Liability Laws

Maine Dram Shop Law

Maine has a Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.

Under Maine law, a person who knowingly sells or serves alcohol to a minor or an obviously intoxicated person is liable for the personal injuries and property damages caused by the intoxicated person.
Section 28A-2506

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Maine, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $25,000 per person
  • At least $50,000 for two or more people
  • $100,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 29A-1605

Maine Insurance Information

For information about insurance requirements, see the Maine Bureau of Insurance Consumer Guide.

Comparative Negligence

In Maine, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.

If the victim contributed 50% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Section 14-156

Example of Comparative Negligence

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's was considerably negligent for the accident, but that Melanie contributed to some degree. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Melanie equally contributed to the accident, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence: Section 14-156
Right of Way: Section 29A-2053
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 29A-2119

Maine's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Maine, the law requires car owners to purchase liability insurance. The victim of a car accident can choose to file a claim under their own insurance policy, file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

For information about insurance requirements, see the Maine Bureau of Insurance Consumer Guide.

Statute of Limitations

Maine has a six year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within six years, or file a lawsuit.

If the victim fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the six year period the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 14-752

Small Claims Courts

In Maine, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $6,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.
Section 14-7482

Maine Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Maine, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Section 14-8104A

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Portland Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Portland would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused by her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Portland can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.

Section 14-8104A
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Maine

Maine Department of Transportation

Maine State Legislature

Maine Department of Public Safety

Governors Highway Safety Association

Maine Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

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