When you witness an accident, especially involving a close family member or loved one, it can often be a traumatic experience. Thankfully, the law provides various opportunities to recover in the wake of these incidents. When a bystander only hears — and does not see — an accident occur, however, the legal calculus can often become complex.

In a recent Maine Supreme Court opinion, a couple sued after an accident resulted in their son’s death. The plaintiffs had their own company and employed their son as a foreman. On the day of the accident, an employee of the defendant arrived at the plaintiffs’ home to deliver supplies. The delivery included multiple pieces of extremely heavy concrete. During delivery, one of the pieces fell off the forklift and landed on the plaintiffs’ son. The plaintiff’s father was in another part of the house when he heard a loud bang, followed by screaming. He ran to the scene and found his son lying face down with blood coming out of his mouth. After the concrete was removed, the plaintiff performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his son for thirty to fifty minutes. The plaintiff’s son never regained consciousness and died by the time EMTs arrived. For several hours after he died, his body remained in the yard of the plaintiffs’ home awaiting the official investigation.

Following the accident, the deceased’s father was unable to move back into his home because of emotional pain and threatened suicide several times to his wife. The couple was later divorced. The deceased’s father filed a bystander negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claim individually, and the deceased’s mother filed a loss of consortium claim against the defendant. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Under state law, a negligent city, town, county, or state government official may be held liable for negligence through a Maine personal injury lawsuit. However, unlike typical personal injury claims, these cases impose significant burdens on injury victims. For over a century, the doctrine of sovereign immunity protected states and government agencies from civil lawsuits for their negligent conduct. However, to address the inherent unfairness in the doctrine, lawmakers have determined that these laws are not absolute.

Those who have suffered injuries because of a Maine government entity’s negligence may file a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) or the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA). The avenue of relief depends on the case’s circumstances, including the defendant, injury, and accident location. The FTCA provides Maine citizens a way to hold federal government employees liable for their tortious acts. On the other hand, the MTCA, is more restrictive, and allows these lawsuits in limited circumstances.

Under the MTCA, injury victims can pursue lawsuits against government employees under four circumstances. The first circumstance includes when the lawsuit stems from the government’s negligent ownership or maintenance of a vehicle or machinery. The following situation, is when the injury occurred at a public government building. This includes locations such as police stations, fire departments, public schools, and libraries. However, the government is not liable for accidents occurring because of the ownership or maintenance of areas such as historical sites or unimproved land. Lastly, the government may be liable for damages resulting from road construction or pollutant discharge.

As people become accustomed and adjust to social distancing and the “new normal,” our shopping centers and roads are becoming busy again. With more people out and about, that also means a higher likelihood of potential accidents. Car collisions can truly occur anytime, anywhere, and often happen when you least expect it to. When you find yourself involved in an accident, sometimes it can fuel a lot of adrenaline and anxiety. However, everyone should take a few crucial steps when they’re involved in a Maine auto accident, especially in regards to reporting the incident to the proper authorities.

A recent news report discussed a car accident that took place near the entrance of a shopping center and left at least one individual hospitalized. According to those on the scene who witnessed the accident, a car collided with a sign placed where two lanes diverge. The car then slid into the opposite lane and crashed into a truck. Following the accident, local fire rescue, police, and the sheriff’s office all responded to the crash. Many cars near the accident were trapped in the lane and surrounded by emergency vehicles until law enforcement could re-direct traffic around the scene of the accident.

Auto accidents can be an extremely stressful experience, and are often laced with chaos and confusion. In Maine, following a car accident, state law requires that you file a report to the police if you are on a public road and have caused more than $1,000 in property damage or bodily injury. In parking lots or private property, however, you do not have to report. Failure to notify the local authorities of an accident is considered a Class E crime and can result in your license being suspended.

Product liability claims generally arise when an individual suffers injuries as a result of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product. Under Maine product liability law, any person who is a “reasonably expected” user of the defective product may have standing to file a lawsuit, regardless of whether they purchased the product. Further, although many products have limitations on warranties, state law provides that manufacturers and sellers cannot limit the implied warranties on consumer products. It is important to note that the law distinguishes between consumers and commercial purchasers. Despite the broad rights and remedies that consumers have, Maine product liability lawsuits often entail many challenges.

