There are many challenges drivers face as they age. Vision deteriorates and reflexes dull. That’s why many states – including Maine – have provisions in place requiring senior drivers to undergo additional testing and in-person renewals.older people

The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles is one of the more stringent. Drivers are first required to undergo a vision test at age 40 in order to renew their license. Drivers older than 65 have to renew their state-issued licenses every four years, as opposed to every six years, as younger drivers do. Drivers 62 and older are required to undergo a vision test every second renewal. The bureau also accepts requests from anyone with personal knowledge of a driver who may pose a safety concern to others. Road tests may be required if the bureau has reason to believe the driver may be unfit. Bureau personnel have the authority to restrict the driver’s licenses of elder drivers to prevent them from driving when it’s dark or only allow driving within a certain area.

As the population ages (the U.S. Census opines the percentage of the over-65 population will more than double by 2050), states are not rushing to impose additional regulations. In fact, some state legislatures have actually been actively rejecting these measures, according to a recent report published by the Portland Press-Herald. In fact, while 60 million older adults are expected to be on the nation’s roadways by 2030, some legislators are taking the position that licenses should not be restricted solely on the basis of age.

Continue reading

A judge in Central Maine ordered two pit bull dogs euthanized after an August attack in Augusta resulted in the death of a much smaller dog and serious injuries to the deceased animal’s owner.pitbull

The owner of the two pit bulls, who also owns a dog grooming business, had advocated in the Capital Judicial Center to spare the dogs’ lives. During a two-day non-jury trial, the owner had been accused of two civil violations for keeping a dangerous dog. Title 7, Part 9, Chapter 727 of Maine Revised Statutes holds that a person who owns or keeps a dangerous dog commits a civil violation, for which the court must impose a fine of between $250 and $1,000 – none of which can be suspended. If someone is injured as a result of an attack by a dangerous dog, the court can order the identification and confinement of the dogs, as well as restitution paid by the dangerous dog’s owner. If a dog owner or keeper refuses or neglects to comply with a previous court order, and the dog wounds a person or domestic animal, the owner or keeper has to pay the injured person treble damages and costs that are recovered in a civil action.

Chapter 729 of the state’s revised statutes goes over injuries and damages caused by animals, holding in part that when an animal damages a person or property due to the negligence of the dog’s owner or keeper, the owner or keeper is liable in a civil action to the injured person for the amount of the damages caused, as long as the harm wasn’t occasioned by the fault of the injured person. The only time damages would not be owed to a person injured in a dog attack would be if the court finds the injured person’s fault exceeded that of the dog’s keeper or owner.

Continue reading

Usually, when we think of property owner liability, we’re thinking of a business that is responsible after a customer slips and falls or is attacked in a parking lot. But premises liability can extend to private homeowners too. It does depend on the situation, and private homeowners usually don’t owe the same high level of care to their guests that businesses do when they welcome members of the public. Nonetheless, a failure to use reasonable care can result in liability. Claims are typically paid by one’s homeowners’ insurance. glass door

Recently, the father of a single mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a private homeowner responsible for a house in Waterville where his daughter suffered a fatal fall from the second story.

According to The Portland Press Herald, the 33-year-old woman, from Clinton, was killed a year ago after she fell after stepping out a set of sliding glass doors on the second floor. The problem was that while the doors were supposed to open up to a balcony, that feature hadn’t yet been built. Nonetheless, the homeowner, who was hosting a holiday party, failed to block off those doors or take measures to stop people from opening the door or from walking outside.

Continue reading

The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently released a report that uncovered major holes in the state data collection on the financial abuse of seniors. This, investigators say, has made it all but impossible to accurately gauge the scope of a serious issue. The findings, including state-level data from Maine, were presented at the Senate Special Committee on Aging recently, with the goal of determining more effective ways to prevent, identify, and address instances of financial abuse and exploitation of seniors. The Committee Chairwoman is Susan Collins (R-Maine), an outspoken advocate on elder affairs and protection of the elderly.elder

Data collection on this issue is done at the state and local levels, so federal authorities up to this point haven’t had much influence. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to launch a data collection program that aims to help experts in curbing elderly exploitation. Even the information we do have suggests this is a major problem, with one 2015 study indicating the national annual financial loss from exploitation of elders is approximately $37 billion. Furthermore, these losses are occurring at a rate that study authors say is “alarming.” This newest GAO report, The Extent of Elder Abuse by Guardians is Unknown, but Some Measures Exist to Help Protect Older Adults, is the first time someone has looked closely at the issue of elder financial abuse since 2010, according to The Portland Press-Herald.

Although there is strong evidence to suggest that financial abuse of the elderly is most often perpetrated by adult children, nieces, nephews, and other relatives or guardians, exploitation by caretakers in nursing homes is another issue. It can be a direct indication of the facility’s failure to protect the resident, and it can also be a red flag that other forms of elder abuse are going on as well.

Continue reading

The Maine Department of Transportation recently released a report indicating the average traffic volume each day on Interstate 295 has spiked by 12 percent in the last six years. highway driving

As reported by the Portland Press-Herald, congestion on the already cramped highway has reached a point at which officials with the Maine State Police say they are encountering difficulties responding to traffic accidents and enforcing the laws of the road on that stretch.

