We assume that when someone’s conduct behind the wheel is so egregious they receive a “lifetime driving ban” that it means just that – they’ll no longer be able to lawfully drive. It turns out that it’s not so in Maine. car keys

This was highlighted in a recent case out of Fairfield. There, a man previously from Skowhegan was convicted of drunk driving for a 1996 crash that killed three people and injured two others. For this crime, as part of his sentence, the judge imposed a lifelong ban on his driving privileges. That should have been the end of the story, but as it turns out, there is a loophole in Maine law. If a person’s driver’s license has been “permanently” revoked, they are still allowed to petition the court for reinstatement of that license if 10 years have passed since they were released from prison.

After this case was highlighted by the Press Herald, two lawmakers from central Maine who are members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee vowed to introduce a bill that would scrap that section of the law. In an interview, they noted it was “upsetting” that the word “permanent” doesn’t actually mean that under state law. They say there should be no chance for a driver like this one to appeal years after a judge ruled they should never be allowed to drive again.

Continue reading

When nursing home abuse and neglect is suspected in Maine facilities – including those that provide care for vulnerable and disabled adults – it is expected that reports made to the Office of Aging and Disability Services will trigger an independent investigation by the state’s office of Adult Protective Services. However, it appears in a number of cases, that is not happening.old woman

The Bangor Daily News reports that five separate health care providers in a four-county area came forward and shared their referral numbers with the paper. Collectively, there were more than 550 allegations of suspected nursing home abuse, neglect, and exploitation over a four-year span ending in 2015. However, APS had final reports for just 40 of those.

It’s not clear whether the state is simply choosing not to investigate accidents or if the internal standards have changed. What health care providers are telling journalists, however, is that while they continue to file their referrals as suspected cases of abuse arise, they rarely anymore receive reports back from the state about the outcome or even existence of an investigation.

Continue reading

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals that 43 percent of children killed in car accidents were not wearing a seat belt or buckled in properly to a car seat. Among children involved in a fatal crash in which someone died (not necessarily them), 20 percent were not properly buckled. cihld in car

Rates of child fatality varied significantly from state to state, which underscores the argument that public information and state regulations can potentially have a direct impact on motor vehicle safety for children. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that seat belt usage tends to be higher for all kids in states that have tighter seat belt laws and enforcement.

In Maine, Maine Rev. Stat. Ch. 19, 1-2801 requires that children under 40 pounds be properly secured in a child safety seat in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction. The fine is $50 for a first-time offense and cannot be suspended by the court. Passengers under the age of 18 have to be wearing seat belts, and here again, the fine is $50 for a first-time offense.

Continue reading

Lawmakers in Maine are weighing whether to amend the state’s wrongful death statutes to allow claims for the deaths of unborn children. The proposal would specifically exempt physicians who conduct legal abortions, although some pro-choice advocates say the law would nonetheless undercut women’s reproductive rights. pregnant woman

Supporters of the measure opine it’s an avenue for family members to seek financial redress when a fetus dies as a result of neglect, default, or some wrongful act – by a driver, a doctor, a manufacturer, or another party. Those opposed to the measure say it isn’t necessary under state law, and the true purpose is to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.

The bill, L.D. 327, would give families the opportunity to seek damages in probate court under wrongful death statutes if a fetus that is viable (i.e., has reached at least 24 weeks of age) dies as a result of someone else’s negligence. This would not be a unique move. In fact, 40 other states – including all of the other states in New England – provide some avenue for family members to seek financial compensation if an unborn baby dies because of another party’s wrongdoing or neglect.

Continue reading

Very often, when we hear of vehicles “crossing the center line” in traffic, the cause is distracted driving. This action is especially dangerous because it’s the catalyst for head-on collisions. These collisions have some of the worst outcomes because the force of the impact is doubled due to the traveling speed of both vehicles. That’s why head-on collisions account for 10 percent of all auto accident deaths, even though they account for just two percent of crashes. It’s believed the percentage of head-on collisions may even be increasing due to the rising impact of distraction. distracted driving

Two fatal car accidents in Maine recently were head-on collisions. Although investigations are ongoing and authorities haven’t yet cited causation, it would not be a stretch to imagine distraction may have played a role, particularly given a new study by Zendrive that found drivers use their phones in 88 out of 100 trips.

Continue reading

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Maine, since it jeopardizes the safety and well-being of everyone on the road. It is true that the number of alcohol-fueled crashes has slid slightly in recent years, while the number of drug-related accidents has spiked, driven largely by the rising use of illicit and prescription opioids and the increasing availability of legal marijuana.drugs

Still, as Maine Public Radio reports, people shouldn’t think this means alcohol use is no longer a serious issue on our roads.

Recently, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report on the issue of drug-impaired driving. Drawing from the most recent 2015 data of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the GHSA revealed drugs were present in 43 percent of all fatally injured drivers with known test results (which were 57 percent of the total). Meanwhile, alcohol was present in 37 percent of those cases. A roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014 found 22 percent of motorists on weekend nights and days were under the influence of drugs, most often marijuana. In solely looking at the headlines, one might think drugs are responsible for more traffic fatalities than alcohol. That’s actually not what the report says.

Continue reading

The outcome of a vicarious liability claim against an employer of a dog owner in a recent Maine dog bite injury lawsuit hinged on whether the employee was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time the dog attacked. The case, recently before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, was challenging because the employee and dog owner lived in the same place where he worked. Additionally, the dog owner’s employer was also the victim’s landlord. dog

The child dog bite injury happened at an apartment complex where the plaintiff and her son resided and for which the dog owner, who also lived on site, was responsible for maintenance.

Vicarious liability, per Maine Revised Statutes 29-A-1109, holds that employers can be responsible for the acts of their employees if they approved or had knowledge of the employee’s actions and either approved or retained benefits, proceeds, profits, or advantages from the acts. Relevant also in this case is Maine Revised Statutes 9-729-3961, which outlines reimbursement for damage done by animals, including dogs. It holds that when an animal causes damage to a person or property due to the negligence of the animal’s keeper or owner, that owner or keeper is liable in a civil action to the injured person for the damage, as long as the injured person wasn’t more at fault than the dog’s keeper or owner.

Continue reading

The loss of a child is a profound and devastating loss that leaves parents, siblings, and other loved ones forever changed. It can be particularly traumatizing when the death occurs suddenly and unnecessarily, such as in a car accident.car accident

Motor vehicle crashes remain one of the top causes of childhood mortality and serious injuries, and new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows they are on the rise nationally.

Just recently, a nine-year-old Maine boy died after suffering severe traumatic brain injuries in a car accident on Interstate 95 that closed the highway for hours. The boy, from Kittery, was killed in the Connecticut crash while seated in the back of a Toyota Camry, seat belt fastened. According to the Bangor Daily News, the driver of his vehicle had to stop abruptly due to a sudden slowdown in traffic up ahead. The 29-year-old driver of a sport utility vehicle directly behind them slammed into the back of the car and then pushed it into the vehicle ahead. The driver who rear-ended the Camry was also from Maine.

Continue reading

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of a university and against a student who suffered an injury in a slip-and-fall accident on campus.ice

According to court records, the issue in this case was not the merits of the plaintiff’s case but instead whether she filed within the statutory 180-day filing period according to 14 M.R.S. § 8107, which details the notice that is required when a plaintiff plans to file a lawsuit against a governmental entity. Many colleges are considered governmental entities, and therefore, plaintiffs making injury claims against them must follow such provisions.

Per the facts viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (as the one against whom the summary judgment was entered), the plaintiff suffered an injury when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice outside her dorm on the Gorham campus of the University of Southern Maine. This injury occurred in mid-January 2014. As a result of that fall, the plaintiff suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments and had to undergo surgery.

Continue reading

Spring brings a welcome respite for many in Maine who braved a bitter winter and are now looking forward to warmer days ahead. But for drivers, spring also brings what can be an unexpected hazard:  frost heaves.car accident

These are an uplift of water-soaked soil or other surface deposits that rise up due to expansion and freezing. In some cases, the rise can be so dramatic that it breaks through the pavement of the road, creating a major risk for drivers. Maine residents have given the road features many monikers:  asphalt crevasses, nature’s speed bumps, chuck holes, and paved divots. Although they regularly appear every spring season, they can still catch operators by surprise.

Continue reading