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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 1-800-490-5218 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

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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 1-800-490-5218 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

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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 1-800-490-5218 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

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Two recent reports – one from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and another from analysis company GasBudy – predicted the lowest gas prices in a decade this summer for Maine and the rest of the country. gasoline

Both indicated average gas prices would be less than $2.50 per gallon for regular unleaded gas during the summer driving season, which stretches from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The cost for a gallon of gas hasn’t been that low since 2005, prior to the economic downturn.

Last year, the average cost for a gallon of gas at this time was nearly $3.65 for regular unleaded. Now, it’s about $2.40 a gallon. It’s slated to dip even lower this summer.

While this is great news for the tourism industry, it’s being met with some caution by traffic safety advocates, who fear an increased risk of Maine auto collisions.

Studies have shown repeatedly that low gas prices increase the number of traffic fatalities.

For example, sociological researchers at South Dakota State University have been conducting ongoing analysis on the relationship between U.S. roadway fatalities and gas prices. In one case, they found a 20-cent dip in gas prices in Minnesota was associated with a 15-person increase in traffic deaths.

Researchers were then asked what it might mean nationally if gas prices were to fall by $2 across the board. The answer? Nine thousand additional traffic fatalities. That is an increase of about 30 percent.

Why?

A number of reasons, but mostly, it has to do with the fact that when gas prices are low, people drive more. When they are high, people drive less.

In the latter instance, people may combine everyday trips – going to the grocery store, picking up children, commuting to work, stopping at the bank – rather than making separate trips for each chore, in an effort to save gas money. But when prices are lower, it’s not as much of a concern.

Additionally, when gas prices are higher, people end up doing things to conserve gas money that actually make them safer behind the wheel. For example, people tend to accelerate more slowly and maintain a more steady, constant speed. That’s because doing so will conserve gasoline, as opposed to fast acceleration and hard braking. These behaviors behind the wheel also help to reduce the number of accidents.

One group researchers found in which price fluctuations appeared to drastically impact safety was teenagers. People in their late teens and early 20s drove significantly fewer miles when gas prices shot up. Because this is considered to be the highest-risk group of motor vehicle operators, that tends to mean significantly fewer crashes.

Of course, those with deeper pockets are likely to drive regardless, but with lower gas prices this summer, there is ample reason to believe people will be driving with greater frequency over the next several months.

With the downward trajectory expected to continue in Maine through the upcoming summer travel season, we expect to see a rise in traffic accidents.

The best way motorists can protect themselves and their passengers is to ensure all occupants are buckled up and drivers remain sober, alert and focused on the road.

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 summer gasoline prices expected to be the lowest in a decade, April 9, 2015, By J. Craig Anderson, Portland Press Herald

More Blog Entries:

Maine Drunk Drivers Wreak Havoc, April Alcohol Responsibility Month, April 5, 2015, Bangor Traffic Accident Lawyer Blog

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A manufacturer of chairlifts used in ski resorts in Maine has issued a warning to resorts across the country to check the devices for defects. skiing

Company engineers have conceded there is an inherent design flaw that likely contributed to the recent Portland ski injuries suffered by seven people in a single accident after they fell some 30 feet to the ground.

The accident speaks to the aging infrastructure of the ski resort industry in New England, and the dangers visitors may face.

The Associated Press reports the New York-based firm Partek Ski Lifts is advising any lodges that currently use its lifts, or those made by Borvig, to conduct thorough safety checks, and also to carefully watch for issues related to an electrical switch. It’s believed a malfunction with that component may have been to blame for the accident that resulted in injuries on Sugarloaf Mountain.

There are an estimated 3,500 ski lifts in operation throughout the U.S. Of those, it’s believed about 170 could be effected by this design flaw.

Injuries stemming from this defect could result in litigation focusing on defective design or premises liability. All businesses have a duty to ensure their site is reasonably safe for customers. Although skiing is generally considered an inherently risky activity, skiers don’t generally assume the risk of a faulty chairlift, especially if the ski resort knew about the problem or should have known about it and failed to take steps to correct the problem or warn guests.

