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When it comes to inclement winter weather, Maine is no stranger. But when accidents result, it’s not typically the weather that is blamed. Rather, it’s the driver reaction to the weather. Most typically, operators of motor vehicles are failing to adjust their speed to the current conditions. snowvan

It’s for this reason state police have  erected flashing highway signs urging drivers to slow down to 45-mph, rather than go the normal 60- or 70-mph that is posted. But here’s the problem, according to a new report by WMTW: Those 45-mph speed limits aren’t legally enforceable. The notice is only a guideline, giving motorists a better sense of what is the safer speed given the conditions. But the black-and-white posted speed signs are the only sign that is enforceable by law.

Last year, authorities in Maine responded to an estimated 700 snow-related accidents. That figure doesn’t include incidents that did not result in injury or cause more than $1,000 in damage.

Speeding is a major problem in any season, but it’s especially perilous in winter, when visibility is reduced and the roads are caked with ice and snow. As one trucker described it, error on a dry road may result in a close call, but in the middle of winter, there’s a much higher potential for a fatality.

That’s why authorities stress adherence to the temporary 45-mph limit when it’s posted.

It’s worth pointing out Maine has some of the highest speed limits in the country. In 1995, Congress repealed the national maximum speed limit, which was 65 mph in rural areas and 55 mph in urban areas. Today, 33 states – including Maine – increased their speed limits to 70 mph. In Maine, the top speed limit was raised in 2011 to 75 mph. At the time, state Rep. Alexander Willette was quoted as saying everyone was already traveling that fast. “Why not make it official?”

The highest speed limit in the country is in Texas and Utah, where it’s set at 80 mph.

Yet, speeding is considered a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The economic cost of crashes involving excessive speed are $40.5 billion annually.

It’s also true, as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes, that increasing the speed limit results in a higher number of accidents and deaths. Drivers have less time to react and tend to sustain injuries that are more severe due to the greater force of impact. This is especially true in the midst of a winter storm.

That means just because a sign says you can travel 75 mph doesn’t mean you should. In fact, when the roads are bad, you may be far safer traveling at half that speed.

And while temporary speed limits may not be enforceable, law enforcement authorities warn that it is still illegal to drive recklessly – and that could include traveling too fast for the current conditions.

In addition to reducing speed to meet current conditions, make sure to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. Keep in mind you will need more time to stop in icy, snow conditions. And when stopping, avoid sudden movements of steering. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, make sure to gently pump the brake.

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

Additional Resources:

45 mph restrictions not enforceable, but carelessness is, police say, Feb. 5, 2015, By David Charns, WMTW.com

More Blog Entries:

“Violent” Teen Crash in Maine Attributed to Alcohol, Speed, Dec. 8, 2014, Portland Maine Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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A series of recent Maine snowmobile accidents serve as a reminder of how dangerous the motorized vehicles can be – a point well taken by the U.S. Forest Service, which recently issued new policy mandating park managers limit where snowmobiles can travel on federal land. snowmobile

Snowmobiling is permitted in the Park Loop Road system – including up Cadillac Mountain – in Acadia National Park. The new federal rules take effect Feb. 27, and are applicable to all national forests in the country.The move is specifically designed to limit injurious contact between snowmobilers and skiers in national parks. Another goal is to stop the vehicles from tearing up remote areas of pristine powder that were once only accessible by skiers.

In 2013, a federal court in Idaho ruled the Forest Service was wrong to exempt snowmobiles from a plan restricting areas in which wheeled vehicles could travel on certain designated routes. The agency estimates some 4 million people use snowmobiles in national forests, and newer technology has made the vehicles lighter and more powerful – meaning they can reach areas previously inaccessible.

Snowmobiling regulations at Acadia include requirements for vehicles to keep off carriage roads and hiking trails and to maintain a speed of under 35 mph on paved roads and 25 mph on unpaved roads. Additionally, snowmobilers are required to yield to anyone who isn’t on a snowmobile, including skiers, hikers and snowshoers. Headlights have to be on a half hour before sunset until a half hour after sunrise or whenever there is limited disability. Those on snowmobiles are barred from towing people on skis or sleds, and operation of a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. Only those over 14 can operate a snowmobile, and those under 18 are required to wear a helmet.

