Comparative Negligence in Maine

Under Maine’s modified contributory negligence law, you are only entitled to damage claims from a car accident if you’re 49% or less at fault.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Maine is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning you can only submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance if you are 49% or less at fault. 
Your state’s comparative negligence laws will determine how much of the damages you can claim from an at-fault driver after an accident. Being familiar with comparative negligence law will help you handle your insurance claims properly.
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a principle that requires fault to be assigned so that the plaintiff can recover damage costs from the at-fault party. 
For example, let’s say you get into an accident with another driver, and you are assigned 20% of the fault. You will then be responsible for covering 20% of the damages. Since the other driver was assigned 80% of the fault, they will be required to cover 80% of the damages.
Personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurance claims both use comparative negligence principles. In both cases, a portion of the fault will be assigned to the parties involved. The parties are then responsible for paying their percentage of damage costs.

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

There are three different principles of comparative negligence: pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Depending on the state you are in, the comparative negligence law will follow one of the principles below: 
  • Pure comparative negligence: All parties involved will have to pay for damages in proportion to the percentage of fault they receive. 
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: The injured party can claim damages relative to their assigned fault only if it is under 50 or 51%. 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party cannot claim any compensation if they are assigned any fault. 
Currently, there are 12 states that base their law on pure comparative negligence and 5 states that base their law on contributory negligence.

What is Maine’s comparative negligence law? 

Maine is a modified comparative negligence state, so you can only submit a claim to the other driver’s insurer if you are assigned 49% or less fault
To put this in context, if you are found to be 40% at fault, you will be able to file a claim for your damages with the other driver. The other driver will not be entitled to recover their damages since their assigned fault is over 49%.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

In an accident where more than two individuals are at fault, the fault will still be divided amongst all parties involved. As long as your assigned fault is 49% or less, you are entitled to file a claim with either or both insurance companies. The insurance companies will pay you based on the fault assigned to each driver. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

The percentage of fault that insurance companies assign is calculated based on the evidence they receive with the claim, as well as police reports.
It’s in your best interest to take down as much information as possible to submit with your claim. In particular, try to include the road conditions, weather, time and date, and the details about the cars involved in the accident. Taking down the other drivers’ information would also be helpful.
If there were witnesses, try your best to record what they saw and take pictures of any damages and the surrounding area. The photos will serve as objective evidence to verify your statements. 
A detailed record of the incident can help insurance providers assign fault accordingly.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

Since Maine is a modified comparative negligence state, you are only allowed to recover damages from another driver’s insurance company if your blame is 49% or less. Your compensation will be proportional to the percentage of fault assigned to the other driver.
Imagine a scenario where you are driving through an intersection with a four-way stop. Another car at the four-way stop also comes through the intersection and ends up hitting the side of your car.
After the insurance companies do an investigation, they find that the other driver didn’t stop because they were
texting while driving
. However, they also find that you did a rolling stop before going through the intersection. Since the other driver was distracted, 60% of the blame is assigned to them, and since you didn’t stop properly, you were assigned 40% of the blame.
According to Maine’s comparative negligence law, you can claim 40% of your damages with the other driver’s insurance company. However, the other driver will not be entitled to make a claim with your insurance provider since they are over 50% at fault.

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Yes. Since insurance premiums are calculated using several factors, including your driving history, an at-fault accident could increase your premiums by at least 20%.
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