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A number of serious motorcycle accidents involving Maine residents has raised concern for authorities as we head into the fall riding season.

Our Portland motorcycle  accident lawyers always advocate for the rights of riders. Too often, drivers of larger vehicles simply don’t pay attention. This failure can result in catastrophic injuries, and sometimes even death.motorcyclestunter

That was sadly the case for Stuart “Toby” Pennels, 55, a combat veteran and Republican candidate for state Senate against Democrat Bill Diamond. Pennels lost control of his motorcycle after being struck by a pickup in Sandy River Plantation on Route 4. He was wearing a helmet, but suffered severe injuries to the chest and shoulder. He was transported to a hospital in Lewiston. The retired U.S. Army colonel who survived two tours in Iraq and one in Bosnia died one month after his motorcycle crash, leaving behind a wife and three adult children.

Although this may have been the most prominent motorcycle crash in recent memory, it certainly was not the only one. In Bangor, a hospital trauma team treated a 35-year-old man whose Harley Davidson was struck by a car in Trenton. Authorities say the 26-year-old car driver was turning left onto Route 3, but her line of sight was blocked by the vehicle in front of her. She didn’t see the motorcycle until seconds before impact. The 35-year-old motorcyclist suffered head injuries, while his 34-year-old passenger sustained extensive scrapes and bruising.

In South Portland, a 27-year-old motorcyclist and his passenger suffered head injuries and broken bones after crashing on Broadway Street. The two had to undergo surgery, but were expected to survive. Officials were exploring whether impairment and speed may have been factors.

And in Winthrop, police said a mechanical malfunction is believed to have contributed to a crash that involved a 58-year-old motorcyclist. He was reportedly exiting a driveway on his 1980s-model motorcycle when the bike accelerated due to a throttle malfunction. It darted onto the street and into the path of a car, which struck him.

Determining whether a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is in order following a motorcycle crash will depend heavily on the facts. For example, a product liability lawsuit may be more appropriate in the case of the motorcycle with malfunctioning equipment. Generally, though, anytime another motorist is at-fault for a crash resulting in injuries, our attorneys can help negotiate insurance companies for fair settlements and, if necessary, take the case to court.

The Maine Department of Transportation reports that between 2006 and 2010, there were 100 fatal motorcycle crashes, more than 2,400 with injuries and 455 with just property damage. Nearly 85 percent of all motorcycle crashes resulted in either an injury or fatality, which is far worse than for other motor vehicle operators.

The vast majority of those happened in June, July and August, though 21 percent occurred in September, October and November, collectively. Of those injured or killed, 45 percent were between the ages of 40 and 69.

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:

Republican Maine Senate candidate from Casco succumbs to motorcycle crash injuries, Sept. 4, 2014, By Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Motorcycle Accidents A Spring Risk, May 12, 2014, Portland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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A 17-year-old from Bucksport entered the equivalent of a guilty plea in juvenile court to a manslaughter charge after her engagement in a drag race resulted in a crash that killed her 15-year-old friend. The vehicle veered out of control and struck a tree.carcrash1

The victim, a popular student and cheerleader at Bucksport High School, was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to the hospital. The incident occurred last October, just minutes after the friends left a dinner hosted for student cheerleaders and football players. The driver, then 16, was seriously injured, but survived.

Our Bangor car accident attorneys know this crash, as horrific as it was, has the potential to serve as a stark reminder of the dangers teens face behind the wheel – an especially timely message as we enter the school year. Many students are entrusted for the first time with regular use of a vehicle to go back-and-forth to classes and various after-school functions. It’s imperative that parents remain involved, and ensure teens are following their own rules, as well as the law.

In this case, the 15-year-old should never have been in the vehicle in the first place because the driver only had her immediate driver’s license. According to Maine’s graduated driver’s license law, that meant the driver was not allowed to be accompanied by any passenger who was not an immediate family member, unless that passenger was over the age of 20 and had a valid driver’s license for at least the last two years.

