A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of a teacher killed, her two young children seriously injured, after a 17-year-old high school student allegedly crossed the center line in his parents’ vehicle. He struck the teacher’s car head-on in Berwick. airbag4

The estate of the elementary school teacher is being represented by her father and a family friend on behalf of the minor children, ages 4 and 7 at the time of the crash. Named defendants include the 17-year-old driver and his parents.

The lawsuit was filed just before the statute of limitations deadline. In Maine, plaintiffs have two years from the date of a person’s death in which to file a wrongful death action. Personal injury actions, meanwhile, can be filed up to six years after the injury occurred. Continue reading

A 9-year-old boy was killed, while his mother and 6-year-old brother were seriously injured, after a 63-year-old woman drove her sedan into a line of people waiting on a wharf in Rockland, Maine for a ferry ride to Monhegan. Also seriously injured in the crash was a 70-year-old man who suffered a shattered hip.wharf

Now, parents of the boy who lost his life have filed a  Maine wrongful death lawsuit against the New York City driver, as well as the owners of the ferry and the boat line business.

Plaintiffs allege the crash could have been prevented if the driver had not been operating her vehicle negligently or, alternatively, had the ferry line acted to erect gates and barriers or worked to safely channel bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the wharf where the crash happened. Continue reading

Maine drivers have to contend with a higher-than-average number of traffic accidents, construction and roadway hazards. road6

That’s according to the latest report from Waze, a service purchased by Google two years ago.

It works like this: Drivers download the application and then can send and receive warnings about roadway obstacles, such as traffic jams, police units, heavy traffic and accidents. Users get points for finding roadway obstructions and warning others behind them. Continue reading

Most of us who live in Maine love Maine. But according to a recent study by financial website Money-rates.com, Maine is among the worst states in the country to earn a living. sad4

While other states in the bottom 10 ranked poorly because of low wages, high cost of living, high taxes and other economic disadvantages, Maine’s ranking was primarily because of workplace injuries.

The site, which ranked Maine the third-worst state, just ahead Hawaii and Oregon, indicated it is tied for the highest frequency of workplace illness, injury and death.

Specifically, Maine public officials reported 5.3 workplace injuries, illnesses or deaths per 100 workers. Continue reading

A landlord in Cumberland County is facing criminal charges that could carry up to 30 years prison time for a fatal fire in November that killed six people. fire2

In addition to six counts of manslaughter, the landlord is accused of three misdemeanor code violations for failure to have working smoke detectors, have a second escape from an upstairs bedroom and clear stairwells.

These kind of issues, if proven, would provide a strong basis for the pending premises liability lawsuits, which have been filed by several of the victims’ families.

What is more unusual is the fact that prosecutors are pursuing this case in criminal court. While such actions (or rather inaction) could certainly be considered negligent, a criminal charge of manslaughter requires “gross negligence.” This is what prosecutors are alleging.

Defendant landlord, however, insists he did install smoke detectors as required by law, but those were disabled by residents. He further asserts he in no way caused the fire, which investigators say resulted from a cigarette that was not properly put out. The fire reportedly ignited on the porch, engulfed the front door and blocked the rear staircase. The three people who survived the blaze were forced to jump from a second-story window.

The six people who were killed were all in their 20s.

Conviction on the criminal charges would not necessarily carry mandated prison time, but prosecutors say they will be recommending incarceration.

The pending civil cases, meanwhile, allege defendant landlord (also a real estate broker) and owner of two other local properties in Portland, sought to rent rooms to tenants without first ensuring the properties were safe and up to local fire codes.

While routine inspections are performed by the city every few months on properties with three units or more, city staffers had received complaints about this property (which technically had less than three units). For that reason, officials did conduct an inspection in the months prior to the blaze.

The fact that certain violations were apparently missed resulted in a review that ultimately led to the city founding a fire safety office.

Not only did this unit not have smoke detectors that were functional, it lacked the fire alarm system that was required of properties that provide room rentals. This property was technically a two-family rental. However, because he was renting the property out by individual rooms, he was required to have more safety measures in place, officials said.

When the case went before the grand jury, evidence was presented to indicate tenants could share partial blame. Specifically, there was evidence tenants had disabled the smoke detectors and blocked egresses with certain debris. But even in spite of that, the grand jury chose to indict.

The criminal case and the civil cases will proceed separately but simultaneously. Portland premises liability attorneys know one will not necessarily have an impact on the other, meaning defendant could avoid criminal conviction and still be held civilly liable. However, information gleaned as a result of the criminal investigation could certainly prove useful for plaintiffs in the civil cases.

If you are injured, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Portland landlord indicted on six counts of manslaughter, July 11, 2015, By Matt Byrne and David Hench, Portland Press Herald

More Blog Entries:

Sayed v. Wal-Mart: Main Sues Store After Being Hit With Cart, April 15, 2015, Portland Premises Liability Attorney Blog

At-fault driver in a violent, fatal crash in Readfield last fall had used heroin earlier in the day, police now say. drugs1

Toxicology reports from the crash were recently returned as part of the ongoing investigation into the accident, which happened an hour north of Portland. The force of the crash was so intense, the speed so fast, the force of the impact sheered off the side of a tree and shifted a 7,000-pound rock as the vehicle careened off the road.

Three men were in the vehicle that night: A 21-year-old driver and two passengers, age 26 and 20. The 26-year-old was killed. The 20-year-old sustained life-threatening injuries that resulted in permanent disability. The two had been ejected from the vehicle.

Now, the driver of that vehicle, who survived without major injury to himself, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and driving to endanger. His bail was set at $100,000, despite requests from the defense attorney to lower it. The judge cited the seriousness of the charges, defendant’s prior failure to appear for other court appearances, and the seriousness of the new charges.

Defendant faces a maximum 45 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Investigators say in addition to the new evidence revealing driver had been using heroin the day of the crash, there is also testimony from the surviving crash victim indicating both he and decedent told defendant driver to slow down just before the crash. By defendant’s own admission, he had a four-bag-a-day heroin habit in the months prior to the crash, though he insists he had reduced it to one-a-day around the time of the collision. He also insisted he wasn’t speeding and had only swerved because he had encountered a deer in the road.

Authorities, however, have said this fatal Maine car accident could have almost certainly been avoided if driver had been traveling the appropriate speed.

What is especially troubling from the perspective of a civil injury lawyer is the fact defendant driver reportedly had no insurance coverage.

In such a situation, the surviving passenger and survivors of the man who died may have the option of recovery through uninsured motorist coverage. This would be coverage through their own auto insurance provider and comes standard on most insurance plans. Such coverage (sometimes referred to as UM coverage) would be applicable even though they were not driving and not in their own vehicles.

Absent that, families could pursue action directly against defendant, though it’s unclear whether that approach would be worthwhile. It would depend on the amount of assets driver possesses. In the alternative, injury lawyers could explore the possibility of pursuing action against the owner of the vehicle. In impaired driving cases involving alcohol, there is sometimes potential for action under Maine’s dram shop law, which holds licensed establishments liable for damages caused as a result of serving alcohol to minors or individuals who are intoxicated. However, the law does not apply where drugs are involved.

The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated 9.9 million people over the age of 12 reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. By comparison, an estimated 29 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey indicated nearly a quarter of drivers tested positive for over-the-counter, prescription and illegal drugs. This was true regardless of time of day or week.

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

Additional Resources:

Police say driver used heroin before fatal Readfield car crash, July 15, 2015, By Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal

More Blog Entries:

Maine Motorists Must be Cautious of Road and Weather Conditions, July 14, 2015, Portland Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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