Under the state’s “move over” laws and Title 29-A §2054-9 MRSA, Maine drivers must pull over or slow down when they encounter a stopped emergency vehicle. Emergency vehicles generally refer to police vehicles, fire trucks, tow trucks, highway safety vehicles, and ambulances. Drivers approaching emergency vehicles must pull as far to the right side of the roadway that is safe and practical. While many accidents involve drivers hitting emergency vehicles, in some cases, haphazard emergency vehicles cause serious accidents. The National Safety Council reports that their most recent statistics indicate that nearly 170 people suffered fatal injuries in an accident involving emergency vehicles. Over 50% of these fatalities involved victims who were inside passenger vehicles.

For instance, a Maine news report recently described a harrowing ambulance crash on Route 163. The ambulance crossed into the centerline and slammed into two vehicles before veering off the road, according to reports. The ambulance first hit a sedan and then struck a small SUV, sending both cars off of the road. Fortunately, the drivers did not sustain serious injuries as they were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. The cause of the accident is under investigation; however, speed does not seem to be a factor in collisions.

Determining fault and liability in Maine emergency vehicle accidents can be a daunting process. The challenges largely stem from the state’s immunity laws which limit the types of claims citizens can file against the government. While many ambulances are run through private companies, the government often funds, owns or operates the vehicles. In these cases, injury victims may be left with little to no recourse for the driver’s negligence.

While car accidents are extremely dangerous, most people forget about the risks associated with pedestrian accidents. A pedestrian accident involves an incident involving a pedestrian being hit by a motor vehicle. These accidents can often be more harmful than car accidents because a motor vehicle moves much faster than a pedestrian. Individuals hurt in a pedestrian accident will often file a lawsuit against the responsible party to recover monetary compensation for the injuries they suffered. Below is an example of a recent pedestrian accident along with statistics discussing the prevalence, causes and misassumptions about these types of accidents.

According to a recent news report, a man was killed in Portland after being struck by a motor vehicle. The victim was walking down the street around 1:20 A.M. when he was hit by a car. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries. No charges have been filed against the driver yet, but police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact them.

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are common in Maine. In the state, from 2016 to 2020, there have been over 1,300 total pedestrian crashes. While most of these have resulted in injury, over 5% of these accidents have been fatal. Regardless of the age of the victim, such accidents can take a dramatic physical and emotional toll on the individual harmed. However, on average, the most common age of the pedestrian is between the ages of 30 and 39 years old. But in over 15% of pedestrian accidents, the injured person has been a child.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides leadership and guidance on natural resources, food, agriculture, nutrition, and biological products. Many Maine product liability lawsuits follow consumer complaints to the FDA. While the agency is responsible for protecting the public, many products slip through until consumers suffer an adverse side effect. Some dangerous products even remain available but receive a “black box” warning.

The FDA issues black box warnings to alert the public about prescriptions or medical devices that pose serious and life-threatening side effects. The warnings often include specific warnings to vulnerable populations, such as infants, pregnant women, and older adults. The FDA works in conjunction with pharmaceutical companies to study the products before issuing a warning. These warnings generally follow post-market studies; in other words, the warnings come after significant numbers of consumers have already used the product. Even though the product may pose serious dangers, the benefits may outweigh the risks in some cases. Individuals who consume products with a black box warning should consult with their physician to determine the appropriate amount of monitoring.

While black-box warnings have many implications for prescribing physicians and pharmacies, they may also impact a Maine product liability lawsuit. Drug companies often resist these warnings to preserve sales; however, the warnings may also protect them from certain lawsuits. Many common medicines have black box warnings, such as antidepressants, anticoagulants, diabetes medications, and antibiotics.

Under Maine law, motorists involved in an accident must stop at the incident scene or return to the scene. Those who leave the scene of an accident may face severe criminal and civil penalties. In addition, engaging in this negligent conduct can exacerbate a victim’s injuries and cause a fatality that could have otherwise been prevented. While a hit-and-run can occur in an accident, they tend to occur after a motorist hits a pedestrian or cyclist. These accidents often occur in the early morning or late evening hours on roads without a designated bike lane.

There are many reasons why a motorist may leave the scene of an accident; however, these explanations rarely excuse the driver’s conduct. Drivers frequently leave the scene of an accident because they were:

  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • Operating their vehicle without a valid license or insurance,
  • Avoiding liability or fearful of confrontation,or
  • Experiencing a medical event.

In some situations, the driver may claim that they did not know they hit another person.

Continue reading

The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, the State’s highest court, recently issued a decision on the liability of landlords in Maine premises liability cases. The issue before the court was whether reserving access to the premises for inspections and repairs created a dispute about whether the landlords had exclusive control over the premises.

In that case, a woman was visiting her daughter and son-in-law at a house they were renting. She was going down the stairs in the house and fell off the landing at the bottom of the stairs. The landing step was eleven inches tall, which was taller than the rest of the stairs on the staircase, and did not comply with the applicable building codes. The woman filed a premises liability lawsuit against the landlords alleging that they were liable for the injuries she suffered due to the fall.

Under Maine premises liability law, a landlord is liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition on property under a tenant’s exclusive control if the landlord: 1) fails to disclose to the tenant the existence of a latent defect that a landlord knows or should have known existed and which the tenant did not know of and should not have reasonably discovered; 2) gratuitously undertakes to make repairs and negligently completes the repairs; or 3) expressly agrees to maintain the premises in good repair. A landlord is liable for injuries to the tenant, as well as the tenant’s guests and others on the premises with the tenant’s consent. Exclusive control generally refers to the power over the premises that a landlord reserves according to the terms of the lease.

Most motorists have witnessed or been the unfortunate victim of a road rage incident. While the at-fault driver may believe that they are justly acting out their anger, stress, or frustration, this conduct can be deadly. Those responsible for road rage accidents in Maine may be held liable for their negligent or reckless conduct.

The safety study by the AAA exchange reports that aggressive driving is common among drivers in the United States. They categorize aggressive or road rage as purposeful unsafe driving conducted deliberately will ill-will or disregard safety. Some common examples of road rage include:

  • Speeding in dense traffic

Although many individuals involved in accidents file personal injury lawsuits after a car collision, sometimes people assume that if the at-fault party is facing criminal charges following a car accident, that they do not have to file a personal injury suit. This assumption is incorrect and could cost you, as the potential plaintiff, the opportunity to collect compensation following a major accident.

According to a recent news report, a suspected drunk driver injured an attendant after crashing into a toll booth. At around 1:40am, state police reported that the driver lost control of their vehicle and crashed into the booth, causing a fire to break out. The shattered glass and debris from the impact of the car hit the toll attendant on duty, who was taken to the hospital. The driver of the vehicle was charged with aggravated operating under the influence and has previous convictions for speeding and driving to endanger and multiple suspensions. The attendant was released from the hospital but was still in pain and explained he felt lucky to have escaped alive from the accident.

Even though the at-fault driver in this accident was charged with aggravated operating under the influence, this does not mean that the toll booth worker will automatically receive compensation for their injuries. To receive compensation for physical injuries or property damage following a car accident, a separate personal injury claim must be filed in civil court.

As the holiday season approaches, many people will be traveling out of state to visit friends and loved ones. The influx of travelers often results in an increased risk of an accident. While all accidents can cause serious injuries and damages, Maine drivers who suffer injuries in an out-of-state accident may face additional challenges.

Recovering damages after these types of accidents can be difficult because of the complex interplay between state and federal laws. Generally, those who wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit must establish that a particular court has “jurisdiction” over the parties or claim. In most cases, the law requires plaintiffs to file the claim in the state where the accident occurred. However, depending on the unique facts and circumstances of a car, the injury victim may be able to file a claim in their state or where the at-fault driver resides.

Choosing the appropriate venue is critical to the success of a personal injury claim. While many prefer to file a claim in their home state, this may not be possible if the accident occurs in another state. However, there are exceptions, such as when the at-fault driver resides in the same state as the plaintiff. In other situations, the plaintiff may choose to file the claim in federal court. This option is only available if the parties meet the jurisdictional requirements of the statute.

In Maine, those charged with Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OUI) may face serious criminal and civil penalties for any ensuing damages and injuries caused by impaired driving. An OUI refers to a motorist operating their vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. The threshold may vary depending on the type of vehicle the driver was operating.

In most personal injury and wrongful death claims, the injury victim or deceased’s estate must establish all the elements of negligence claims. In some cases, the at-fault party is the person operating the vehicle that the victim was a passenger. However, in Maine, passengers have the same right to recovery regardless of whether they were in the vehicle with the at-fault driver.

While the law permits the claim, injured passengers should be cognizant of how the state’s comparative negligence laws may play into their cases. In Maine, the law may bar a plaintiff’s action if their negligence is equal to or greater than the defendant’s. Unlike other states, a violation of a statute does not constitute negligence per se. However, the evidence may be used to support a negligence claim. Cases involving OUIs can present challenges to plaintiffs, especially if the defendant or other party claims that the plaintiff knew that the driver was under the influence. However, Maine law explains that a plaintiff’s awareness of a danger which results in his injury is not an absolute bar to recovery. This frequently comes up when an injured passenger knew that the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While accident reporting agencies group incidents into broad categories, in reality, each accident has a unique set of circumstances that can impact medical and financial recovery. Those who suffer injuries in a Maine car accident should not assume that the law entitles them to compensation. Law enforcement, emergency responders, medical providers, and insurance companies all have different interests in mind, and a victim’s compensation is not necessarily their priority. As such, it is critical that injury victims contact an attorney to ensure that they recover compensation from the liable parties.

Although the media depictions portray attorneys primarily in the courtroom, in reality, experienced attorneys are valuable during all stages of a claim. Maine lawyers can assist during investigations, settlement discussions, mediations, pre-trial proceedings, litigation, and appeals. Unlike many other parties involved in an accident or claim, a plaintiff’s attorney’s priority is to obtain a favorable outcome for their client. To accomplish this objective, a victim’s attorney will engage in a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances that led to the incident.

In the vast majority of cases, an accident indicates a failure on someone’s part. The failure could step from defective machinery, human error, or an environmental condition. While initial police investigations may point to a suspected cause or general fault, a thorough investigation can reveal why an accident occurred, and at which points it could have been prevented. This is especially critical in severe or fatal accidents where the parties may not be able to recount the events.

Contact Information