Drivers in the Freeport area were advised recently by the Maine Department of Transportation to use caution due to heavy rains and standing water on the turnpike. rainyroad

The department told motorists they should adjust their speed accordingly and remain alert.

The warning was issued after one vehicle traveling on I-295 southbound hydroplaned and flipped on a recent Sunday morning. Four people were in the vehicle, but luckily, no one was seriously injured. Officials advise ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.

Our Maine accident attorneys recognize that even under the best of conditions, operating a motor vehicle requires drivers be attentive, cautious and use their best judgment. But when there are special conditions or certain hazards that arise, exercising good judgment and extra caution becomes even more important.

That means knowing how to adjust your speed and drive patterns in bad weather or in the event of an emergency. Even slight rain or ice can make roads slick and dangerous. A morning fog can make visibility difficult, putting drivers at risk of a collision.

Some special conditions for which it is important to adjust one’s speed:

  • Sun Glare
  • Fog
  • Rain
  • Snow and Ice
  • Wind
  • Reduced Traction
  • Hot weather

Because conditions can change abruptly, drivers must always be prepared by knowing how to react. Drivers also need to understand that most other drivers aren’t going to adjust their driving behavior in hazardous conditions, so operating the vehicle defensively becomes imperative.

It’s not so much about having special skills as recognizing the hazard and adjusting a few key behaviors. Those involve:

  • Slowing down
  • Increasing the following distance from the car ahead of you
  • Be prepared for motorists around you to make poor choices

In heavy rain conditions, wet roadways pose a significant safety hazard. When roads are rain-slicked, drivers may experience a decrease in traction. That means it takes a lot longer to brake than on a dry surface. And it’s not even necessarily a problem just in heavy rain conditions. Even a drizzle can produce this effect. In heavy rains, however, there is also the risk of hydroplaning, which occurs when a vehicle travels too fast on water-covered roads. When a vehicle hydroplanes, the tires aren’t touching the ground and therefore have no traction.

In snow, it’s a good idea to slow down and drive in tire tracts, as these grooves will create the best traction. Try to avoid changing lanes if you can, as there is often a buildup of crunchy snow that can make this maneuver dangerous.

If you encounter fog, turn off your high beams and flip on your fog lights. The high beams will reflect off the cloud and bounce back into the driver’s face. If you have to brake, tap your brakes so the driver behind you is alerted, reducing your risk of being rear-ended. Stay in the right-most lane and eliminate other distractions – especially music and other sounds. You will need to listen for cars spinning, braking or crashing ahead of you.

If you find yourself in a sun glare, you must slow down. Keep a pair of dark sunglasses handy and pull down your visor to help improve visibility.

In windy conditions, drivers may experience reduced steering control and tail winds can actually push the car, making it travel faster than intended. Drivers need to be prepared to reduce their speed accordingly.

If you are injured in a crash that occurred in inclement weather, that doesn’t mean no one is at-fault. All drivers owe others on the road a duty to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner, given road and weather conditions. Although no one controls the weather, we can all adjust our reaction to it.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Motorists urged to slow down as heavy rain fell over southern Maine Sunday, June 28, 2015, By Julia Bayly, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Motorcycle Accident Results in Head Injuries, June 12, 2015, Portland Car Accident Attorney Blog

A motorcycle accident in Oakland involving a rider from Belgrade resulted in a trip to a Bangor hospital after a crash that resulted in severe head injuries. motorcycleboy

Initial investigation revealed the motorcyclist may have driven through a stop sign and crashed into another vehicle, causing the 55-year-old rider to be ejected from the bike. It was a five-way intersection and the crash happened shortly before 3 p.m.

An accident reconstructionist was called to the scene to piece together what happened. The driver of the other vehicle said she didn’t see the motorcyclist until he hit the rear passenger side of her vehicle.

Alcohol is also suspected to have been a factor. At this time, no traffic citations have been issued, and the motorcyclist is believed to be in serious condition.

Summer is motorcycle season in Maine, and it’s imperative riders operate defensively and with the utmost caution. It appears that message is being driven home to some extent, if the most recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are any indication.

According to federal authorities, there were 4,668 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2013. That represents a 6 percent decrease from the 4,986 motorcyclists killed the previous year. There was also a drop in the number of injuries during that same time frame – 88,000 in 2013, compared to 93,000 in 2012.

The vast majority (93 percent) of those incidents involved two-wheeled motorcycles. Those on motorcycles account for 14 percent of the total number of traffic deaths, which is still disproportionate to the number of motorcycles on the road. In fact, when comparing the number of accidents per vehicle mile traveled, a person is 26 times more likely to be killed on a motorcycle than in a passenger vehicle. That tells us riding a motorcycle can be extremely dangerous, which is why riders must operate carefully.

Maine requires only that riders under 17 wear helmets, despite NHTSA findings that nearly 60 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2013 were not wearing a helmet. That was in states where there were no universal helmet laws – of which Maine is one. In states that do have universal helmet laws, only 8 percent of riders killed in fatal crashes were helmet-less.

Maine’s Bureau of Highway Safety reports the majority of motorcycle crashes in this state between 2008 and 2012 occurred in York, Penobscot, Kennebec and Cumerland counties.

Especially dangerous for Maine motorcyclists is the fact that many other motorists don’t see them – until it’s too late. This is particularly true in the beginning of the summer, when riders are just beginning to take to the road and drivers aren’t conditioned to look twice for them.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following for summer riders:

  • Always wear a well-fitting helmet
  • Drivers of cars should pull over if they are distracted, rather than trying to drive simultaneously
  • Use a motorcycle with anti-lock brakes, which prevents wheels from locking in a crash and can reduce the risk of a fatality by nearly a third
  • Wear high-visibility protective gear
  • Always follow the speed limit
  • Never drink and drive

If you are the victim of a Portland motorcycle accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Motorcyclist airlifted for treatment after Oakland crash, May 18, 2015, Staff Report, CentralMaine.com

More Blog Entries:

Maine Summer Gas Prices Low, Crash Risk High, April 30, 2015, Maine Injury Lawyer Blog

Kathy Day, a nurse from Maine, said she has always striven to be an advocate for patients. But that drive became a passion after the death of her 83-year-old father. He died weeks after suffering a hospital-acquired infection while he was being treated for a broken leg.stethascope0

After breaking the small bone in his lower leg, he spent nearly two weeks in the hospital. Upon his return home, he seemed fine, other than the fact he needed to use a walker. But the next day, he awoke and was so sick, he could barely sit up in his own bed. He had a high fever. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined he had contracted MRSA pneumonia while he’d been recovering from the leg fracture. He ended up developing sepsis, which led to organ failure.

The family later learned two other patients had died of MRSA infections following surgery. Yet at no point were patients or family members informed of the risk or of steps to take or things to watch for in order to reduce the possibility of an infection.

His death devastated Day and her family, and propelled her to become a vocal activist for reducing hospital-acquired infections. One of her biggest targets is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is a type of staph infection that is typically resistant to antibiotics.

While 30 percent of us carry staph infections in our nose, we usually don’t get sick. Most of the MRSA infections that do occur happen either at a hospital or some other health facility.

Other common hospital-acquired infections include:

  • Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections
  • Surgical Site Infections (abdominal hysterectomy, colon surgery)
  • C. difficile Infections

Hospital-acquired infections affect 1.7 million patients every year, and 99,000 of those die. Incidence of MRSA doubled between 1995 and 2005.

Our Bangor wrongful death attorneys know cases of injury or death resulting from post-operative infection acquired at a hospital can be difficult to pursue. That’s because despite an awful outcome, the infection may result while doctors and other health care providers were adhering to the accepted standard of care.

Most cases of hospital-acquired infection injury or death are filed on the basis the doctor or other health care provider failed to recognize and/or treat the infection in a timely manner.

Other possible grounds for litigation could be lack of informed consent. This theory would look at whether the hospital knew or should have known a patient was at high risk of developing and infection, and yet did not inform the patient and give him or her the opportunity to opt out of treatment.

Our attorneys may also look at whether hospital staff failed to properly handle or sterilize certain instruments, clothing, hands and surfaces.

And also, we will analyze whether the surgeon failed to follow acceptable care practices during the procedure by allowing debris or other contaminants to make contact with the wound.

While it is not a patient’s fault if a hospital-acquired infection occurs, there are some steps patients can make to reduce their chances of such incident. That involves:

  • Asking for clean hands of doctors, nurses, other caregivers and visitors. Keep hand sanitizer by the bed and sanitary wipes to frequently wipe down touched surfaces.
  • Speaking up if there is any doubt about whether someone has clean hands.
  • Know your medical history, the kind of medication your taking and clearly communicate that with your doctor/caregivers.

If you have questions about whether you may have grounds for a lawsuit following a hospital-acquired infection, contact our offices today.

Contact Maine Injury Lawyer Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

10 Important Tips for Preventing Deadly Medical Errors and Infections, June 25, 2015, By Diane Atwood, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

ATV Lawsuit in Maine Filed by Family of Teen, June 6, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer

Heavy fog and speed are being cited as the likely cause of a fatal, single-vehicle crash in Limington recently, claiming the life of a 23-year-old woman from the same town. crashedcar

Three others are injured, including the driver. One of the other passengers has been listed in critical condition, while the two other have been deemed “stable.”

The fiery wreck occurred sometime around 3:45 a.m. A local homeowner heard the sound of the wreck and rushed to the woods near his home to assist. He helped pull the driver and another passenger, who were trapped inside, from the burning vehicle. The decedent and other passenger (who is in critical condition) were both ejected from the vehicle.

According to authorities, the 20-year-old driver was heading west when he lost control of the vehicle, struck a guardrail, rolled over, careened into the woods and slammed into a group of trees.

The vehicle then burst into flames. The homeowner who rushed to help was able to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived on scene.

All of the occupants of the vehicle were in their 20s. It is not yet clear whether alcohol may have been a factor. Police are continuing to investigate while families of those involved are no doubt reeling from this awful news.

While we often talk of accidents in terms of multiple vehicles being involved, a significant number of crashes involve just one vehicle. In a 2008 report to Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asserted approximately 675,000 crashes in the U.S. each year involve just one vehicle. That’s nearly 31 percent of the 2.2 million crashes that occur annually. Meanwhile, 57 percent of accidents involve two vehicles and just 12 percent involve three or more vehicles.

Our Bangor auto accident attorneys recognize there are unique advantages as well as challenges when working to obtain compensation for victims in single-vehicle crashes.

One benefit is that, generally speaking, there is little doubt as to who is at-fault and therefore liable is clearer. There is only one driver to analyze, so determining fault is usually not difficult. There are sometimes outside forces that may come into play (a wild animal, a “phantom vehicle” that runs the car off the road or some other factor).

The challenge can be getting coverage from a single auto insurer, which likely has policy limits that could diminish the amount each individual can receive or will cap per-accident damage.

Most policies provide the following types of coverage:

  • Liability (pays for bodily injuries and property damage caused by insured to a third person)
  • Collision (pays for damage to the insured for damage done by another vehicle or object)
  • No-fault (insured receives coverage for property damage and personal injury, regardless of fault)
  • Comprehensive (insured is paid for losses due to something other than a crash with another car or object)

There may also be uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits for those passengers who require more compensation than the policy limits allow. This assumes the passenger has UM/UIM coverage through his or her own carrier.

An attorney can help you determine which type of coverage is applicable and available and make a strong case for compensation.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

1 dead, 2 injured in Limington Crash, by CBS 13

More Blog Entries:

Healing From Maine Auto Accident Injuries an Ongoing Struggle, May 10, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

A 55-year-old man was in critical condition following a Maine motorcycle accident in Oakland, about an hour southwest of Bangor.motorcycle8

So severe were his head injuries, authorities said, he had to be flown by helicopter to the Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Reportedly, the operator failed to stop at a stop sign at an intersection, and as a result, collided with a sport utility vehicle. The crash happened around 2:30 p.m. Driver of the SUV was uninjured, and there were no passengers in the vehicle. The motorcycle rider was ejected from bike and struck the pavement. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Police investigators spent two hours reconstructing the scene before re-opening the road, reported the Bangor Daily News. At this time, there is reason to suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash, though they have not indicated which driver was allegedly drinking.

No charges were immediately filed in connection with the crash.

Motorcycles in Maine have become an increasingly popular mode of transportation and recreation. This is particularly true in the warmer months, which is why we expect to see a spike in motorcycle accidents throughout the summer.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were nearly 5,000 motorcyclists killed in 2012 in motor vehicle crashes. That’s a 7 percent increase from what was reported a year earlier.

Additionally in 2012, there were 93,000 motorcyclists who were injured. That represented a 15 percent spike from what was reported the previous year.

Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were 26 times more likely than a passenger in a car to die in a traffic collision.

More than half of all motorcycle fatalities involve a collision with another type of motorcycle. Speed is a major factor cited in 34 percent of all motorcycle-related deaths. Alcohol too is often a commonly-cited cause.

Maine had 24 motorcycle riders killed in 2012, and 43 percent of those had a blood-alcohol content in excess of 0.08 percent.

Of course, that does not mean they necessarily caused the crash, but certainly, alcohol may hinder one’s ability to react quickly to a sudden danger.

Helmets are known to reduce head injuries for motorcycle riders by 37 percent and by 41 percent for passengers.

In Maine, the state’s helmet requirement for all riders was repealed in 1977. They are now required for all persons under 15 and all operators with a learning permit or within the first year of receiving a driver’s license.

The NHTSA reports more than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in either injury or death to the motorcyclist or passenger, with most of those stemming from ejection.

Penobscot County has the third-highest rate of motorcycle accidents in Maine, with 308 reported from 2008 to 2012. Meanwhile, Cumberland County had 650 during that time and York County 534.

Many crashes occur when drivers do not pay attention to watch for motorcyclists and either turn in front of them or strike them from behind. This is why individuals riding motorcycles must operate defensively, obey the speed limits, protect themselves with a helmet and avoid consuming alcohol prior to getting on their bike.

In Maine, comparative negligence in a crash will not bar a personal injury lawsuit, so long as plaintiff was not 50 percent or more at fault. Still, per 14 M.R.S.A. 156, damages may be reduced by the percentage of plaintiff’s determined negligence.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Oakland man suffers head injuries in motorcycle crash, May 17, 2015, By Beth Brogan, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Report: Maine Cycling Safety Improvement Requires Attention, May 30, 2015, Bangor Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Blog

The family of a 16-year-old boy killed in a Maine ATV accident last summer has filed a civil lawsuit against the family of another 16-year-old who was driving the car with which he collided. ATVtracks

According to the crash report, the decedent was operating the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) behind the vehicle driven by h is 16-year-old friend. They were traveling the same direction when the ATV operator attempted to overtake the car. As he crossed back into the northbound lane, the ATV and car collided, causing the ATV to overturn and the rider to be ejected.

Decedent was not wearing a helmet and died of his injuries.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the 16-year-old driver of the car was negligent in operation, causing the decedent to crash.

The lawsuit is against the mother who owned the car the 16-year-old was driving. She is being represented by the insurance company that provided coverage for the vehicle.

Defense has denied all claims of negligence and has requested the case be dismissed. The court has not yet responded to that request. Additionally, defense argues plaintiff’s right to recover damages will be diminished by decedent’s own comparative fault.

In Maine, 14 M.R.S. 156 , the statute governing comparative negligence, allows that a person who suffers death or damage as a result of partial fault will still be able to collect damages from another party who is negligent, so long as plaintiff’s own negligence does not exceed 50 percent.

Whether this case will be defeated by comparative negligence remains to be seen. It will hinge largely on the details of the crash. Trial, if it reaches that stage, will most likely include expert witness testimony from accident reconstructionists on both sides of the aisle.

ATVs are popular in Maine, which boasts a number of riding trails intended specifically for these vehicles.

Maine statutes concerning ATVs require training for operators between the ages of 10 and 16 is required to undergo safety training before operating the vehicles, though no license is required. The minimum age to operate an ATV is 10-years-old, and it’s a crime to allow anyone under that age to operate one. Operators who are under the age of 16 are not allowed to cross public roadways while operating an ATV.

Statutes also say ATVs may not be operated on controlled access highways, though they may cross over them. Further, ATVs are generally not allowed to operate on any portion of public ways intended for use by conventional motor vehicles or on sidewalks. However, there are some exceptions. Those include:

  • When the public way has been closed for winter weather
  • When the public road is not maintained or used for conventional motor vehicles
  • During periods of emergency
  • During special events
  • When directed by law enforcement or other governmental unit

Although it does not appear any of these exceptions are applicable in this instance, it will certainly be a point of issue in this case. If the ATV operator was in violation of the law at the time of this tragic accident, it may be more difficult to show his comparative negligence did not exceed 50 percent.

If you are the victim of a Portland accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Family of Maine teen killed in ATV crash sues, May 7, 2015, By Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal

More Blog Entries:

Mother and daughter killed on Bailey Road in Knox, December 15, 2010, Portland ATV accident attorney blog

The latest report from The League of American Bicyclists puts Maine at the top when it comes to bicycle friendliest in New England.bicycletire

The state ranked 15th nationally, behind the other New England states of Delaware, which ranked No. 3, and Massachusetts, which ranked No. 4. Meanwhile, New Hampshire ranked 27th, Connecticut 22nd and Vermont 17th.

The scoring criteria for “bicycle friendliness” was based on legislation and enforcement of bicycle safety laws, existing policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement and evaluation and planning.

Somewhat disappointingly, Maine fell two spots from the No. 13 position, which it held in 2014. Maine received a 4 out 5 when it came to legislation and enforcement and policies and programs, but it only received a 3 for education and encouragement. And for infrastructure, funding, evaluation and planning, the state received scores of just 2.

According to the Maine report card, what worked in the state’s favor was the fact it has enacted a “safe passing” law, requiring drivers to maintain a distance of at least three feet. Additionally, there is an active bicycle advocacy community in the state, as well as an ongoing “share the road” campaign and an emphasis on bicycle safety in the state’s strategic highway safety plan. Also, the state this year adopted a “Complete Streets” policy that encourages traffic engineers to design roadways with all road users – including cyclists – in mind.

But what worked against the state was a lack of dedicated state funding. There is also no state bicycle plan or vulnerable road user law. Less than 2 percent of federal transportation funds given to the state are dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian safety, and fewer than 1 percent of Maine residents commute to work by bicycle.

Overall, the state received a score of just 46 out of 100. That’s a slight drop from last year’s score of 50 out of 100. So the fact that it was 15th out of 50 in the nation seems to say less about our amazing bicycle safety initiatives and more about how abysmal the problem is nationally.

The release coincided with National Bike to Work Week in mid-May.

The director of communications at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine said the rankings provide advocates and lawmakers with good information.

For example, it was recommended the state pass a vulnerable road users act. And that’s exactly what is happening with the pending LD 1301, which would give legal status to anyone on the road who is not operating a motor vehicle, and it would also provide stiffer penalties for drivers who strike bicyclists or pedestrians with their vehicles.

There is also legislation pending that would ban use of a mobile phone while driving if it’s not connected to a hands-free device.

Ultimately, lawmakers and advocates hope to significantly reduce the number of bicycle accidents in Maine.

The Bike League further recommends expanding bicycle parking areas at parks and state buildings and taking into account the needs of cycling commuters in all transportation planning efforts.

Although there isn’t exact information on how many cyclists there are in Maine, it’s been estimated at least 2,500 households have at least one active cycling member. In figures recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was revealed four cyclists were killed in 2013 in Maine traffic accidents, representing 2.8 percent of all traffic deaths. That’s slightly higher than the national average of 2 percent.

If you are the victim of a Portland bicycle accident, contact  Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Maine among most bicycle friendly states in New England, May 12, 2015, By Julia Bayly, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Seat Belt Law Faces Repeal, Raising Safety Concerns, March 15, 2015, Portland Injury Lawyer Blog

In most areas of law, the legal system does not allow one person to be held responsible for a third-party action of another. beerinapub

But there are several exceptions, and a few of those relate to a situation unfolding in Rockland, little more than an hour north of Bangor. According to The Bangor Daily News, a pub owner has just had his renewal for an entertainment license rejected. In its decision, council cited repeated noise violations, numerous liquor violations of alcohol being sold to minors and pages and pages of police reports originating from that location.

Neighbors who own property near the pub have made numerous complaints. They say disturbances occur nightly, and they are constantly cleaning up cigarette butts and urine stains from the sides of buildings.

Such violations are annoying, to be sure. But the greater potential for injury is in the constant fights on the property and service of alcohol to minors.

Property owners in general can be held liable for personal injuries that result when they fail to provide adequate security to guests. This is primarily applicable to landlords of larger properties and business owners. When a property owner is aware that guests may be in danger – as evidenced by a long list of police reports regarding fights and other issues – he or she would have a duty to do something about it. That could mean hiring security guards. It could mean limiting occupancy or hiring off-duty police officers to maintain crowd control. It could mean screening for weapons at the door or ensuring adequate lighting in the parking lot and common areas.

There is no one thing that constitutes “adequate security,” but the general requirement is that property owners make property reasonably safe safe from foreseeable harm. Of course, many defendants in cases like this will argue they could not have foreseen a third-party criminal act. But in this kind of situation, the long list of police reports will refute that assertion. A long list of violence at a particular site will serve to show the action was foreseeable.

Another way an establishment might find itself at the center of a civil injury or wrongful death lawsuit would be through Maine’s dram shop law.

Maine Revised Statutes Title 28-A, Chapter 100, is also known as the “Maine Liquor Liability Act,” and it establishes the circumstances under which an establishment can be held liable for injuries caused by a drunk driver. The law essentially says a state-licensed vendor of alcohol can be liable for negligently or recklessly providing alcohol to someone who is either under the age of 21 or who is intoxicated.

Negligent service of alcohol occurs when a server knows or should know the person served is under 21 or visibly intoxicated. Reckless service of alcohol is knowingly serving a minor or someone intoxicated and consciously disregards an obvious and substantial risk of substantial harm. A dram shop case may be especially strong if plaintiff can show there is a history of such disregard at a given establishment.

Contact Bangor injury attorney  Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Rockland pulls pub’s entertainment permit because of ‘egregious’ violations, May 12, 2015, By Stephen Betts, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Health Safety Officials Say 6,000 Apartments Need Routine Inspection, March 20, 2015, Bangor Injury Attorney Blog

Following the death of a teen girl on a hayride last fall, Maine lawmakers are searching for way to tighten amusement park regulations and restrictions, to ensure similar tragedies never happen again. hayride

Recently, the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee weighed testimony from one lawmaker sponsoring a bill named after the teen that would enhance protections for those who pay money to go on amusement park rides in this state.

The measure, “Cassidy’s Law,” is formally titled LD 1057, An Act to Increase the Safety of Amusement Park Rides. It bears the name of the high school junior who was killed in Mechanic Falls when a 197os-model Jeep hauling a trailer with 20 people on it careened off the trail and into a cluster of trees at a “haunted” hayride offering at a local farm festival.

Exempt from regulations proposed in the bill would be those who give rides free of charge on farm equipment. As an example, Rep. Bob Nutting, R-Oakland, the sponsor of the measure, told legislators it wouldn’t apply to a pumpkin farmer who offered rides to customers who came to view the patch and choose a pumpkin or two or visitors to an apple orchard who came to pick some fruit. Instead, the new law would be solely applicable to those who charge money to customers for rides.

In these situations, the representative said, people who give money to take a ride should be able to reasonably expect someone with a degree of expertise has weighed the circumstances, inspected the vehicles and trailers and considered all relevant factors in determining that it’s safe. He said that when that tragic accident occurred last year, it was later revealed no one had inspected the vehicle for safety. No one determined how many people could safely ride on that trailer or what was the maximum speed it should be traveling or what qualifications the driver should have.

As it pertains to almost all vehicles driven on public roads in this state, the law requires a yearly inspection for safety and vehicle owners must prominently affix a sticker indicating the vehicle has been checked. However, farm vehicles are most often exempt, and these include trailers and tractors.

The new proposal would require hayride operations to undergo careful inspection and permitting, similar to other types of amusement park rides. For example, when it comes to rides at fairs or carnivals, it is the state fire marshal that inspects and permits all of those rides.

LD1057 doesn’t specify the permitting agency, and the  Maine fire marshal has indicated it likely doesn’t have the resources to initiate permitting for hayrides along with everything else. Doing so would likely cost the agency an additional $20,000 annually – and that’s before the start-up costs of training inspectors. Still, that agency has assisted local and state police in the investigation, which is still ongoing.

Another possible regulatory agency that might take charge of such inspections would be the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement arm of the state police.

A preliminary count revealed there are approximately 100 or so hayride operations running across the state at various times.

Start-up costs for such a program may seem daunting, but legislators say they intend to press forward, suggesting perhaps that these costs might be offset to some degree with permitting fees paid by the operators.

Even if the law is not passed, these companies, property owners, vehicle owners and vehicle drivers may still be held legally liable for any injuries or deaths caused by their negligence. What is not clear is the kind of insurance each entity had, and how that might be applied to these situations.

That’s why only an experienced personal injury lawyer should weigh in any amusement ride child injury case.

If you are dealing with an injury accident, contact  Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

‘Cassidy’s Law’ aims to tighten Maine’s amusement ride safety laws, April 27, 2015, By Scott Thistle, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Alert for Skiers in Maine: Chairlifts May be Unsafe, April 17, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

Most auto accidents – even serious ones – fade from the headlines days or sometimes just hours after they occur, after the wreckage has been cleared and traffic is moving once again.

But even for those who survive these frightening ordeals, the pain, injuries and scars are something with which they will struggle for a lifetime. carcrash5

One Waterville man knows that struggle all too well. He was involved in a horrific crash three years ago. His was one of three vehicles involved. Doctors weren’t sure if he would survive. He was in a coma for a month, and since he awoke, the list of his acute and chronic medical problems has been daunting, something he must overcome daily. Tacked onto the struggle was the fact he lost most of his hearing.

Recently, he was back in the headlines when, for the first time since that fateful day, he heard the sound of his wife’s voice. It was loud and clear. He didn’t need to try to read her lips. It wasn’t muffled. He didn’t have to lean in closer. She was asking him if the new hearing aides that had been placed in his ears were comfortable.

Those few simple words were met with a flood of emotion by everyone in the room. It was a major milestone in what has turned out to be an extensive journey of recovery.

As the Kennebec Journal chronicled, the man had been driving on U.S. 201 in Fairfield in his pickup truck when a car, struck by another vehicle, spun out of control and struck his. In all, four people were injured in the crash, including the man’s son. However, his were by far the most serious.

He had to be flown by helicopter to the local hospital, where he remained in a coma for a month. He underwent nine surgeries in the first 14 days. Doctors told family members to prepare for the fact that they very well might lose him.

When he finally did awaken, he would try to pass the long hours in his hospital bed by watching television. But he needed the volume at full blast – and even then, he could barely make out the sounds. When he was finally well enough to attend family gatherings, he never wanted to stay more than a half hour or so. He wasn’t enjoying himself because he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.

As time wore on, he learned to read lips. But even then, it was difficult and he could only do it in one-on-one situations with someone who spoke slowly.

He was forced to give up his job installing satellite dishes. It wasn’t just the hearing. It was the ongoing back pain. He had a severely limited range of motion. His sons and other relatives tried to help with certain tasks when needed, but it was tough for him to accept it. He’d always been so independent.

Life, he said, became extremely bleak. He would later say he felt as if he was being punished for something, even though he had done nothing wrong.

The hearing aid technology had been available, but with a price tag of $7,000, he couldn’t afford them. He was grappling instead with $100,000 in medical bills. Plus, he was out of work.

Finally, he applied for a grant program to receive the hearing aids free. And he recently learned he was accepted.

Our auto accident attorneys aren’t privy to all the details behind this man’s accident or whether he settled with the other insurance companies or his own. Hopefully he sought sound legal guidance.  Sometimes, the impact of a car accident can be far greater than those involved can initially even imagine.

This case seems remarkable. Indeed, it made headlines. But the fact is, thousands of people in Maine right now are recovering from a horrific traffic accident, some with medical ailments even greater than these. It is for them that we fully dedicate our time, our experience and our skill.

If you are the victim of a Bangor auto accident, contact  Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Clinton man can hear again three years after accident, April 2, 2015, By Kaitlin Schroeder, CentralMaine.com

More Blog Entries:

Sayed v. Wal-Mart: Man Sues Store After Being Hit With Cart, April 15, 2015, Portland Car Accident Lawyer Blog