The death of a 13-year-old boy, struck and killed in a crosswalk on his way to school in Lewiston, has devastated a community and raised important questions about the lack of pedestrian safety in Maine. crosswalk

Police say the eighth grader was crossing Main Street at Frye Street – in the crosswalk – when he was struck by a driver operating a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The driver of the vehicle, a 54-year-old woman, is reportedly cooperating with authorities. It is believed that after the initial impact, the truck dragged the young boy some distance up the street until the vehicle stopped and the driver discovered the child underneath. The incident occurred at around 7:10 a.m., as the boy was making his way to school.

According to the Maine Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Highway Safety, Cumberland County – including Portland – had by far the most pedestrian accidents of any county in the state over the last several years. Between 2008 and 2012, there were 408 pedestrian accidents in Cumberland County. Comparatively, there were 205 in York, 167 in Androscoggin, 169 in Penobscot, and 111 in Kennebec. In the last decade, there have been between nine and 14 pedestrian fatalities a year in Maine.

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A Maine car accident resulted in injuries for a 38-year-old woman in Holton when she was rear-ended on I-95 by an unknown driver, sending her car careening off the road and into a cluster of trees. Her car was crushed by the impact of the collision, but the other driver never stopped – as required by Maine statute. The Bangor Daily News reports authorities later received a tip that a 28-year-old Texas man may have been involved, since his Ford F-350 with significant front end damage was being repaired at a local garage. He was reportedly not injured in the crash, and authorities located him at a local motel. They have charged him with leaving the scene of a crash involving a personal injury, driving to endanger, and operating with a suspended license. crashed car

Many people erroneously think that if you are struck in a hit-and-run accident, you can’t make a claim for a personal injury lawsuit because either the driver was never located, or the driver didn’t have any insurance. which is why they fled in the first place.

However, victims of hit-and-run crashes in Maine are not without options, as our experienced personal injury lawyers can explain. One of the best options for victims is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which allows car accident victims to pursue compensation from their own auto insurance company for injuries caused by an uninsured – or unidentified – at-fault driver. There is also underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which helps make up the difference when an at-fault driver’s auto insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of your damages.

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Back injuries are the most common type of injury suffered on the job, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. What’s more, the Maine Department of Labor reports the problem is getting worse here in The Pine Tree State.worker

Federal analysis indicates that in 2014, there were approximately 200,000 cases in which workers missed at least one day of work because of a back injury. That’s out of 1.15 million total instances of missed time for occupational injuries.

Meanwhile, the Maine DOL reports injuries to the lumbar spine (the lower back) represented 14.3 percent of all work-related injuries. Compare this to 2009, when lower back injuries comprised 10.7 percent of all work injuries.

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The federal agency in charge of overseeing more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funds has taken a stand against the commonplace practice of forcing victims of nursing home abuse into resolving disputes via arbitration, rather than in court.gavel

Increasingly, provisions buried in the fine print of nursing home admission contracts have required residents to resolve quality of care disputes within this private system – out of public view. Not only are these proceedings confidential, but also they consistently favor the nursing home. Even when damages are awarded to plaintiffs, they are usually much less than what one would typically receive in a judgement issued by the courts. Arbitrators are chosen by the nursing homes, and there is an incentive for them to resolve cases in a way that minimizes the financial impact to the facility.

This, of course, is inherently unfair, and advocates for years now have been calling for the federal government to step in and curtail such forced arbitration. Now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, has taken a major step in restoring a key right of millions of vulnerable, elderly Americans. The agency’s new rule, hailed as the most significant in decades, holds that any nursing home that gets federal funding can’t deny residents and families the right to have their day in court.

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Drunk driving in Maine causes more wrongful deaths than any type of violent crime. In 2014, law enforcement officials reported 25 people died by homicide, while 50 died in drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s double. Impaired driving accounts for more than a third of all motor vehicle fatalities in this state. What’s more, the problem appears to be getting worse. The number of operating under the influence deaths in Maine spiked from 44 to 50 in a single year – an increase of nearly 14 percent. Many hundreds more are injured.beers

We saw it once again in the community of Strong, about 1.5 hours from Bangor. According to the Kennebec Journal, police are reporting a fiery, head-on collision that killed one driver, injured two passengers, and sent another motorist to a Farmington jail on an OUI charge – a class B felony for operating under the influence resulting in death.

The collision was reported at around 7:45 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, when authorities received a call about a traffic accident and possible entrapment on Lambert Hill Road. Authorities arrived to discover two pickup trucks that had collided head-on and were both in flames. The allegedly drunk driver, 24, managed to escape his vehicle, as did his two passengers, although they were injured. However, the driver and sole occupant of the other truck was not able to get out. Fire officials were only able to retrieve his body once they had extinguished the flames.