Specifically, Lt. Walter Grzyb told the Press-Herald, cramped, bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement to respond to a crash or to stop violators for speeding or driving recklessly. In fact, when troopers or state police stop a motorist on the side of the road, they may in fact be creating more danger than they are fixing. Police say they can’t do their job safely.

Continue reading

The death of a 13-year-old boy, struck and killed in a crosswalk on his way to school in Lewiston, has devastated a community and raised important questions about the lack of pedestrian safety in Maine. crosswalk

Police say the eighth grader was crossing Main Street at Frye Street – in the crosswalk – when he was struck by a driver operating a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The driver of the vehicle, a 54-year-old woman, is reportedly cooperating with authorities. It is believed that after the initial impact, the truck dragged the young boy some distance up the street until the vehicle stopped and the driver discovered the child underneath. The incident occurred at around 7:10 a.m., as the boy was making his way to school.

According to the Maine Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Highway Safety, Cumberland County – including Portland – had by far the most pedestrian accidents of any county in the state over the last several years. Between 2008 and 2012, there were 408 pedestrian accidents in Cumberland County. Comparatively, there were 205 in York, 167 in Androscoggin, 169 in Penobscot, and 111 in Kennebec. In the last decade, there have been between nine and 14 pedestrian fatalities a year in Maine.

Continue reading

A Maine car accident resulted in injuries for a 38-year-old woman in Holton when she was rear-ended on I-95 by an unknown driver, sending her car careening off the road and into a cluster of trees. Her car was crushed by the impact of the collision, but the other driver never stopped – as required by Maine statute. The Bangor Daily News reports authorities later received a tip that a 28-year-old Texas man may have been involved, since his Ford F-350 with significant front end damage was being repaired at a local garage. He was reportedly not injured in the crash, and authorities located him at a local motel. They have charged him with leaving the scene of a crash involving a personal injury, driving to endanger, and operating with a suspended license. crashed car

Many people erroneously think that if you are struck in a hit-and-run accident, you can’t make a claim for a personal injury lawsuit because either the driver was never located, or the driver didn’t have any insurance. which is why they fled in the first place.

However, victims of hit-and-run crashes in Maine are not without options, as our experienced personal injury lawyers can explain. One of the best options for victims is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which allows car accident victims to pursue compensation from their own auto insurance company for injuries caused by an uninsured – or unidentified – at-fault driver. There is also underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which helps make up the difference when an at-fault driver’s auto insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of your damages.

Continue reading

Back injuries are the most common type of injury suffered on the job, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. What’s more, the Maine Department of Labor reports the problem is getting worse here in The Pine Tree State.worker

Federal analysis indicates that in 2014, there were approximately 200,000 cases in which workers missed at least one day of work because of a back injury. That’s out of 1.15 million total instances of missed time for occupational injuries.

Meanwhile, the Maine DOL reports injuries to the lumbar spine (the lower back) represented 14.3 percent of all work-related injuries. Compare this to 2009, when lower back injuries comprised 10.7 percent of all work injuries.

Continue reading

The federal agency in charge of overseeing more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funds has taken a stand against the commonplace practice of forcing victims of nursing home abuse into resolving disputes via arbitration, rather than in court.gavel

Increasingly, provisions buried in the fine print of nursing home admission contracts have required residents to resolve quality of care disputes within this private system – out of public view. Not only are these proceedings confidential, but also they consistently favor the nursing home. Even when damages are awarded to plaintiffs, they are usually much less than what one would typically receive in a judgement issued by the courts. Arbitrators are chosen by the nursing homes, and there is an incentive for them to resolve cases in a way that minimizes the financial impact to the facility.

This, of course, is inherently unfair, and advocates for years now have been calling for the federal government to step in and curtail such forced arbitration. Now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, has taken a major step in restoring a key right of millions of vulnerable, elderly Americans. The agency’s new rule, hailed as the most significant in decades, holds that any nursing home that gets federal funding can’t deny residents and families the right to have their day in court.

Continue reading

Drunk driving in Maine causes more wrongful deaths than any type of violent crime. In 2014, law enforcement officials reported 25 people died by homicide, while 50 died in drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s double. Impaired driving accounts for more than a third of all motor vehicle fatalities in this state. What’s more, the problem appears to be getting worse. The number of operating under the influence deaths in Maine spiked from 44 to 50 in a single year – an increase of nearly 14 percent. Many hundreds more are injured.beers

We saw it once again in the community of Strong, about 1.5 hours from Bangor. According to the Kennebec Journal, police are reporting a fiery, head-on collision that killed one driver, injured two passengers, and sent another motorist to a Farmington jail on an OUI charge – a class B felony for operating under the influence resulting in death.

The collision was reported at around 7:45 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, when authorities received a call about a traffic accident and possible entrapment on Lambert Hill Road. Authorities arrived to discover two pickup trucks that had collided head-on and were both in flames. The allegedly drunk driver, 24, managed to escape his vehicle, as did his two passengers, although they were injured. However, the driver and sole occupant of the other truck was not able to get out. Fire officials were only able to retrieve his body once they had extinguished the flames.

Continue reading