That the manufacturer has come out in front of the issue and warned of safety concerns is a positive, though it will not necessarily release the firm from liability in the event injuries result from this issue. As of right now, there hasn’t been a formal recall issued and no chairlifts were removed from service.

Engineers for the manufacturer suggest the firm used the wrong kind of electrical switch on the device, and this caused the system not to lock the chair in place – as it should have – when the device started moving backward in the air with several people on board. The chair itself is 27 years-old.

Sugarloaf is Maine’s tallest ski mountain, and this was the second accident to occur there in the last five years. The other ski accident, which happened in 2010, involved a 25-year-old chairlift.

Here, it appears there was a broken drive shaft in a gear box that resulted in the malfunction of the lift’s main brake system, which should have been automatically activated. The quad moved some 400 feet in reverse before the emergency brake was deployed and finally brought the lift to a halt.

The accidents is still being investigated by manufacturers, the resort, state inspectors and other industry officials. The resort chose to pull that particular lift offline, and it’s replaced the component in question on all its other lifts.

Although this chairlift was made by another firm, Borvig, that company has been out of business for years and Partek took on parts and support for its existing lifts back in the 1990s. The agreement also likely means Partek assumed liability for those lifts as well.

While there has not been a death associated with mechanical malfunction of a ski chairlift since 1993, there have been numerous incidents resulting in injury. This latest Maine ski accident resulted in injuries ranging from mild to severe.

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

Additional Resources:

Ski lift firm issues safety warning after Sugarloaf accident, March 27, 2015, By David Sharp, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Skiing Accident Leads to Death, Jan. 17, 2012, Portland Injury Lawyer Blog

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Anytime a patron of a store lawfully enters that commercial property, he or she has a right to expect the business – and its agents – will act with reasonable care to ensure the site will be kept in reasonably safe condition. That includes making sure shelves are safely stacked, aisles are clear of debris and substances, lighting is adequate, and entrances stairways, walkways and parking lots are in good condition.shoppingcarts

It also means employees must act with reasonable care when carrying out their jobs.

When this does not happen, it’s a form of premises liability. That’s what is alleged in the recent Portland case of Sayed v. Wal-Mart, in which a man says he was strapping his infant son into the front of a shopping cart when an employee of the store negligently rammed a line of shopping carts into his back.

The lawsuits does not allege the child was injured. However, plaintiff asserts he suffered injuries to his back that required hospitalization and ongoing medical treatment. He seeks damages against defendant for those costs, as well as pain and suffering and mental anguish, loss of earnings, loss of earnings capacity and loss of life enjoyment.

There is no indication the employee intended to hurt the patron. Rather, it seems to be simply an accident. But that doesn’t change the fact plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of worker’s conduct and through no apparent fault of his own. (Even if he did share some of the blame, comparative negligence is not a bar to injury claims in Maine.)

This is one example of how a company/employer can be held responsible for actions of workers. The legal theory on which this is founded is called respondeat superior. This is Latin for “let the superior answer.” However, the rule is only applicable if the worker was acting within the course and scope of employment.

That means generally, if a worker was doing his or her job, carrying out the company’s business or otherwise acting on the employer’s behalf at the time injury took place, the employer can likely be held liable.

An exception comes into play when it’s determined employees acted either out of entirely personal motives or independently. So for example, if this worker had intentionally rammed the shopper, the store might not be liable.

The purpose of the rule is to hold companies responsible for the cost of doing business, and that includes worker misconduct or carelessness. Intentional injuries or those resulting from a worker doing something that is not related to his or her job are not likely to result in employer liability.

Often in these cases, it’s not necessary to show employer knew employee might cause harm or even that the company clearly did anything wrong. What must be shown is the injury resulted from employee’s actions and that employee was acting in the course and scope of employment.

Alternatively, a person injured by an employee could allege the company was negligent in hiring or retention of that employee, which is to say the company did act wrongly. This pertains to the idea that companies hire or keep a worker even after learning he or she poses a possible danger.