Maine product liability claims are often complicated, especially when the defective product was bought through Amazon, or a similar online retailer. Historically, Amazon maintained protection for defective products purchased through their site. However, the tide has begun to turn, and courts have found that Amazon cannot always shield itself from liability for defective products. This policy shift has occurred mainly after a series of situations where consumers suffered injuries from defective products sold by third-parties. However, lawmakers are now focusing on Amazon’s liability for its own defective merchandise.

A recent news report indicates that senators across the United States are demanding that Amazon recall hazardous Amazon-brand products. Many of these products are marketed under “AmazonBasics.” Safety experts discovered that many defective products remained available for sale, despite reports that they presented fire hazards. Senators wrote to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, indicating that Amazon’s refusal to remove defective products may pose a serious threat to consumers.

Maine head-on collisions are typically some of the most devastating types of accidents because they tend to lead to serious injuries or death. Unlike other collisions, head-on collisions involve two cars that are traveling toward each other before the accident. In these accidents, the drivers and front passengers are often flung toward, and maybe through, the front windshield. According to the Insurance Information Institute, head-on collisions account for approximately 2 percent of motor vehicle accidents, but they lead to 10 percent of yearly accident-related deaths.

For example, recently, a Maine news report described a harrowing head-on collision involving a car and a pickup truck. An initial investigation revealed that a sedan heading east crossed into a center lane. The pickup truck driver was traveling westbound when the sedan slammed into his vehicle. The sedan driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his car. His female passenger was wearing a seat belt but died at the scene of the accident. The pickup truck passengers were wearing seat belts, but were transferred to a hospital for their injuries.

Like the collision above, most head-on accidents occur when a motorist crosses to the wrong side of the road. Although these situations may occur because of poor road conditions, defective vehicles, and bad judgment, the majority occur because of driver impairment. The at-fault driver may be fatigued or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control cites drowsy driving as a leading cause of head-on collisions.

For many people, motorcycles are a preferred method of transportation for their day-to-day transportation needs. Motorcycles are often less expensive to buy and own when compared to a car, they are faster, and need less storage space and gas. For these reasons, motorcycles seem to be growing in popularity for both commuters and casual riders. However, motorcycles can also pose a number of unique dangers – especially when ridden without a helmet. This is why many states, like Maine, have implemented helmet laws in order to increase road safety for motorcycle operators and to encourage the community to engage in safer practices when they choose to ride a motorcycle.

In a recent news report, two Maine residents were killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. The two individuals were on their motorcycle when it collided head-on with an SUV coming from the opposite direction. The pair were traveling on their motorcycle when they veered into the lane of oncoming traffic. The driver of the SUV was transported to a local hospital with some complaints of pain, but his passenger was uninjured. Both motorcycle passengers were reported dead on the scene, and neither were wearing helmets.

Across the U.S., not all states have helmet laws. However, Maine has had a mandatory motorcycle helmet law since 1967. In Maine, violations of helmet laws can lead to a traffic infraction. Motorcycle and moped operators in Maine must always wear protective headgear or a helmet if they are under 18, under a learner’s permit or within a year of completing a driving test, or the passenger of a driver required to wear headgear.

Salmonella is a common bacterium associated with many food-related illnesses in the United States. There are many challenges with containing the bacteria because it cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. Despite the benign presentation of food products containing salmonella, the consequences of ingesting it are often severe. The bacteria often result in salmonellosis, an illness marked by severe gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Individuals who suffered illness related to contaminated foods should contact a Maine product liability attorney to discuss options for recovering for their losses.

Although salmonella infections occur infrequently, the contamination can cause serious illnesses leading to hospitalization and even death. Salmonella poisoning is particularly dangerous for medically vulnerable individuals. These populations include pregnant individuals, infants, older adults, and those undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious conditions. Many infections stem from foods processed with contaminated meat and nut butter, raw eggs, dairy products, raw or undercooked meat, and raw fruits and vegetables. Salmonella poisoning occurs more often in the warmer temperatures, as the bacteria grow faster with heat. Further, many people consume a more substantial amount of raw fruits, vegetables and undercooked meats during the warmer months.

