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

A driver behind the wheel in a car crash that left one person dead and three seriously injured was reportedly traveling at nearly twice the speed limit, police say.speed2

Speeding, of course, is one of the most prevalent contributing factors in auto accidents, with the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting the average annual cost of speed-related crashes nationally is more than $40 billion.

Bangor Daily News staffers recently combed through law enforcement analysis of the May 14th crash in Belfast involving a 19-year-old driver and her four young passengers. Continue reading

A Windham woman and her 12-year-old son were seriously injured last month in a Maine car accident in which their vehicle tore through a guardrail on Route 1 in Bath and plunged 30-feet off a two-lane bridge, before landing upside down on a pickup truck. The Portland Press Herald reported the bridge from which the car fell had numerous missing or broken rail bolts. Structurally, it was designed to prevent exactly this sort of thing. But it did not, and those deficiencies may have been a factor. oldbridgeoverroad

The horrific crash now has officials with the Maine Department of Transportation launching an investigation into more than a dozen bridges across the state that may have structural inadequacies or safety concerns.

The 37-year-old woman and her 12-year-old son had to be extricated from the mangled mass of metal by firefighters and were then transported via ambulance to the Maine Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries. Fortunately, the injuries they suffered were not expected to be life-threatening. Continue reading

A Tennessee man is facing charges of manslaughter following a Maine truck accident that resulted in two fatalities in March. Now, the Bangor Daily News has revealed the driver had a safety record that was much worse than the national average. truckforward

This matters, particularly for his civil case, because it could be grounds to assert direct liability – and not just vicarious liability – against the trucking company that employed him. It may also be grounds to seek punitive damages, which could greatly increase the damage award for plaintiffs.

The newspaper reported that the 54-year-old trucker was hired by a carrier based in Tennessee. The company’s owner told a reporter he had no idea the driver’s license had been suspended in Louisiana and revoked in Virginia. At that point, he directed questions about the crash to his attorney, though he failed to provide the contact information for that individual.  Continue reading

It’s been 10 years since Judy Bouchard’s daughter died on I-295 while en route to work from her home. The University of New England graduate was working as a teacher of students with autism.driving

Heather Dawn Bouchard’s phone buzzed. She took the call. It was a client. But she dropped the phone mid-conversation. She unbuckled her seat belt to reach down for it. It was the last thing she ever did. The car crossed over into the median and slammed into a van driven by a local television crew. Heather was ejected from her car and died soon after. Although she was an organ donor, her body had sustained such trauma that none of her organs were fit for use. She was just 24 years-old. The two TV crew members in the van suffered injuries, but survived.

Recently, her mother stood before a group of students at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. She told them of her heartache that cell phone distraction has caused their family. What the world lost that day. How her daughter would never have driven while on the phone if she knew how greatly her family would suffer for it.

“She didn’t think it could happen to her,” Bouchard told the group gathered at the safety symposium.  Continue reading