Our Bangor personal injury lawyers know snowmobile injuries are a serious problem in Maine. The federal agency’s efforts to curtail it may help. However, a number of injurious accidents occur outside federal parks.

Some recent examples include:

  • A 42-year-old father from North Carolina was killed in a crash on the Mount Kineo Trail when he lost control of the machine and was ejected, tossing him into the path of another snowmobile traveling in the opposite direction. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
  • A 25-year-old man was injured on Watchic Lake in Standish when slushy snow caused his vehicle to roll over around 1:30 p.m. The impact caused the rider’s helmet to fall off, and he sustained serious head injuries. Authorities suspect speed may have been a contributing factor.
  • A 24-year-old woman was critically injured in a snowmobile accident in Piscataquis County when she struck a tree and was ejected. She was transported by helicopter to a treatment center in Bangor.
  • A man in Waterville was injured after he was struck by a vehicle while riding alongside West River Road. It is legal in Maine for snowmobilers to ride alongside the road, and authorities say it’s a common site during winter. The rider was not seriously injured.

Success in a snowmobile accident lawsuit requires the aid of an experienced lawyer. Our legal team will explore the contributing factors of the crash to determine whether you have a potential for a claim. We will examine whether the following issues were at play:

  • Lack of experience
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper maintenance and service
  • Manufacturing defects in the vehicle
  • Ice or water hazards
  • Improper maintenance of the area in which crash occurred

Because injuries sustained in snowmobiling accidents tend to be severe, medical bills and other expenses are likely to be significant. It’s important for victims to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to determine avenues for compensation.

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

Additional Resources:

Feds issue new policy for snowmobile use in national forests following lawsuit from skiers, Jan. 28, 2015, By Keith Ridler, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Maine Snowmobile Accidents Spur State Warden’s Warning, Feb. 22, 2014, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

 

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As a growing number of companies rely heavily on technology to conduct their business, more and more are allowing workers to telecommute from home (or the local coffee shop or wherever else outside the office they can be productive). treadmill

The American Community Survey reports telecommuting has risen nearly 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, and now comprises more than 2.5 percent of the workforce in the U.S. – or about 3.2 million workers. Some estimate the number of telecommuters could balloon to 30 percent of the workforce at some point in the future.

While this often saves on overhead costs, there is one way in which it might complicate matters: Workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that covers injuries that arise out of and occur in the course of one’s work. But such cases are more complex when one’s office is at home, or when there is no central office space.

Such was the situation before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which recently considered  Sullwold v. Salvation Army, a case pertaining to workers’ compensation death benefits of a worker who died of an apparent heart attack while working at home.

It’s important to note that, typically, a heart attack – even when suffered on a job site – may be considered an idiopathic injury (i.e., owing to an internal condition of the worker, with the possibility of occurring anywhere) and thus not compensable. However in this case, the worker’s widow asserted stress was a major contributing cause of husband’s heart attack and death.

According to court records, he was responsible for overseeing investor relations for the non-profit, which at the time were valued at around $2.5 billion. He had lived in Maine since 2009, but was allowed to telecommute from home after he moved to New York City.

The company supplied him with a home computer, smart phone and other office materials.

On the day he died, he began work at 8:30 a.m. and continued working until 3:30 p.m. At that time, he took a break to walk on the treadmill. Roughly a half hour later, his wife found him unconscious on the floor. The phone was still next to him and his treadmill was still running. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

He had suffered a heart attack years earlier, and at that time, doctors recommended he make lifestyle changes, including better diet and exercise. He did so, and continued to receive treatment for coronary disease. He told his doctor weeks earlier he’d experienced chest pain while walking his dog. Though he had not reported work-related stress to his doctor, he had suffered a recent panic attack. He told his wife and co-workers it was due to being “overloaded,” and colleagues knew he worked long hours, traveled frequently and had much with which to contend.

His widow filed for workers’ compensation death benefits, asserting his heart attack and death were attributable to stress from work. A hearing officer granted her request, finding work stress a major factor in his death.

Company appealed this ruling, which was dismissed, and the grant of benefits was affirmed on the appellate level and again upon review by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The court applied 39-A M.R.S. 327 in holding the death arose out of and in the course of employment. Employer countered attorneys for widow had not met an adequate burden of proof. The court held that where there is a rational possibility of success, claims should prevail.