An example might be a nursing home that hired a person previously convicted of a violent criminal act. If that person goes on to harm one of the vulnerable residents, the victim or his representatives could pursue action against the facility on the theory of negligent hiring or retention.

If you injured while patronizing business or commercial property, contact our experienced Portland injury lawyers to learn more about your options to pursue compensation.

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

Additional Resources:

Maine man sues Wal-Mart after employee allegedly rammed him with carts, April 1, 2015, By Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Ice and Snow Slip-and-Fall Injuries Common, Feb. 4, 2015, Portland Premises Liability Lawyer Blog

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Impaired drivers in Maine have been wreaking havoc on our roads, causing property damage, serious injury and the loss of innocent victims.anger

  • In Lincolnville, a 31-year-old crossed the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle, driven by a 58-year-old woman. The man was ejected from his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, while the woman was rushed to the hospital with injuries. Police suspect the younger driver was speeding and drunk.
  • In Litchfield, a woman was arrested for her fourth DUI after she crashed her vehicle with her son inside. Authorities say her 4-year-old son was inside when she careened into a cluster of trees. Emergency workers had to use a chainsaw to free them. She has 13 prior license suspensions on her record.
  • And in Bangor, a Hudson man has been charged with the New Year’s Day death of his fiancee after he drove his Jeep into a tree, causing his front-seat passenger to be ejected. He is charged with manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence.

It’s an appropriate time to highlight these cases now for two reasons. The first — April is Alcohol Responsibility month, a time when safe driving advocates seek to highlight the responsible use of alcohol for adult consumers. Secondly, law enforcement agencies in Maine have announced a commitment to step up efforts to arrest repeat offenders.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, more than 1.2 million drivers nationally are arrested for drunk driving.

In Maine, a first offense for OUI (operating under the influence of intoxicants) is merely a $500 fine. The second offense garners a minimum mandatory seven-day jail term, and a fine. It’s only upon the third offense that an offender is charged with a felony and a stiffer jail sentence is imposed.

Consider too that these are merely the instances in which people are caught by police. MADD estimates drivers operate under the influence some 80 times before their first drunk driving arrest.

Two years ago, Maine became the 20th state to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law, meaning even first-time offenders must outfit their vehicles with breathalyzers for a set period of time at their own expense if they wish to resume driving.

The state also carries out regular DUI checkpoints in order to screen drivers for impairment.

While criminal defense attorneys deride these consequences “harsh,” such penalties clearly are less effective than they should be. In the view of our Bangor injury lawyers, what’s really harsh is the loss to the innocent victims, those who refrained from such careless, reckless behaviors, and still suffered serious injuries – or worse.

Drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher are the cause of nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths in Maine. This costs taxpayers an estimated $235 million in emergency response time, medical costs and losses to society.

The impact to individual families is immeasurable.

What families should know is there are likely numerous avenues of compensation. While in many cases nothing will bring back a loved one or fully restore a victim, a civil lawsuit can result in damages awarded for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

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

Additional Resources:

Lincolnville man killed in head-on crash, April 1, 2015, By Stephen Betts, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Recalled Vehicles Often Remain Unrepaired in Maine, March 30, 2015, Bangor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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By now, most motorists have undoubtedly heard about the grave risk posed by faulty airbags, defective ignition switches and unintended acceleration. winterdrive

These issues and more were exposed within the last year by large auto manufacturers that later issued recalls compelling vehicle owners to have the problems fixed. In fact, there were a record number of vehicle-related recalls in 2014.

Companies have rightly come under fire for waiting too long to inform the public of the issues (in some cases, years), despite the very real risk of crash, injury and even death these defects pose. But the other problem is the low response rate for recalled vehicles. Part of it is lack of awareness. Part of it is there are no laws requiring owners or even dealerships to resolve safety recalls or inform buyers of problems prior to sale.

In all, our Portland car accident attorneys note approximately 60 million vehicles were recalled last year. A new study by Carfax, a firm that sells vehicle history reports, indicates about one-fifth of those cars and trucks were never fixed.  Government data indicates the number of recalled vehicles that go without repair is about one-fourth. These defects are potentially fatal.

One used-car specialist was quoted as saying that when these vehicles aren’t repaired, the problems compound over the years. It further increases the risk that parts will fail.

It’s unclear how many of these unheeded recalls result in crashes or injuries, but we do know there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest it occurs far more than it should. There was the 35-year-old father of two who died in Houston in January after shrapnel from his airbag cut into his neck following a minor accident. That airbag had been recalled in 2011. However, neither the prior two owners nor the independent dealer who sold the vehicle to decedent seven months earlier bothered to get the repair done.

It’s worth noting first of all, a recall notice does not absolve a manufacturer from a defective condition in a vehicle that results in injury or death. That company may still be liable. But in a situation like that, it’s also possible the firm that sold the car may be found civilly liable. That’s because even if there is no legal mandate requiring the dealership complete such repairs, one could reasonably argue the dealership owed a duty of care to its customers to be aware of the potential dangers posed by vehicles it sold and to either address those problems or warn consumers about them.

In years passed, legislators have tried to pass laws that would change the legal requirements and mandate vehicle sellers address recalls before those vehicles can be sold. However, those efforts have stalled every time amid fierce opposition from auto manufacturers, dealers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But a new push is underway. The government has taken away one the No. 1 excuse of these dealerships, which is that they had no way to check whether individual vehicles had undergone recall-related repairs. Now, there is a website that allows both dealership and drivers to scan for recalls by simply entering the vehicle identification number. Dealerships can even scan recall notices for numerous vehicles at once, in order to save time.

The measure being mulled by Congress would bar re-registration of vehicles that have outstanding recall work.

Still, the auto industry continues to oppose these measures.

In the meantime, the roads continue to be less safe as a result.

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:

Ignoring vehicle recall notices puts us all at risk, March 15, 2015, By Rus Van Arsdale, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

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

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City health and safety regulators in Bangor are only authorized to initiate an inspection of private property when there is a complaint from either residents or landlords. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That could soon change, as a proposal before city council would launch a new program providing for routine inspections of some 6,000 local apartment units. Officials would be scanning the property for dangerous conditions amounting to health and safety code violations.

The goal, according to Bangor’s community and economic development director, would be the assurance that renters are granted the healthy, safe living quarters to which they are entitled.

In November, a horrific multi-unit apartment fire in Portland resulted in six deaths. That was approximately six months after officials there halted proactive, routine fire safety inspections of residential rental properties. Fire officials later discovered not only were the smoke detectors on the property disabled, but critical points of egress were blocked.

Although officials say claims that continuance of safety inspections would have prevented the deadly fire or minimized losses are speculative, the aforementioned issues would certainly have been flagged as violations if an inspection was conducted. It was the deadliest fire in the city in 40 years, and officials in Portland promptly resumed its routine inspection program.

Efforts in Bangor to do the same actually pre-dated that fire, but certainly, it gives city officials fuel to press forward with the measure. The only routine health and safety inspections currently required of residential property are those designated for federal subsidies, such as Section 8. Under federal law, those properties have to be inspected at least once a year.

Our Bangor premises liability lawyers understand it’s the city’s plan to have the program started by early May. Although annual inspections would certainly be ideal, city leaders believe it’s likely they’ll only be able to initiate inspections once every three years.

Still, it’s better than nothing. Fire departments have for many years placed strong emphasis on safety and health inspections on public gathering places. These have included businesses, stores and schools. However, private residences have been mostly overlooked. This is despite the fact that this is where the most fires happen.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports residential fires account for more than three-fourths of all fire deaths annually, and nearly 80 percent of all fire injuries. Private dwelling fires also account for more than half of all annual property losses attributed to accidental fires.

It’s estimated there are more than 1 million fires in the U.S. each year.

Because about half of all residential fires are related to cooking, it is crucial for properties to have working smoke detectors and clear points of exit.

While it’s true that many fires – and other dangers on private property – are not intentional, property owners owe a duty to tenants and guests to ensure the site is free of perilous conditions. Adhering to basic health and safety codes is just the start.

Last year, 25 people died in Maine due to 14 fires. If these routine health inspections help to hold property owners more accountable for their sites, there is no question injuries could be prevented and lives could be saved.