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A community in Central Maine is mourning the loss of a longtime family physician who was killed in a bicycle accident after she was struck by a pickup truck.bicycle

Bicycle vs. truck accidents are not necessarily more common than bicycle vs. car collisions, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, they tend to be more serious because cyclists are vulnerable road users, and pickup trucks are so much larger and heavier than typical passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, truck drivers are not required to carry more insurance than those operating smaller vehicles. This is why it’s a smart idea for all bicyclists to maintain ample uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which will supplement damages in the event of being struck by a driver who is not identified (hit-and-run), uninsured, or underinsured (only carries minimum coverage).

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The Maine Supreme Court recently handed down an important decision in an asbestos lawsuit that may have an impact on future toxic tort cases in Maine. Fence

In Grant v. Foster Wheeler et. al., the court affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment for numerous defendants accused of liability to plaintiff for decedent’s alleged exposure to asbestos at a shipyard. Decedent died of asbestos-related lung disease in 2011, and his wife, as representative of his estate, filed a lawsuit against defendants–makers of asbestos-laden products–for negligence, failure to warn, distribution of unreasonably dangerous goods, and loss of consortium.

Asbestos litigation has become prevalent across the country, as those who were exposed to the substance decades ago have only recently emerged with diagnoses of the resulting, latent diseases. However, it’s been years since the Maine high court has issued any kind of clarification on the question of causation in these notoriously complex cases, all of which stem from circumstances that occurred decades ago. That can make proving causation a problematic issue. That was also true in Grant, but at least now asbestos injury lawyers have some clearer direction about the evidence needed to prevail in future cases. Continue reading

In Maine, motorists are required to maintain minimum limits of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) benefits. These help make up the difference in costs if you are injured by the negligence of another driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses. It can also be applied if you are struck by a vehicle, such as a bicyclist/pedestrian/skateboarder, are injured in a hit-and-run or are run off the road by a “phantom” vehicle. The minimum amount of coverage is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per crash.Gavel

But even when drivers maintain their benefits, they may still find that insurers are reluctant to pay these costs. Injured parties may need to take their claim to a judge to collect.

That was the situation in the recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court case of Graf v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. According to court records, plaintiff was injured in a Maine auto accident when she was rear-ended by an underinsured motorist. All parties agree the crash was entirely the fault of the other driver, who at the time had a liability motorist policy worth a (statutorily legal) $50,000. Plaintiff claimed UM/UIM coverage and medical payments under two State Farm insurance policies. Continue reading

Two men died and two others were seriously injured when a pickup truck slammed into a dump truck on a recent Wednesday morning in Durham. It was shortly after 7 a.m. when the pickup, exiting Rabbit Road onto Route 9, slammed into a crossing dump truck driven by a 42-year-old. Two of the men inside the pickup, ages 21 and 24, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third, age 35, was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to a Lewiston hospital. The dump truck driver also suffered injuries, although he was reportedly in fair condition.

Several of the details we know about this case so far suggest there may be complex legal issues that trucking accident attorneys will likely explore in civil litigation. dump truck

The dump truck was reportedly owned by a local construction company, according to The Portland Press Herald. The pickup struck the dump truck near the gas tank. The pickup truck burst into flames almost instantaneously as the dump truck flipped onto its side. Three men who happened on the scene pulled the three men out of the burning pickup truck.

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During this past summer, a 23-year-old suffered serious injuries in a Portland bicycle accident that occurred at the intersection of State Street and Cumberland Avenue. Although the cyclist’s injuries were not life-threatening, the incident raised questions for local news outlets about the most dangerous intersections for bicyclists in Portland. bicycle

The Bangor Daily News first turned to the Maine Department of Transportation, which revealed there were more than 250 bicycle accidents in Portland between 2011 and 2015. Reporters compared this data with the average daily traffic counts from 2013 to ascertain the most dangerous intersections for cars and bicycles.

In that five-year time frame, the Portland intersection with the most crashes was at Park Street and York Street. There were a total of five bicycle-versus-vehicle crashes counted at that location over the five-year period. Reporters conceded, though, that this particular intersection has a high traffic volume. When the numbers were controlled for traffic volume, the intersection with the most crashes-per-volume was Adelaide Street and Read Street at Forest Avenue, which had four crashes during the five-year time frame. The three-way intersection branches off Forest Avenue, which is one of Portland’s most active roadways.

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