For teens, especially new drivers between the ages of 16 and 17, the risk of a crash substantially increases with every additional passenger, as recently reported by the Bangor Daily News. According to figures from the AAA Foundation for traffic safety, the crash risk for this cohort jumps by 44 percent when there is one passenger under age 21 in the vehicle. It doubles when there are two passengers under the age of 21. When there are three or more passengers under 21 in the car, the chances quadruple.

Also noteworthy, the risk of crash drops by 62 percent when there is a licensed adult over age 35 in the car with the teen.

The Bucksport case is just one example. Just two weeks later, a 16-year-old Hiram girl was killed after she struck a tree. Her two teen passengers were injured, but survived. Two weeks after that, two of three teen boys were seriously hurt after the car they were in also struck a tree.

The Bucksport teen, after an admission of guilt before a juvenile court judge, was sentenced to 30 days in a juvenile detention center (with all but 10 days suspended), and she will be required to remain on juvenile probation until the age of 19. There is a possibility she will have to return to jail if she violates her probation. Additionally, her driver’s license is suspended for the next five years.

At the hearing, the teen for the first time acknowledged she had been drag racing with two teen boys who had also just attended the same dinner. The four were all headed back to the 15-year-old girl’s home, which was just five miles away from the high school. An accident reconstruction team concluded the vehicle was traveling 75 miles-per-hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone at the time of the crash.

The teens initially denied they were racing.

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:

Bucksport teen gets 10 days in manslaughter case for 15-year-old classmate’s death, Aug. 29, 2014, By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Injury Lawyers Must Often Fight for Uninsured Motorist Coverage, July 17, 2014, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Noting dire consequences when motorists fail to focus behind the wheel, Gov. Paul LePage has vowed legislation and a series of other awareness initiatives intended to put the brakes on distracted driving.  He noted fines are an ineffective solution, and vowed to introduce a measure that would result in license suspension instead. metal

While he works on introducing a bill in that vein, the Maine State Police have teamed up with trucking firms to launch a public education campaign. The sides of big rigs will be emblazoned with messages such as, “One text or call could wreck it all.” Meanwhile, state troopers will be upping enforcement against distracted driving on the highways.

Our Bangor car accident lawyers know Maine is not among the 12 states with a prohibition on cell phone use, which is unfortunate because numerous studies have indicated that talking on one’s phone – even using a hands-free device – is extremely dangerous. Dialing, texting, reaching for the phone and talking sharply raise the risk of a crash or near-miss – especially for younger drivers. State lawmakers do forbid novice drivers from using cell phones, so that is a start. So too is the ban on text messaging, which is considered a primary offense for which officers can stop a vehicle. However, many say those efforts don’t go far enough.

Indeed, the fine for a first-time driving-while-texting offense is $100. It rises from that point, but that’s assuming one is spotted, stopped and ticketed. Enforcement has been lagging, so effectiveness of the law has been questioned. Last year, state police issued a total of 800 distraction-related tickets to drivers. Included in this figure were citations issued for offenses like failure to maintain control of a vehicle.

LePage said that in addition to increasing penalties for distraction behind the wheel, he plans to introduce a bill banning cell phone use by drivers unless it is a hands-free device. He said that since January 2011, when he was first sworn into office, he has not driven a vehicle – which has given him the unique opportunity to closely observe other motorists. From applying make-up while steering to texting on the highway, he called the level of distraction “amazing.” One trooper noted that during a recent patrol, officers observed a man playing guitar while driving. The governor insisted drivers need to start practicing safer habits.

Prior to taking office, the governor said he used to believe fines were a sufficient means of tackling the problem. He no longer thinks so. He believes the the laws must be stricter.

To offer a scope of the problem, in the last three years in Maine, there have been 8,000 crashes resulting in 41 deaths directly attributed to distracted driving. Officials say 3,000 of those crashes occurred in 2013, accounting for 12 deaths.

The Maine Department of Public Safety, in highlighting the seriousness of the problem, noted that same year, 78 people were killed in traffic due to speeding, and 45 were killed because of the recklessness of drunk drivers.

In addition to the messages located on the sides of trucks, the DOT plans to post notices at visitor centers. State police vowed to patrol intersections, where people tend to wait to text while at a red light. Even this is illegal (though generally more preferable than texting while in motion).

