Poor Timing as Maine Considers Revoking Seatbelt Law After 75-Car Pileup

By ALANNA DURKIN | March 4, 2015

  • March 6, 2015 at 7:52 am
    Stush says:
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    Only i n America can you make safety a political “choice”. So there is a liberal and a conservative reading of the fact that seatbelts save lives? Yes, those who want “freedom” are willing to accept the threat of a small fine as a trade off for their personal safety. But past experience has been that the consequences of someone’s personal choice are the stuff that make for a good lawsuit. the need for more “freedom” is always subject to change when the “choice” ends up costing them money, time and their own health; then it is all about “fairness”. The problem I have with this is whether the trade off is enforced: if you don’t wear a seatbelt, don’t complain about the medical or funeral expenses that result when the choice results in physical harm to oneself or others. Hold harmless argreements only stand when both sides agree to enforce them; a good plaintiff’s attorney will attack such agreements in order to get their foot in the door for a “just” settlement. I see this repeal as a good way to drum up busienss for the trial bar and ultimately will end up increasing the costs of auto accidents.

  • March 9, 2015 at 10:23 am
    JOhn says:
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    If they revoke the law, I hope that they include a provision that any costs including medical incurred in an accident as a result of not wearing a seltbelt are borne by the person not wearing the seat belt. At least then someone can choose to be an idiot and not pass the costs onto the rest of us.

  • March 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm
    Huh! says:
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    If the driver is the one person without a seat belt, what happens to the passengers when an accident occurs? With no seat belt, there is less chance that the driver can stay in place behind the wheel in an attempt to maintain control of the car and there is increased risk of injury to any passenger that is struck by the beltless driver who bounces around the interior of the vehicle or is thrown from the vehicle by the force of the impact. Choosing not to wear a seat belt can have negative consequences for others.

  • March 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm
    Brian says:
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    Details on Maine’s auto coverages as required by statute. If passed, this legislation would create some business for attorneys.



    Public Law 1997, chapter 176, as amended, increases the minimum limits of motor vehicle liability insurance required in Maine. The new limits of liability are $50,000 for the injury to or death of any one person; $100,000 for one accident resulting in injury to or death of more than one person; and $25,000 for damage to property. The equivalent amount of coverage under combined single limits is $125,000. Minimum limits of 50/100, with combined single limits of $100,000 are also required for uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. When a motor vehicle liability policy is issued for a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in Maine, the law also requires medical payments coverage of at least $1,000.

    Public Law 1997, chapter 176, Sec 27. 29-A M.R.S.A. §1605-A and Sec.34, section 8, respectively, is amended by striking references to “private passenger automobiles”, “automobiles”, and “personal”. The intent of the amendment is to extend the applicability of 29-A M.R.S.A. §1605 (proof of financial responsibility), §1605-A (medical payments), and §1607 (satisfied judgments), to motorcycles and certain commercial motor vehicles because they are also defined as “motor vehicles” in 29-A M.R.S.A. §101. Insurers may not employ a guest passenger exclusion on medical payments coverage. Title 24-A M.R.S.A. § 2902-B specifically permits a guest passenger exclusion only for liability insurance. Medical payments coverage is not liability insurance and, therefore, must be provided consistent with Public Law 1997, chapter 176.

    Public Law 1997, chapter 176, is applicable to policies executed on or after July 1, 1998. The Bureau interprets this to mean that policies with limits lower than $50,000/100,000/25,000, $125,000, or having medical payments coverage of less then $1000 will need to have limits adjusted on the first renewal or continuation that occurs on or after July 1, 1998. Insurers are encouraged to include notification to affected policyholders of this mandatory change in limits when issuing the renewal policy and the insurance identification card. Insurers should refer to Bureau Rule Chapter 390 for specifics on the format to be used for insurance identification cards. Insurers should verify that the cards in use in the State of Maine contain language indicating that the coverage meets the minimum amount required by Maine law.

    The Bureau requests that insurers intending to file modified rates or increased limits factors to reflect the new limits do so as soon as possible in order to allow adequate time for processing prior to the effective date of the law. Insurers should also evaluate whether this change has an impact on other types of insurance which may require modification. For example, personal umbrella policies may need to be modified for consistency with the requirements of the new law.

    Questions regarding this Bulletin should be directed to the Property/Casualty Section of the Bureau of Insurance at (207)624-8475.

    *Amendments to Public Law 1997, Chapter 176 are described in Public Law 1998, Chapter 776.

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