The hearing officer had found that although worker was walking on treadmill at the time of his death, the injury occurred during work hours in a place the company sanctioned for work and while using a smartphone provided to him for work. Thus, it was held the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.

Injury suffered by telecommuting workers in Maine can prevail. An experienced Bangor workers’ compensation lawyer can help.

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

Additional Resources:

Sullwold v. Salvation Army,Jan. 22, 2015, Maine Supreme Judical Court

More Blog Entries:

Bangor Workers’ Compensation Claims May Stem from Cold Weather Injuries, Jan. 7, 2014, Bangor Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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Extreme winter weather conditions are a part of life in Portland and throughout Maine, making virtually every mode of transportation potentially perilous. This was part of the reason the state issued a travel ban during the most recent blizzard. icyparkinglot

Given the frequency of such storms, property owners must be vigilant about ensuring the premises is reasonably free from slippery conditions for employees, customers and other guests.

Legislators in Maine have wrestled with just how much responsibility business owners should have to safeguard their site against such hazards.

Liability for icy, snowy conditions on one’s property date back to the late 1800s, and the case of Quimby v. Boston & Maine R.R. Co. decided in 1879. More recently, the case of Davis v. R.C. & Sons Paving Inc. in 2011 dealt with many of the same issues.

In terms of a company’s responsibility in the midst of a storm, this was tackled in 2001 by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Budzko v. One City Center Associates Ltd., a slip-and-fall case out of Cumberland County.

According to court records, plaintiff was injured after slipping and falling on an ice-covered landing at the bottom of a stairwell of a commercial building where she worked. The space was leased by a number of tenants, and between 500 and 1,000 people traversed the site daily. OCC was responsible for snow and ice removal, and this particular incident occurred in the midst of a winter storm.

Jury found in favor of plaintiff. Defendant appealed, arguing that because the storm was still ongoing at the time of the incident, it was not legally required to begin snow and ice removal until it had subsided. However, the state high court affirmed the trial court’s judgment, reasoning a business owes a duty to exercise reasonable care in providing a reasonably safe site when it knows or should know 500 people are more are coming and going off-site. The court decided it was foreseeable with that many people coming and going, someone would be injured if icy conditions were not addressed until after the storm let up.

Of course, there may be some instances in which a court may find it was too difficult for a business to keep its property free of ice and snow in the midst of blizzard-like conditions, like those we recently experienced. However, what the Budzko decision demonstrates is it might not be prudent for business – or private property owners, for that matter – to wait until a storm is completely over before initiating snow and ice maintenance.

In the more recent Davis case, a hospital worker sued after suffering injuries due to a slip-and-fall in the parking lot. This injury too occurred in late February. The plowing company hired by her employer to clear the lot was actively working to plow the lot at the time of the injury, but had not yet had a chance to sand it. Trial court dismissed the lawsuit – a decision later affirmed by the state high court – on the basis the company was in the process of performing maintenance. Further, the company’s maintenance had not created the hazardous condition that caused the injury – the storm had – which meant the company was not negligent.

Slip-and-fall injuries in Portland can be serious, and it’s important for victims to contact an experienced law firm with a proven history of success in the courtroom.

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

Additional Resources:

Budzko v. One City Center Associates Ltd., Feb. 21, 2001, Maine Supreme Judicial Court

More Blog Entries:

Dangerous Property Poses Hazards for Maine Tenants, Oct. 10, 2014, Portland Injury Lawyer Blog

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A new report by the Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program indicates the state is the No. 1 most-improved when it comes to slashing the number of potentially fatal antipsychotic medications doled out to elderly in nursing homes.

That’s certainly good news. But there’s more to it. bluepilles

The state still ranks 26th in the U.S. in terms of the total number of nursing home residents prescribed these dangerous drugs.

Many nursing homes have come to rely on these medications to treat elderly dementia patients, despite the fact the drugs aren’t approved for such use. The Federal Drug Administration has only granted use of the drugs for conditions of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

But this off-label use quells many of the symptoms caregivers find frustrating when it comes to dementia patients: confusion, aggression, anger and anxiety. This certainly makes the staff’s job easily and more convenient. However, it comes with a major risk.

These drugs, including Risperdal, Haldol and Seroquel, are stamped with a black box warning that expressly indicates they increase the risk of stroke and heart attack in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia.

Our Bangor nursing home abuse attorneys recognize this as a huge risk to our elderly loved ones. It is truly unacceptable given that the risks are clearly known and the primary benefit is to those providing care.

Maine has approximately 6,800 nursing home residents, and of those, about half have been diagnosed with dementia. That’s a relatively high percentage, according to elder care advocates.

Nursing homes across the state have been pushed to reduce use of antipsychotic medications on older patients as part of a federal program (Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes) that set the goal of dropping use of the drugs at least 15 percent between 2012 and 2014. Researchers with the inspector general previously discovered older nursing home residents were frequently being given the drugs, despite the fact that the practice violates government safety standards. In essence, it’s become a type of chemical restraint, a way to subdue patients so they are less difficult for staffers to handle.

Maine far surpassed that 15-percent goal, reducing its percentage of elderly nursing home patients on antipsychotic medications by 33 percent. In the final quarter of 2011, Maine nursing homes reported more than 27 percent of patients – close to a third – were prescribed antipsychotic drugs. In comparison, in the second quarter of 2014, little more than 18 percent received the medications.

Put another way, we now have roughly 1,230 elderly nursing home residents receiving these dangerous drugs, where we once had around 1,860.

This is progress, but it’s clearly not enough when there are still patients who are receiving drugs that we know are clearly perilous to their health. On a national scale, long-term elderly nursing care facilities reduced their rate by little more than 18 percent, from roughly 24 percent of patients to about 19.5 percent.

Some facilities opened up about how they weaned their patients – and their staffers – from reliance on these medications. Rather than injecting frantic patients with medications, one administrator said, staff are now trained to take them to a “multi-sensory” room where there is soft music, dim lighting and sweet smells to help induce calm.

Yet grave concern remains for those patients who continue to unnecessarily receive these dangerous medications.

For inquiries regarding nursing home injuries Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Fewer Maine nursing home residents treated with risky antipsychotic drugs, Dec. 9, 2014, By Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Nursing Home Death Investigated by Safety Officials, Dec. 27, 2014, Bangor Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently affirmed a judgment favoring a bicyclist struck and run over by a bus driver, dismissing defendant’s argument that the cyclist’s own actions prevented her from obtaining compensation.bicycleshadow

At issue in Semian v. Ledgemere Transportation, Inc. was 29 – A M.R.S. § 2070 (6). This statute allows that a bicyclist may pass a vehicle on the right in certain situations, but does so “at their own risk.”

Because of this provision, defendant bus company argued it could not be held liable for injuries sustained to a bicyclist who was attempting to pass on the right.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court disagreed.

Our Portland bicycle accident lawyers know state courts in Maine recognize the modified comparative fault system, with a 50 percent bar. Pursuant to 14 M.R.S.A. 156, damages attributed to defendants will be reduced by a plaintiff’s own negligence – up to 50 percent. If a plaintiff’s negligence is found to be anything above 50 percent, the claim is barred.

But what this means is just because a plaintiff may have shared some blame for what happened does not mean he or she has no right to collect anything.

And that’s essentially what defendants in this case had hoped to establish through this statute. It didn’t work.

According to court records, the incident giving rise to this claim occurred in June 2010, when a 20-year-old cyclist was traveling on Route 1 in Ogunquit, where she encountered a school bus owned and operated by a private company (defendant) and its employee. The bus driver stopped at an intersection, but was straddling the right and center lanes. After a complete stop, the bus began to pull forward. It then stopped again.

The cyclist believed the bus would continue straight, and thus began to pass on the right. However, instead of continuing straight, the driver of the bus turned right.

The cyclist was unable to stop. She was struck by the bus and fell underneath, suffering severe injuries when the vehicle ran over her torso.

Following a five-day trial in which she asserted negligence against both the driver and the bus company, plaintiff prevailed with a judgment in her favor. The jury did find, however, plaintiff to be 25 percent negligent. The defendant held the remaining 75 percent of negligence.