There will also be bold yellow “no texting” signs posted within work zones, where authorities report approximately 500 crashes annually.

The campaign is being funded by a $600,000 federal grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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:

Maine launches effort to curb distracted driving, Aug. 5, 2014, Portland Press Herald

More Blog Entries:

Maine Teen Killed in Bicycle Accident, Struck by Truck, Aug. 15, 2014, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Police in Augusta responded to a multi-vehicle pile-up in both the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 95, caused initially by one 20-year-old driver who failed to slow down in time to avoid a collision with a tractor-trailer ahead. This set off a chain reaction of events, which included several vehicles slamming into the wreckage. One of those vehicles contained a loaded gun. When that vehicle caught fire, a gun inside exploded, causing 40 bullets to explode within a 10-minute time period. $ Car- Ching $

The crash resulted in numerous injuries, and a mass of mangled metal that closed the interstate for hours while authorities worked to aid the injured and clear debris. Authorities were still investigating, but anticipate filing charges in relation to the crash.

Undoubtedly, the incident will also give way to a flurry of auto insurance claims, and potentially some civil lawsuits if those agencies aren’t forthcoming in paying those claims. Our Bangor car accident lawyers recognize that one of the elements that can complicate situations like this is the question of singular versus multiple occurrences.

Here’s why it matters: Most auto insurance policies cap coverage on a per-accident or per-incident basis. That means if the per-incident cap is $300,000, that’s the most everyone is going to receive, collectively. However, if it is determined there were multiple incidents in the course of this event, the payout per injured party is going to be significantly higher.

Generally, insurance companies will argue against a theory of multiple occurrences in a multi-vehicle crash, and it’s often necessary for injured parties to take the claim to court. In weighing such a case, courts will need to consider whether the injuries resulted from a continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions. The judge is going to look at whether there was one, uninterrupted or continuing cause that led to all the injuries.

Generally, crashes with multiple vehicles will constitute one occurrence when they occur nearly simultaneously or are separated by a very short period of time, and the insured does not maintain or regain control of his vehicle between crashes. Such cases may be considered multiple occurrences when the crashes are separated by a period of time or when the insured maintains or regains control of the vehicle prior to a subsequent crash.

Maine case law is not extensive in this regard, so judges are often given broad discretion.  In 1983, a Maine District Court adopted the “cause” test with regard to multiple occurrences in Honeycomb Sys., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co. In that case, the court ruled there must be continuous, repeated exposure to conditions which proximately resulted in the damage in order for an occurrence to be considered singular. Separate proximate causes will be closely analyzed.

So for example, while the 20-year-old in this case may be responsible for the initial crash, other drivers who may have been speeding or failed to yield or were intoxicated may have proximately caused the subsequent crashes on the highway that day. This is true even if the initial wreck was a contributing factor.

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:

Forty bullets accidentally go off during six-car pileup on I-95, state police say, Aug. 7, 2014, By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

More Blog Entries:

Speeding Crackdown in Construction Zones Aims to Prevent Bangor Traffic Collisions, Aug. 8, 2014, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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One teen was killed and another seriously injured recently in Waldoboro, after a box truck struck the pair as they were stopped in the southbound lane speaking to some pedestrians. childbicycle

According to authorities, the refrigerated lobster truck struck the back of the bicycle ridden by the 15-year-old, who was thrown from the bike, landing on the shoulder. His bicycle then struck his 14-year-old friend, who suffered a leg injury. The older boy was flown by helicopter to a nearby trauma hospital, but later died of severe head injuries. The 24-year-old driver of the truck insisted he did not see the boys until it was too late to stop.

While the investigation is ongoing, our Bangor bicycle accident lawyers hope this tragedy will spark an ongoing discussion between parents and children regarding safe bicycle riding practices. The lesson will be especially important as the school year begins, with many children in early fall choosing to ride their bicycles to school.

Riding in the darker, early morning rush hour poses special hazards, though some teens are likely mature enough to do so – if they learn how to follow the rules of the road and operate a bicycle safety in traffic.