People who suffer injury as a result of fire or another dangerous condition on property should consult an experienced injury lawyer.

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

Additional Resources:

Bangor eyes mandatory health, safety inspections of nearly 6,000 apartments, March 13, 2015, By Evan Belanger, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Ice and Snow Slip-and-Fall Injuries Common, Feb. 4, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

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Just a handful of days after one of the biggest chain-reaction car accidents in Maine’s history, state lawmakers are deciding whether to repeal the current seat belt law. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Title 29-A, 2081 of Maine Revised Statutes require all passengers in every vehicle to buckle up, so long as there is a seat belt available. Children must be strapped in to proper carriers, car seats or booster seats. Violators face a $50 fine for a first offense. The only exceptions are drivers or passengers with a disability or medical condition that makes it unsafe or impossible to wear a seat belt. Mail carriers are also exempt.

The new bill, LD 112, is entitled the “Act to Eliminate the Requirement That Adults Wear Safety Belts.” The sponsor is Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, a freshman senator who asserts only children should be required by law to buckle up.

Trauma doctors and nurses are slated to testify before the Legislature’s transportation committee in an effort to oppose the bill. They have seen first-hand the carnage that can result when drivers and passengers don’t abide by the current seat belt law. Investigators still sifting through the wreckage of the 75-car pileup on I-95 west have yet to reveal whether those injured were wearing seat belts. However, there have been no fatalities reported, and troopers say that is undoubtedly the result of people buckling up.

“Seat belts likely saved lives,” said a trauma coordinator at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, adding that injuries would undoubtedly have been much, much worse had people not been wearing their seat belts.

But Brakey insists that isn’t the point. Rather, he said, the problem is government should not be interfering with such matters. He said he does hope people were buckled up in the crash, and that people will chose to buckle up every trip. However, he asserts it isn’t the job of the government to make sure they are doing so.

The bill does have support on the other side of the aisle, with Rep. Charlotte Warren (D-Hallowell) backing the measure as well.

A number of trauma centers are banding together to voice concern about the possibility of the bill’s passage. The Maine Public Health Association issued a statement indicating it’s been proven time and again, over generations and millions of miles, that drivers and passengers who buckle up will be half as likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

In actual terms, that translates to hundreds of people in Maine every year who are spared this fate.

EMT professionals – those who are often first to respond on the scene to serious crashes – say they do understand the desire not to be overburdened with regulations and rules. However, this is one of those areas where it doesn’t make sense to compromise. When a person is ejected from a vehicle, they point out, the severity of injury and loss of life is “senseless.”

Airbags can help to minimize the damage, but they won’t eliminate it entirely.

Last year, Maine traffic deaths were reported at the lowest level in 70 years. Authorities say that’s partially a result of cracking down on speeding drivers, but strict seat belt enforcement is a major factor too. Officials say 85 percent of drivers in Maine were buckled up – a marked increase since the law was first passed in 1997. At that time, only about 50 percent of drivers wore their seat belts.

Initially, the law passed as a secondary offense, which meant officers could only ticket drivers after stopping them for another reason. Eight years ago, it was bumped up to a primary offense, and it’s likely no coincidence the number of traffic deaths have continued to decline.

Brakey says the inspiration for the bill occurred when he was stopped at a seat belt checkpoint last year. He questions the wisdom of stopping people and interrupting their day over seat belt violations, especially when “They may have very important business they may be attending to” and they aren’t hurting anyone else.

But here’s what Brakey’s argument overlooks: Motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities do end up costing us all, in the form of emergency response, medical care and in the loss to society of those who were once contributing members.

Of course, whether a person is wearing a seat belt won’t diminish the amount they are able to collect in damages in the event of a crash, but prevention is always preferred.

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

Additional Resources:

In wake of 75-vehicle pileup, a bill to repeal Maine’s seat belt law, Feb. 26, 2015, By Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Semian v. Ledgemere Transp., Inc. – Maine Supreme Court Weighs Bike Injury, Jan. 22, 2015, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog