Maine requires all drivers to purchase uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, and it often comes into play in many car accident lawsuits. The minimum limits of UM/UIM coverage are $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. Typically, it’s a good idea if you can afford it to purchase more than that, as a serious auto accident can result in damages that far exceed that amount. cardriving

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can apply if you are:

  • Injured in a crash caused by a driver with no car insurance;
  • Injured as a pedestrian bicyclist or skateboarder struck by a vehicle;
  • Injured in a hit-and-run accident or in a situation where a “phantom vehicle” enters your lane and causes you to veer off the road;
  • Injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle;
  • Injured in a crash caused by a driver whose bodily injury liability limits are lower than the limits of your UIM coverage.

Continue reading

Police say a Bangor pedestrian accident that resulted in injuries may have been intentional. What will that mean as far as auto insurance coverage for the injured? crosswalk2

According to The Bangor Daily News, a woman from Brewer may have intentionally rammed her car into a pedestrian who was playing the now-popular Pokemon Go game near the U.S. Post Office downtown – a so-called “Pokestop” – on a recent Sunday night.

Witnesses say a 37-year-old man from Bangor was injured while in the Franklin and Hammond Street crosswalk. Authorities allege a 36-year-old woman struck the man and then took off. The victim was reportedly playing the game on his phone with a group of friends just before he was struck by the woman in the vehicle.  Continue reading

State police report a woman in Dayton, Maine fell asleep at the wheel while driving along state Route 35. The driver was reportedly operating a Nissan Versa when she dozed off, striking a Toyota driven by a 65-year-old woman from East Waterboro. A 62-year-old passenger in the Toyota suffered personal injuries. driving5

All three individuals were buckled up according to state law, which police officials say most likely saved the lives of those involved.

This incident once again underscores the dangers of driving drowsy, something Maine legislators have thus far been unable to criminalize, despite several attempts.  Continue reading

Property owners owe a duty to guests to ensure they are not confronted with unreasonable risks and hazards that may jeopardize their safety. Depending on the role of the guest (i.e., a social visitor, a business invitee or a trespasser), the duty of care owed by the property owner will vary.stairs

Recently, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court – the highest in the state – handed down a ruling on a premises liability lawsuit that underscores the importance of expert witness testimony in some of these cases.

The case of Estate of Smith v. Salvesen is a tragic one. Plaintiff and his wife were in town as guests at a reception held at a local college for which they were benefactors. The pair stayed at a local inn. They were told their suite was on the second floor, but they did not realize it was actually a two-story suit, equipped with stairs in the bedroom that led to the lower level. Continue reading

As The Bangor Daily News recently reported, many local social service agencies actively promote awareness of the risk and prevention of elderly falls. wheelchair1

The National Council on Aging estimates that one in every three Americans over the age of 65 fall every single year, and a substantial number of those suffer serious injury, hospitalization and death. This is not only a problem for those in nursing homes, of course, but when it does occur in nursing homes, it can be a potential sign of neglect or abuse.

Falls in nursing homes are not supposed to happen and they can be a sign of neglect caused by under-staffing, poor training or failure to implement and follow proper patient safety guidelines. Nursing homes can and should be held liable when this happens.  Continue reading

The road to recovery is ongoing for a Maine couple involved in an Orrington motorcycle accident in May. motorcycle1

As reported by the Bangor Daily News, the 22-year-old motorcyclist lost control of his motorcycle while traveling on Route 15, crossing the center line and striking an oncoming vehicle head-on. He lost part of his leg. His girlfriend, 23, had been on the back of the bike and was thrown off. She suffered a serious traumatic brain injury and a broken leg. She had to undergo surgery to relieve the pressure of a brain bleed in her head. Although he lost his leg, it could have been worse had the car he hit not been driven by a 25-year-old with U.S. Army training, who applied a tourniquet. He knew he had less than three minutes to stop the man from bleeding to death, and his quick action was successful in preventing this from becoming a greater tragedy.

Now, families of the motorcyclist and his girlfriend have started a community page on social media, as well as a number of charity events, to help raise money for the ongoing cost of medical care and rehabilitation. Although the pair survived, their road to recovery will be extensive, likely requiring numerous more surgeries and extended stays in rehab.  Continue reading

Almost 23 years have passed since Daphne Izner’s 17-year-old son and three of his friends, parked in the breakdown lane of the Maine Turnpike when their car overheated, were struck and instantly killed by a tired trucker. Despite causing four deaths, the truck driver was never charged with manslaughter. Drowsy driving wasn’t – and still isn’t – punishable by law in Maine. (The driver did ultimately serve three months in jail for falsely logging his work hours, a major problem in the Maine trucking industry.) Last year, HB 683, which would have made it a crime to operate a vehicle after 24 consecutive hours without sleep or while the person’s ability or alertness is so impaired by fatigue that it’s unsafe, failed in the state senate. truckcargo

Nonetheless, Izner has not given up her 23-year fight to make Maine’s roads safer. A year after their son died, Izner and her husband founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) which has been a force for change on Maine’s roads.

In 2002, PATT became the Truck Safety Coalition after joining forces with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. But for all the progress she and other safe trucking advocates have made, there are those in Congress who are still actively working to peel back federal safety regulations for the trucking industry. Specifically, the hours of service regulations for truckers is one that lobbyists have been working to scale back. Safety advocates like Izner aren’t giving up. They know how much is at stake.  Continue reading

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has addressed a blind spot in case law regarding which victims may claim a defendant’s money and assets in a case involving multiple individuals who are equally harmed. gavel21

The case of Estate of Summers v. Nisbet stems from the deadliest fire in Maine in over 40 years. The blaze broke out in a two-unit home in 2014 in Portland. Six people were killed.

In the aftermath, it was alleged the landlord was negligent in maintaining the property in safe condition, which played a central role in the fire. Soon after, families began filing wrongful death lawsuits against the landlord, who also faces six criminal counts of manslaughter.

The family of one man, Steven Summers, was the first to file a claim for damages in court. However, his widow, as personal representative of his estate, did so by filing what is known as an ex parte attachment. It is a claim that is not made public until after the defendant – here, the landlord – goes through a process of challenging that attachment. It’s a secretive process intended to block a defendant’s assets without warning, to prevent the defendant from concealing property or money to avoid having to part with it to satisfy the judgment.  Continue reading

Drunk driving in Maine is a serious problem that claims innocent lives year after year. A number of initiatives have been taken in recent years with the goal of reducing these tragedies, including tougher penalties on impaired drivers. bud

But much of this focus has glossed over drug-impaired driving, which has become a growing threat as we are realizing a heroin epidemic and are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana.

This issue was raised recently at a Portland summit that involved police, prosecutors, traffic safety experts and others – many of whom argued that greater education is going to be essential.  Continue reading

A truck driver from Tennessee was arrested on aggravated DUI and manslaughter charges in Virginia recently in connection with a fatal Maine truck accident that occurred in March. trucksontheroad1

Authorities told the Portland Press Herald the 53-year-old driver was reportedly hauling lumber in a tractor-trailer on Route 17 in Washington, ME when he veered his semi into oncoming traffic. The tractor-trailer rolled over, lumber was flung all over the roadway and a total of five vehicles were involved.

Two people – a 74-year-old man from Owls Head and a 45-year-old woman from Warren – were declared dead at the scene.  Continue reading