For instance, according to a recent news report, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently advised consumers to discard peaches that they believe carry salmonella. After nearly 70 people suffered illnesses related to salmonella contamination, the FDA discovered that the common denominator was peaches packed by a specific company. The packing company explained that the majority of their peaches were sold to one grocery chain, Aldis, but they were distributed to others across 16 states. FDA officials explained that determining the cause of contamination is challenging because contamination can occur at any step of distribution, including picking, transporting, packing, handling, and unloading.

During these warmer summer months, everyone is heading outdoors to cool off. While some people prefer to spend their days by the pool, others have been enjoying the warmer weather by spending a day on a lake or the ocean. Although these trips are usually filled with fond memories and valuable time spent with friends and family, many of the recreational activities that take place at the lake or beach can be dangerous and lead to accidents. When such accidents occur, those who are responsible may be held accountable through a Maine boat accident lawsuit.

In a recent news report, a tragic boat collision on Toddy Pond left a local man dead. During a gathering of friends and family, a boat was struck from behind by a a teenage girl operating a jet ski who was also part of the group. The jet ski accelerated suddenly and collided with the boat’s stern as the two boats were traveling through a headway speed portion of Toddy Pond.

The victim was with several others dangling their feet in the water sitting on the back of the boat when struck by the jet ski and thrown into the water.  The victim was not wearing a life jacket. In addition, a thirteen year-old boy who had been wearing a life jacket was also injured by the jet ski and was brought to a local hospital with head, leg, and potential internal injuries. According to the authorities, on board the boat were thirteen people, and a driver and passenger on the jet ski. Local officials and a dive team found the victim’s body in Toddy Pond, and the collision remains under investigation.

In Maine, individuals who suffered injuries or died in a car or other accident because of another’s fault, may be entitled to compensation for their damages and losses. However, even if the evidence suggests that the other party was at fault, each case presents unique circumstances that may affect liability and recovery. One of the most challenging situations is when the defendant experiences a medical emergency that leads to an accident.

Under Maine’s negligence laws, plaintiffs must establish that the at-fault party deviated from a reasonable person’s standard of care. A “reasonable person,” is one who exercises average care and judgment in their conduct. However, the law allows for flexibility, which is relevant to the affirmative “sudden emergency” defense. This doctrine applies in situations where the at-fault party experiences an unavoidable medical event or encounters an “Act of God”, that leads them to cause an accident.

For example, recently, a Maine news report described an accident involving a medical emergency. In that case, a driver experienced an undisclosed medical emergency when he crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic and off the road. The driver then slammed into a pedestrian. The pedestrian was taken to a hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. Although the case is still under investigation, police urge Mainers to engage in safe driving behaviors and refrain from operating their vehicle if they are ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

COVID-19 continues to cause medical, financial, and psychological stress on people throughout the United States. In addition to the general fear surrounding the virus, many people, including those residing in Maine nursing homes, face the pandemic’s continued threat. These vulnerable individuals are at risk for serious medical consequences if they contract the coronavirus. Although most nursing homes and assisted living facilities understand the heightened need for health and safety measures, these facilities continue to see a rise in cases and deaths.

Maine nursing homes whose staff do not possess the training, skills, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely care for the facility’s residents, can cause a widespread outbreak. Inadequate and defective equipment can have disastrous effects on staff, residents, and visitors. Although, the government provides a broad range of immunity to these facilities for lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine nursing home neglect and abuse victims must understand their rights and remedies.

For example, a national news source recently reported a troubling situation where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent inadequate PPE to nursing homes facing the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were benefactors of a widespread effort to provide medical professionals with PPE. However, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities reported that the shipments they received included questionable products. The facilities complained that the boxes included unmarked zip-top bags with loose gloves, defective surgical masks, and protective gowns without arm openings. FEMA claimed that although the equipment met regulatory guidelines, they would be contacting the private contractor to issue replacements.

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