Maine Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 6 years from the discovery of the injury
- Damage to Personal Property – 6 years
- Medical Malpractice – 3 years from the discovery of the injury
- Legal Malpractice – 4 years
- Other Professional Malpractice – 4 years
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $6,000 - Maine Small Claims Court (a division of the Maine District Court)
- Personal injury claims over $6,000 - Maine District Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: Statement of Claim (Form SC-001); Request for Disclosure Hearing (Form SC-003); Notice of Service (Form SC-005).
- Where to file: You should file your Maine personal injury lawsuit in the Small Claims Court where the defendant lives or does business, or where the injury occurred.
- How to notify the defendant (service): Try to first notify the defendant by mailing the forms to the defendant by certified or registered mail. If this option is not possible, a sheriff, deputy, or uninterested person should deliver the papers to the defendant. The plaintiff may ask the clerk to arrange for service on the defendant by completing an Affidavit and Request for Service (Form SC-006).
- Proving the defendant was notified: If you mailed the Notice of Service, Request for Disclosure Hearing and Statement of Claim forms to the defendant, the receipt is sufficient proof of service and must be filed with the clerk of the Maine Small Claims Court within 20 days of service. If service is made by a sheriff, deputy, or civil process server, that person should file a return of service with the clerk.
- Attorneys: You may have a lawyer in Maine Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: Appeals are permitted to the Maine Superior Court within 30 days of the judgment.
Maine District Court: To avoid making costly errors in filing and preparing your personal injury lawsuit, you should get advice from a Maine personal injury attorney.
- Forms/Filing: Complaint and Summons. You can get these forms from the Maine District Court Clerk where you file your personal injury suit. You can then file these forms in the District Court where the defendant lives, works, or where the plaintiff was injured.
- How to Notify the Defendant: Notify the defendant in the same manner as in Maine Small Claims Court (see above).
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Maine: 20 days.
- If the plaintiff sues you for an injury that happened at your house or employment, you should notify your insurance company because your insurance carrier may cover the plaintiff’s claim and supply a lawyer. Whether or not your insurance carrier covers your claim, you should contact a lawyer to help you defend against the plaintiff’s claim.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
In Maine, you must respond to a Summons and Complaint within 20 days of service, or the court will enter a default judgment against you and require you to pay the plaintiff’s damages.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Maine:
- A Maine court may set aside a judgment for mistake, surprise, fraud, because the defendant was not properly served, or because the judgment was void within a reasonable time, but not more than 6 months after the date of judgment
- If you are in default, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer who may be able to help you set aside the default judgment.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- Collecting a judgment after a successful personal injury lawsuit can be a long and trying process. You can attempt to collect the judgment by attachment, garnishment, or by placing a lien on the defendant’s property. Obtaining counsel from a debt collection lawyer can make the process much smoother and less frustrating.