This is critical because, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s 2013 report, the number of fatal bicycle accidents nationwide has been on an upward trend. In 2011, nearly 700 bicyclists were killed and another 48,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. These figures represented a nearly 10 percent increase from the previous year.

While Maine has historically had a relatively low number of bicycle fatalities, mostly due to the general lack of ridership during colder months, that is fast changing. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine hosts riding events well into the fall, including rides intended to promote safe bicycle travel routes to and from schools.

Just last month, an 11-year-old boy was airlifted to a trauma hospital in Portland with serious injuries after he was struck by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle. The sixth-grader was traveling downhill on his bicycle with a friend. Witnesses say the boy’s bicycle brakes appeared to not be working, and he was unable to stop as he barreled toward the intersection and into the path of the ruck. The boy’s mother later told reporters he was expected to survive.

Young riders especially must be equipped with the proper gear, functional equipment and a working knowledge of what they should wear and how they should behave on the roadway.

Maine’s Department of Transportation offers the following tips to promote child bicycle safety:

  • Wear a properly-fitted helmet.
  • Make sure the bicycle is adjusted to the child’s fit, with 1 to 2 inches between the rider and the top tube for road bikes.
  • Before riding, make sure the brakes work and the tires are properly inflated.
  • No matter whether it’s daytime, dusk, dawn, nighttime or inclement weather, one must make sure they are properly seen. Wearing bright, neon or fluorescent colors and reflective lights, tape or markings can be invaluable.
  • Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars, with other items such as books, in a backpack or bicycle carrier.
  • Avoid riding in the dark, if at all possible. It’s always harder for drivers to see cyclists at night.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line and signal your moves to others.
  • Always remain alert. That means not only watching for hazards, but listening too. Avoid wearing headphones when riding.

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

Additional Resources:

Teen dead after truck-bicycle accident over weekend, Aug. 4, 2014, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Injury Lawyers Must Often Fight for Uninsured Motorist Coverage, July 17, 2014, Portland Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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A worker was moving a barrel in a construction zone on Interstate 95 in Bangor recently when a speeding car zipped by – and nearly struck him. He was only saved by his quick reaction when he leaped behind a concrete barrier to avoid a direct hit, which would have almost certainly meant serious injury or death. Instead, the 44-year-old driver struck the barrel. roadconstruction1

He was later charged with speeding (65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone) and failure to obey a traffic control device.

Our Bangor personal injury lawyers understand this incident prompted the Maine State Police to set up a speed trap in the area. Authorities say the results were revealing. In just two hours, the five troopers assigned to the detail handed out 25 tickets amounting to more than $10,000 in fines. The primary focus: driver speed and distraction in construction zones.

This issue is undoubtedly one that is both serious and widespread. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003 and 2010, nearly 445 workers were killed after being struck by either a vehicle or mobile equipment while employed at roadway construction sites. Of those incidents, nearly 155 involved some type of a non-construction vehicle, like a tractor-trailer, bus, car or motorcycle.

In Maine, the state department of transportation reported 10 construction worker deaths occurring between 2009 and 2013. All of those individuals worked for private construction firms.

During that same time, there were nearly 2,600 wrecks in work zones, resulting in more than 300 serious injuries to workers.

Those involved in these incidents have several options with regard to injury claims. The first is a workers’ compensation claim, which can be filed anytime one suffers an injury arising out of or in the course of one’s work. Workers’ Compensation death benefits are also available in cases where the worker does not survive the accident.

This is known as an “exclusive remedy” because it is the only claim a worker can make against his or her employer. However, there is also the possibility that a worker can file a third-party claim in these incidents, against the driver, his or her employer and the insurance companies of these parties.

Still, state police are hoping to prevent these incidents altogether, if possible. They have planned a series of laser speed enforcement details in Bangor over the course of the next couple months through September, while the construction work is ongoing.

There could be several more planned after that, given the ongoing nature of the roadway projects. Although the paving along the highway is almost complete, construction on exit ramps, as well as along the Union Street bridge, is expected to continue through 2016.

The biggest issue, according to transportation workers, is that drivers fail to obey speed limits in construction zones. Reduction in speed limits is for the benefit of workers, but also drivers, who may not be able to anticipate sudden curves or other changes in road conditions due to the construction.

Even when workers and their employers adhere closely to state and federal safety guidelines while working along the road, they are still at grave risk of injury or even death when drivers fail to do their part, and slow down.

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

Additional Resources:

Near miss in Bangor construction zone leads police to issue 25 tickets, $10,000 in fines in two hours, July 29, 2014, By Nok-Noi Ricker, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Injury Lawyers Must Often Fight for Underinsured Motorist Coverage, July 17, 2014, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

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The Androscoggin Superior Court has granted a pre-judgment writ of attachment requested by the surviving family of a man killed in an apparent hunting accident near his home. aim1

In the case of Brown v. Austin, the judge ruled it was more likely than not that the plaintiff will succeed in the wrongful death lawsuit, and therefore granted a writ of attachment  (seizure of assets) in the amount of $30,000 prior to trial. Plaintiffs in these cases can be entitled to receive up to $500,000 under state law – and it’s possible the plaintiff could ultimately be awarded that much. The writ is what ensures she will collect at least the $30,000 if successful at trial.

With the fall hunting season upon us, our Bangor wrongful death lawyers believe this is an important time to note that hunters are required by law to follow reasonable and prudent standards when targeting prey.

Specifically, 12 M.R.S.A. 11222(2)(A) holds that a prudent and reasonable hunter bases identification of the target on spotting the unobstructed view of the target’s head and torso.

Further, 12 M.R.S.A. 11209(1) specifies that it is a criminal act for a hunter to discharge a weapon within 100 yards of a residential home without the owner’s express permission.

Here, according to court records, the defendant was arrested in January 2013 on charges of manslaughter and unlawful discharge of a firearm near a dwelling after he shot and killed a neighbor. The two had been hunting separately on their own properties.

Court records indicate the defendant saw the decedent outside the decedent’s home just after the defendant fired his first shot. By the time he’d fired a second shot, he had lost sight of the decedent. After firing that second round, he saw the target (believing it to be the deer he was after) drop.

He ran over to the target, only to discover it was in fact his neighbor, lying on the ground, dead, with a gunshot wound to the chest. An autopsy would later show his blood-alcohol level was 0.07 percent.

At the time of his death, the neighbor was wearing an orange hunting vest, though not a bright orange hat, as is recommended. A so-called “expert” witness for the defense testified the decedent had been trying to “cut in” to shoot the deer the defendant was following. However, the court rejected this testimony on the basis that the “expert” had no foundation to qualify him as such.

In contesting the request for writ of attachment before the beginning of trial, the defendant argued the decedent was as negligent if not more negligent, and therefore it was more likely than not the plaintiff would not prevail in the case. The court disagreed, based on the full record of facts in the case.

Even if the trial court finds the plaintiff was negligent to some degree, Maine recognizes comparative negligence. This means an injured party’s total damages may be reduced depending on the degree of fault he or she holds in a situation. However, a finding of fault is not enough to bar a plaintiff from collecting damages.

In Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Brown v. Austin, Oct. 1, 2013, Androscoggin Superior Court

More Blog Entries:

Strout v. Cent. Me. Med. Ctr. – Maine’s Apology Statute, July 1, 2014, Bangor Wrongful Death Lawyer Blog

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During the summer in Maine, we inevitably see an uptick of dog bites as more folks are out-and-about enjoying the nice weather. Many are accompanied by their dogs, or they may be more lax regarding their dog’s outdoor enclosures. dogbite1

Portland dog bite lawyers want to point out that Maine is a strict liability state with regard to dog bites. That means if a dog injures another person, the owner or keeper is liable for whatever damages result. M.R.S.A. 3961 holds that any fault on the part of the injured party won’t reduce damages covered, unless the court finds that fault exceeded the fault of the owner.

In instances of dogs biting children, this is rarely an issue because owners are supposed to recognize that children do not have the foresight as adults when approaching and handling dogs.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t track dog bites in Maine,  but on average, 4.7 million Americans suffer dog bites annually. Most of the time, these injuries are covered under the homeowner’s liability insurance.

There are some cases, though, in which the owner of the dog has to fight for the insurance company to defend them. While this might not seem the concern of the plaintiff, it’s important for the insurer to be involved in the process. Ultimately, that is likely who will cover the cost of damages.

Recently, an insurance company’s refusal to indemnify its customer in civil litigation led to a summary judgment in favor of the insurer, which was later vacated by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

In Howe v. MMG Ins. Co., the insurer argued it wasn’t liable in the case because the plaintiff sought only equitable relief, or a non-monetary judgment. However, the dog’s owner argued the lawsuit against her also sought monetary damages, and as such, the insurer was obligated to cover those costs.

The dog’s owner lived in one of four condominiums in a complex. In April 2013, the condo association sued her on four counts relating to her dog, including nuisance, negligence and violation of 7 M.R.S. 3952, which bars one from keeping a dangerous dog.

The insurer argued it had no duty to indemnify because the dog hadn’t actually caused anyone injuries or damaged property. Therefore, plaintiffs were only entitled to equitable relief.

The trial court sided with the insurer, finding the nuisance complaint sought only an injunction, the negligence claim made no assertion of injury or property damage and therefore there was no private right of action against the insurer.

The dog’s owner appealed.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, in weighing the case, noted first of all that an insurer’s duty to defend is a broad one. Citing the recent decision in Cox v. Commonwealth Title Ins. Co., if any complaint contains an allegation that, if proven, might fall under the coverage afforded by the policy, the insurer has a duty to defend. One needs only show the potential for this, even if the complaint isn’t likely to survive a motion to dismiss.

Here, the complaint did allege that the dog was “vicious, threatening and has bitten people.” The complaint also alleged the dog had bitten, scratched and damaged property owned by the association. It was true the association sought injunctive relief. However, the claim also was clear in its demand for “damages, interests, penalties, costs and attorney fees.”

Based on this, the high court vacated the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the insurer and ordered the insurer to defend the dog’s owner.

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

Additional Resources:

Howe v. MMG Ins. Co., June 17, 2014, Maine Supreme Judicial Court

More Blog Entries:

Negligent Supervision in Maine Child Injury Claim, Jan. 10, 2014, Portland Injury Lawyer Blog

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A Bangor man is facing numerous charges following a hit-and-run crash that occurred late one recent weeknight.blackcar

According to the Bangor Daily News, the 32-year-old crashed into a moving van that was parked on Ohio Street. Inside the van, a passenger was injured. By the time police arrived, the at-fault driver had fled. Police then received a tip from a caller who said a man she knew was at her door, covered in blood. He had been drinking alcohol, and she had warned him earlier not to drive. He matched the physical description of the driver who fled. Officers arrived, and the man ran away on foot, but was caught soon after.

Bangor hit-and-run accident attorneys know the plaintiff in this case was fortunate that police were able to catch the man, and further that he was tracked while there was still alcohol in his system. This will allow prosecutors in the criminal matter to make a strong case for OUI, as well as leaving the scene of a personal injury crash.

With regard to the civil case, it boosts the assertion of negligence of the at-fault driver, which may ultimately lead to higher punitive damages, if the court determines such compensation is appropriate.

But perhaps what is most important is that he was identified. That means the injured party will have an opportunity to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In many hit-and-run cases where the at-fault driver is never located, the injured party must seek uninsured motorist coverage from their own insurer.

Generally, insurance companies tend to be interested in mitigating their own liability, and there are numerous loopholes in the policy language upon which insurers attempt to deny coverage. Our attorneys are experienced in helping to secure damages for our clients.

One case that expanded the circumstances under which individuals may be awarded damages was the 2004 case of Butterfield v. Norfolk & Dedham Mut. Fire Ins. Co., decided by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

In that case, neither vehicle involved in the collision wherein the plaintiff’s daughter was killed was insured. The father sought coverage under his own uninsured motorist policy. His insurer denied the claim on the grounds that his daughter was not covered, because while she was a family member, she did not reside with him. This ran contrary to policy language.

The father sued the insurer for breach of contract, asserting he was entitled to damages because the at-fault driver was not insured. A trial court found in his favor, and the high court affirmed this ruling.

The court indicated that because of prior rulings, insurers began adding language in standard policies that limited insurance contracts. In this case, the language of the policy was an attempt to skirt the minimum requirements of the state’s uninsured motorist laws.

Despite two dissenting opinions in that case, the court was clear in saying insurers do have the authority to enact limits to coverage on reasonable grounds. However, the imposition of limits to the point where state statutes requiring such coverage are rendered meaningless won’t be tolerated by the courts.

In a hit-and-run case, there is no guarantee even if the driver is identified that he or she will have insurance – or adequate insurance. In fact, this is one primary reason many of these drivers flee in the first place.

Regardless of the circumstances, we are prepared to fight for your right to just 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:

Bangor man facing multiple charges after leaving scene of accident, fleeing police, June 26, 2014, By Ryan McLaughlin, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Traffic Accidents and the Risk of Higher Speed Limits, June 11, 2014, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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A large truck crash that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his colleagues recently spotlighted the ongoing problem with truck driver fatigue. The trucker had reportedly been awake for 24 hours prior to the wreck. Just days before that crash, U.S. Senators – spearheaded by Sent. Susan Collins of Maine –  moved to weaken laws intended to curb accidents caused by tired truckers, which is the root cause in roughly 1 in 7 large trucking accidents. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Add to that the fact that one in every 10 fatal crashes involves a large truck, and this is reason for serious alarm.

In Maine, our Bangor truck accident lawyers understand there have been a series of major crashes involving large trucks just in the last few weeks.

Among those:

  • In Freeport, northbound traffic on Interstate 95 was snarled in a multi-vehicle crash involving two tractor-trailers and several other vehicles.
  • In Moscow, five people were seriously injured after a logging truck driver lost control of the vehicle and overturned on Route 201. The load smashed into an SUV. Authorities believe the trucker’s tire may have blew out as he was rounding a corner. Among those injured was an 11-month-old girl. Four people were trapped in the mangled mass of metal, and had to be extricated by firefighters.
  • In Monson, a 37-year-old St. Albans man was killed and several others were critically injured after a dump truck was struck by a tractor-trailer that jackknifed while rounding a turn on Route 15. The tractor slammed into the cab of the dump truck, crushing it.
  • In Topsfield, a Langrage man was injured when his tractor-trailer drifted from the highway and rolled onto its side.
  • In Danforth, a cement truck driver was injured when his truck rolled over, causing him to become trapped inside.

In the wake of the New Jersey crash and others here locally, Sen. Collins has caught heat from trucking safety advocates, who argue her amendment would suspend portions of the new rules regarding required truck driver rest periods. Specifically, Collins’ amendment, which was approved with bipartisan support, suspends for one year a law requiring truckers to use one 34-hour rest period after working a 70-hour span.

Those challenging this amendment with their own proposal, which goes into effect in October, say Collins’ measure will mean truckers can work up to 12 hours more in a given week – as many as 82 hours, as opposed to the 70-hour maximum currently in place. The ultimate fear is this will push trucking firms to work their drivers harder, forcing them to put in longer hours.

Already, safety advocates say too many protections have been whittled away.

For 70 years, truckers had been limited to 10-hour days. However, in 2003, the Bush Administration increased the limit to 14 hours. That rule is still on the books, along with exemptions in some situations where truckers are allowed to work 14-hour days.

However, the 34-hour rest period requirement was a recent addition intended to help improve highway safety. Suspending it will inevitably lead to more crashes.

In the crash that involved Tracy Morgan, a representative from Collins’ office was quoted as saying that if the initial findings of the investigation are proven true, the trucker would have been in violation of the rules even under Collins’ amendment.

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

Additional Resources:

High-profile crash pits trucking safety advocates against Collins, June 18, 2014, By Scott thistle, Sun Journal

More Blog Entries:

Truck Accident at Maine Railroad Cross a Reminder of the Risks, Oct. 1, 2013, Bangor Truck Accident Lawyer Blog