Maine Injury Settlements and Verdicts

Ten years ago, I posted data showing the average personal injury verdict in Maine was approximately $27,000. These numbers do not tend to change much historically. So my guess is the average personal injury settlement in Maine is between $10,000 and $20,000.

But you have to understand how useless that is if you have a personal injury claim in Maine and you are trying to calculate or predict your settlement compensation payout.

Sample settlements and verdicts are not necessarily much better at projecting settlement amounts. But these are weapons you can use to better understand potential settlement compensation for an injury case in Maine.

Maine Injury Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2022, Maine: $10,000,000 Settlement. Child allegedly suffered a fractured skull, brain damage and permanent blindness as a result of being physically abused while under the care of a federally funded medical clinic. The mother filed a lawsuit under the FTCA claiming that the clinic negligently failed to report obvious signs of abuse as required by state law after the child was repeatedly brought to the clinic with physical trauma injuries in the months leading up to the event.
  • 2019, Maine: $1,200,000 Verdict. A woman’s leg was hit by a wooden plank. She suffered significant bleeding. An x-ray revealed internal bleeding and swelling. The woman received narcotic pain relievers. She was subsequently discharged. The following day, the woman suffered purpura. She underwent an emergency procedure with debridement. The woman eventually underwent a skin graft. She experienced permanent pain, swelling, and shin scars. The woman alleged negligence against the hospital. She claimed its staff prematurely discharged her and failed to consult a surgeon. The Aroostook County jury awarded the woman $1,200,000.
  • 2018, Maine: $25,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended in Portland. She injured her head, neck, and back. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he drove while drunk, failed to timely brake, and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. A Cumberland County jury awarded $25,000.
  • 2018, Maine: $4,850 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended. She suffered a traumatic brain injury. The woman also developed a psychosomatic disorder. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he failed to properly control his vehicle, maintain an appropriate distance, and properly observe the road. A Cumberland County jury awarded $4,850.
  • 2018, Maine: $8,247 Verdict. A female passenger was sideswiped. She injured her back and neck. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She received an $8,247 verdict.
  • 2018, Maine: $250,000 Verdict. A truck driver was struck while parked at a rest stop. He suffered severe injuries. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed she unsafely sped and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The Penobscot County jury awarded a payout of $250,000.
  • 2017, Maine: $2,000,000 Verdict. A man broke his wrist after a kayak fell on his right hand. He underwent a repair procedure. The hand surgeon left a screw in his wrist. Following the procedure, the man suffered wrist arthrosis and articular cartilage fissure and fracture. He underwent additional procedures. The man alleged negligence against the hand surgeon. He claimed he failed to remove the screw and failed to examine post-operative films.  He further alleged that as the result of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems’ negligent repair of his bone fracture,  he sustained a permanent injury that caused pain and suffering, lost income, and emotional distress. The Penobscot County jury unanimously awarded the man $2,000,000.
  • 2017, Maine: $131,000 Verdict. A 39-year-old man was rear-ended. He sustained a pinched nerve and neck strain. He developed worsening neck arthritis and hand numbness. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he tailgated him and failed to maintain an appropriate distance. The Kennebec County jury awarded $131,000.
  • 2017, Maine: $240,000 Verdict. A man suffered a finger laceration and numbness. He presented to the ER. The man received sutures. He was subsequently discharged. The man’s finger numbness failed to resolve. The man visited his primary care provider. However, he did not receive an orthopedic surgeon referral. The man’s finger numbness continued for another month. He visited his primary care physician again. The man received an orthopedic surgeon referral. He presented to the surgeon after a month. The man underwent a finger amputation. He alleged negligence against the ER and primary care physicians. The man claimed they discharged him too soon and failed to timely make a specialist referral. An Aroostook County jury awarded a compensation payout of $240,000.

What is striking is how few personal injury lawsuits there are in Maine that goes to trial.  The last wrongful death lawsuit that went to trial in Maine we have seen was in 2015.

Statute of Limitations in Maine

In general personal injury cases, Maine has a very pro-victim statute of limitations in personal injury cases. Personal injury plaintiffs in Maine generally must file their lawsuits within six years of the date that they know or have reason to know of their injury.

You always have to be careful when giving blank rules on statute of limitations which is why I qualify with “generally” when I discuss the six-year limitations period.  Because deadlines can be shorter. For instance, there are different notice and filing deadlines when suing the state of Maine or other municipalities.  So the answer is to call a Maine personal injury lawyer who can give you advice on the deadline to file a lawsuit. This is, I believe, the longest statute of limitations in the United States.

There is also a different statute of limitations period in Maine for medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice claims in Maine must be filed within 3-years of when the claim accrues. 24 M.R.S. §29020. Wrongful death claims must be filed within 2 years of the date of death. 18-A M.R.S. §2-804


What Goes into Calculating Settlement Amounts in Maine?

In Maine, tort case are valued for settlement based on various factors. These factors determine the amount of compensation a plaintiff may receive for their injuries or losses. Some of the critical factors that influence the valuation of personal claims in Maine include:

  1. Evidence: The plaintiff’s chances of success at trial is always the primary driving factor in settlement valuation. Defendants are willing to offer more money to settle a case if they are afraid of losing at trial. Cases supported by strong, credible evidence have a better chance of success at trial.
  2. Economic Damages: Economic damages include things such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the injury. Cases with higher economic damages are typically worth more at settlement.
  3. Non-Economic Damages: These are non-quantifiable losses a plaintiff experiences due to injury or malpractice. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are subjective.  The award is really what the jury thinks is the monetary compensation that is just.
  4. The Defendant’s Financial Resources: The defendant’s financial resources – or the size of the defendant’s insurance policy – can make a difference if there are limited assets or insurance coverage. Defendant’s with deep pockets or lots of insurance will push the case value up.
  5. Your Lawyer: Good lawyers with a history of success get better results. Period.

Maine Damage Caps

Maine is the rare state that caps pain and suffering damages in wrongful death lawsuits – at $750,000, bumped from $250 in 2019 – but does not cap damages in other personal injury cases.

In addition to the wrongful death pain and suffering cap in Maine, §2-806 Title 18-C of the Probate Code also caps punitive damages at $250,000.

Maine Comparative Fault Rule

In cases where the plaintiff’s own negligence contributes to the accident or injury, Maine has adopted a modified comparative fault rule. Under the comparative fault rule, a plaintiff’s damages are discounted or reduced by the percentage share of their fault. So if a plaintiff is found to be 30% at-fault for their own injuries, then their damages would be reduced by 30%.

In a pure comparative fault system, the plaintiff can recover damages no mater how high their share of fault is. Maine has modified comparative fault, which holds that if the plaintiff’s share of fault is greater than 50% they are barred from recovering any damages at all.

Expert Needed in Maine Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

For claims of medical malpractice in Maine, a plaintiff ordinarily can discharge his burden of proof for a claim of negligent medical care only by expert medical testimony establishing the appropriate standard of medical care, that the defendant departed from the standard, and that the negligent conduct proximately caused the plaintiffs injury.”  But Maine courts “commonly hold expert medical testimony unnecessary in cases involving egregious mistreatment where the malpractice is sufficiently apparent as to lie within the understanding of laymen.

Maine Prelitigation Screening of Medical Malpractice Cases

Maine has adopted a mandatory prelitigation screening process for all medical malpractice cases. Under this system, a prospective malpractice plaintiff must file a notice of claim with all of the healthcare providers that will be named as defendants. Those providers then get an opportunity to respond in writing, after which a screening panel is compiled.

The screening panel reviews the claim and then issues an opinion on the validity of the plaintiffs’ allegations. If the panel makes a unanimous determination it is admissible in court, otherwise the panel’s decision is confidential. It is also non-binding. The detailed rules for the malpractice screening process in Maine are set forth in Main Rev. Stat. § 24-2852.

No Malpractice Damages Cap in Maine

Maine has a general cap on non-economic damages that applies across the board to all wrongful death cases, including medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death claims. It does not, however, have any additional damage caps that apply specifically to medical malpractice cases.

Maine Strict Liability Dog Bite Rule

Maine is among those states that have adopted a strict liability system for holding dog owners liable. Under Maine Rev. Stat. § 7-3961, dog owners will automatically be liable for any injuries caused by their dog regardless of whether the dog had a history of aggression. The only exceptions to this are for cases in which the injured party provoked the attack or was a trespasser.

Maine Sex Abuse Civil Lawsuits

Victims of sexual abuse or assault in Maine can bring civil lawsuits and seek monetary compensation. In 2021, Maine enacted a new law that retroactively lifted the statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil lawsuits. This has enabled victims of sexual abuse that occurred decades earlier to seek justice in the civil courts. The Catholic Diocese of Portland, ME is currently challenging whether the new law violates the state constitution. At least one judge has already upheld the new law, but an appeal to the Maine Supreme Court is pending.

Maine Product Liability and Mass Tort Cases

Product manufacturers and sellers can be held liable under Maine law if that product is defective and that defect causes injuries or harm. Maine law acknowledges the 3 basic types of product defects as identified in the Restatement of Torts: manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn.

There are a number of national mass torts or “class actions” that involve Maine plaintiffs, including claims our law firm is handling across the country:

  • Hair relaxer lawsuit: recent evidence has shown that long term use of chemical hair relaxer products can cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and other conditions. This has prompted hundreds of women to file hair relaxer lawsuits.
  • Tylenol autism lawsuit: new studies have determined that using Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy can cause the baby to develop autism or ADHD. This has prompted a growing class action lawsuit by parents of children with autism and ADHD.
  • Camp Lejeune lawsuit: A new law allowed individuals exposed to the toxic water at the Camp Lejeune marine corps base in North Carolina to file claims for compensation.
  • Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit:  Suboxone is a drug used to help with opioid addiction. It causes severe tooth decay and other dental injuries and now a growing tide of lawsuits are being filed for failing to warn about this issue.
  • Bard PowerPort lawsuit: the Bard PowerPort is a port catheter implant used by cancer patients undergoing chemo. It has design flaws that cause it to malfunction resulting in serious injuries which has prompted product liability lawsuits across the country.
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