Total damages incurred by plaintiff were $1 million. However, because of her comparative fault, that award was reduced to $750,000.

The bus company appealed, citing the statute that indicated the cyclist was operating at her own risk when she chose to pass the bus on the right. Therefore, the company should be absolved of all liability.

But the state high court ruled this was not the intent of the legislature, and further, the statute doesn’t insulate a driver from liability, particularly in these circumstances.

The court did concede the statute might be ambiguous as to the issue of liability. Generally, though, the legislature’s adoption of the comparative fault model supplanted defense of assumption of risk.

There are very specific instances in which a defendant can claim assumption of risk as a bar to liability, but those include things like skiing, equine activities and agritourism. In these cases, lawmakers assigned legal responsibility to participants when it’s clear they knowingly assume the risk of an inherently dangerous activity. The assumption of risk defense can be invoked in other circumstances, but only when it’s clear the participant has been notified of the inherent risks and the limitations of the other party’s liability.

The law the bus company attempted to rely on here is structurally very different from the one involving assumption of risk. Most importantly, it does not expressly protect drivers against liability to passing cyclists. It references only the conduct of the cyclists. No statement is made regarding the effect of that conduct on a motorist’s liability.

Therefore, the jury’s judgment award was affirmed.

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

Additional Resources:

Semian v. Ledgemere Transportation, Inc. Dec. 16, 2014, Maine Supreme Judicial Court

More Blog Entries:

Maine Trucker Distracted Driving Endangers Motorists, Nov. 22, 2014, Portland Accident Lawyer Blog

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Law enforcement agencies have long struggled with the issue of drunk driving. The approaches have been varied, ranging from the initiation of sobriety checkpoints to enhanced patrols to even teaming up with bars, restaurants and advocacy groups to raise awareness and offer alternative transportation. light3

Now, a new study indicates increased traffic enforcement appears to be the best way to stop impaired drivers.

As reported by Maine Public Broadcasting, the study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation was published in the online journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

As our Portland DUI injury attorneys understand it, study authors analyzed nearly three dozen communities and corresponding law enforcement agencies employing varying measures of response to DUI.

In places where the number of traffic stops were significantly higher, the rates of impaired driving were substantially lower. Alternatively, in places that had relatively few traffic stop, the rate of drunk driving was much higher. In some cases, drunk driving rates were double in those communities with lax enforcement.

The same was also true in places that had more drunk driving arrests. In places where there were a higher number of arrests, there were in fact fewer drunk drivers on the road.

The primary study author reports the logic is simple: Word of mouth is quickly spread. When those in a community recognize DUI laws are not only stiff but also enforced strictly, they are more apt to refrain from getting behind the wheel. They know there is a better chance they’ll be caught.

Not only are their friends, relatives and neighbors spreading the word, people can see it for themselves. They pass as people are pulled to the side of the road. They can see the sobriety tests taking place. That drives home the point that violation of DUI laws won’t be tolerated.

Still, researchers say there is more that could likely be done. One place to begin exploring would be a reduction of legal blood-alcohol levels for drivers. As it now stands, a person is considered impaired when his or her blood-alcohol level reaches or exceeds 0.08 percent. For a 170-pound male who has had nothing to eat, that’s four alcoholic drinks in a single hour.

Meanwhile, in many other countries in Europe and Australia, motor vehicle drivers are deemed drunk if their BAC is at or above 0.05 percent. For that same man, that would mean about 2.5 drinks in an hour.

While such proposals have been made by state legislators in the U.S., so far none of those proposals has been adopted.

Drunk driving has decreased nationally by 43 percent since 1982, with officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association crediting a number of approaches, including tougher laws, increased enforcement and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving raising awareness and making it personal for people.

Yet problems continue to persist. Consider just recently a woman in Bath was arrested after slamming into a police cruiser whose lights and sirens were activated while the officer was en route to an alarm call. Although neither driver was injured, both vehicles were badly damaged. The woman who struck the officer was charged with operating under the influence.

Authorities throughout Maine do routinely hold various counter-DUI operations. Perhaps it’s time to increase those efforts.

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

Additional Resources:

Traffic stops persuade people to avoid drinking and driving, Dec. 30, 2014, By Patti Neighmond, Maine Public Broadcasting

More Blog Entries:

Maine DUI Deaths, Injuries and Arrests Spike During Holidays, Dec. 20, 2014, Portland DUI Injury Lawyer Blog

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The new year began in Maine with a series of tractor-trailer accidents along icy roads throughout the state. semitruck1

According to state troopers, crashes on Route 9 and on Interstate 95 shut down traffic for many hours – and in one case, until the next day – while crews worked to clear the wreckage. Amazingly, no serious injuries were reported, though one driver had minor cuts and bruises and 20 other passenger vehicles sustained damage. Additionally, a 30-foot section of guardrail attached to a bridge on Bond Brook overpass was decimated.

While icy, snow conditions are nothing new for Maine drivers, tractor-trailers are known to be less maneuverable. They start more slowly, they take more time to stop and they are especially susceptible to adverse road conditions. Considering the average 18-wheeler commercial truck weighs about 25 times that of a regular car (in some cases, up to 40 times more), the risk of serious injuries and death in tractor-trailer collisions is high. In fact, crashes involving large trucks account for one-eighth of all traffic fatalities.

Our Bangor trucking accident lawyers know this time of year, truck drivers and their employers must take special care to prevent accidents. That means not only driving with extra caution, but being sure not to overload or pressuring drivers to make unrealistic deadlines that may encourage them to speed or stretch federal drive-time laws.

In the recent cases, authorities are still analyzing which factors may have played a role in the specific crashes.

On Route 9, troopers reported three tractor-trailers skidded off the road on separate patches of the roadway in Hancock County. In Augusta, two other accidents involving semi-trucks occurred on I-95.

When the first crashes started to occur, around 4:30 a.m., the road was described as “slick.”

In one of the cases, a 22-year-old tractor-trailer driver was operating a flatbed tractor-trailer that was empty when she lost control on an icy patch of the highway and struck the guardrail. The impact not only destroyed the guardrail, it ripped the front axle off the truck, which fell onto the road below. The fuel tank of the truck was also damaged, and fuel was spilled all over the roadway, creating additional hazards for other drivers.

In another case, a semi-truck driver swerved to avoid a pickup truck whose driver braked in front of him. A collision was reported, but the truck driver’s efforts to avert a direct impact minimized the damage. Still, a crash of that nature indicates the trucker was likely following to closely or traveling too fast to start.

Many of the passenger vehicles were damaged when chunks of ice and snow were sent flying off both trucks and other cars and sport utility vehicles. Troopers urged all drivers to ensure ice and snow were removed from their vehicles before taking to the road.

While taking care when driving in adverse conditions is always advisable, it is especially important when sharing the road with large trucks. Use special caution when entering the highway from a ramp to merge, as large trucks in icy conditions may not be able to slow down in enough time to avoid a collision.

 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:

Icy roadways across Maine lead to multiple tractor-trailer accidents, Jan. 5, 2014, By Ryan McLaughlin, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine DUI Deaths, Injuries and Arrests Spike During Holidays, Dec. 20, 2014, Bangor Accident Lawyer Blog

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Falls in nursing homes are not all that uncommon, but they are generally preventable – particularly when they involve a patient falling out of a window. openwindow

According to The Bangor Daily News, state health officials in Frenchville launched an investigation into a nursing home in late November, following the death of an elderly female resident who apparently suffered a fall from second-story window of the facility Nov. 14. She died at a nearby hospital.

In following up with the center just five and six days later, state investigators witnessed a series of deficiencies in care that rose to the level of serious, meaning patients at the site were deemed to be in immediate danger.

Our Bangor nursing home neglect attorneys recognize all too often, safety concerns and serious dangers are not uncovered until something tragic occurs. A patient’s greatest advocates are family and friends who come to visit. It’s imperative they speak up if something doesn’t seem right. If injury results, seek legal counsel to explore your options.

In this case, employees at the center in question reportedly noted the woman was missing from her room sometime around 8 p.m. A search was conducted, with employees finally realizing a door to a nursing office had been locked from the inside. Someone retrieved a key, and when they entered, they found an empty wheelchair in front of an open window. The office was on the second floor.

The patient was discovered lying on the pavement, some 12 feet below the window. An emergency medical crew was summoned and transported the woman to a nearby hospital, where she died of massive head trauma.

Investigators noted an employee took an air conditioning unit out of that window several weeks earlier. However, the worker failed to replace a screen and one of the pins to ensure the window was secure. Investigators determined this was an indication workers failed to make sure all modes of egress accessible to residents was properly secured.

Even though this was an employee office where patients were not expected to be present, they clearly had means to enter. What’s more, patients with dementia are known to “wander” into areas or places where they aren’t necessarily designated to be. This patient in particular had a known history of such behavior. In fact, before this incident, she previously left the building on two other occasions. Another time, she was nearly successful in exiting the building through an open dining room window.

In order to avoid suspension or termination from Medicare and Medicaid programs, the facility has been ordered to adhere to a correction plan, which will involve keeping nursing doors locked after hours and developing new care plans for those patients known to be at risk of “elopement” or wandering.

The nursing home maintains the efforts requested by the state would likely not have had an impact on the outcome of this particular situation, but expressed a willingness to implement what they called “simple remedies.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 1,800 nursing home residents die every year in the U.S. due to fall-related injuries. Even those who survive are often left with disabilities that are permanent or significantly reduce their quality of life.

Many complaints of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are made in December and January, as this is when many family members make a point to spend more time with loved ones for the holidays.

If you are concerned about a case of potential nursing home neglect in Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Safety studied at Frenchville nursing home after resident dies after fall from window, Dec. 4, 2014, By Jessica Potila, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Dangerous Property Poses Hazards for Maine Tenants, Oct. 10, 2014, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog

 

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On Thanksgiving morning, a man in Bangor had to be extracted from his vehicle by firefighters using the jaws of life. The painstaking recovery occurred as the 32-year-old was leaving a nearby restaurant close to 1 a.m. on Bangor Mall Boulevard. The snow was wet and heavy, and it was the second major storm since winter season has taken hold. beerhand

Officials say the vehicle was so badly damaged, there was no way to get to the seriously injured man except with heavy equipment. Although details of exactly how the crash occurred haven’t yet been released, we do know it was a newer-model vehicle that took a sharp turn, struck a stone and flipped onto its side.

The driver, who suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, has been charged with operating under the influence. It’s believed he previously consumed alcohol or drugs or possibly both before getting behind the wheel. It was the only serious accident to reportedly occur in city limits amidst the storm.

Still, he’s lucky.

Our Bangor drunk driving injury lawyers know these cases often don’t end as well. In far too many cases, the driver is killed. Worse, innocent passengers or other motorists or pedestrians may be the victims.

Serious and fatal crashes spike markedly from the Thanksgiving holiday weekend through New Year’s Day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an average of 36 deaths occur on American roads on any given day as a result of alcohol impairment or drug impairment by drivers. However, that number soars to 45 deaths per day during the Christmas holiday and 54 during the New Year’s holiday.

This has for years prompted law enforcement officials to respond with a series of targeted efforts to fight back. These include enhanced, roving patrols specifically seeking drunk drivers during peak times. It also includes sobriety checkpoints at various thoroughfares at any given point.

These efforts have the effect of more arrests. But of course, so does the fact that more people are drinking and driving during this period as well. Unfortunately, far too many don’t seem to be getting the message.

Just recently in southern California, officials reported a drunk driver left more than a dozen people injured when he careened into a group of friends walking through a residential neighborhood to admire holiday lights. The 28-year-old driver was reportedly under the influence (and has a history of prior convictions for this offense) and also a suspended license. He slammed into two vehicles before barreling into a crowd of 13 who were standing on a sidewalk looking at Christmas lights.

At least one of those individuals remains in intensive care.

And in Illinois recently, a man was sentenced to three years in prison following a fatal DUI crash on Christmas Eve in which his own 8-year-old daughter – a passenger in his vehicle, traveling to her grandmother’s home – was killed.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is promoting its annual “Tie One One for Safety” holiday campaign, urging those who will imbibe this season to plan ahead for a safe way home.

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:

Driver rescued with jaws of life, charged with OUI after flipping car near Bangor Mall, Nov. 27, 2014, By Mario Moretto, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Drunk Driving a Costly, Risky Chance in Maine, Aug. 1, 2013, Bangor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog