The Bangor Daily News reported one teen was killed and another seriously injured in a January sledding accident at a Maine ski resort.

Media reports indicate two teens were riding a sled down a ski trail at about 2 a.m. when they hit a tree, badly injuring one rider and killing the other teen. Both teens reportedly attended Portsmouth High School. An Oxford County sheriff’s deputy said the teens were riding a rubber tube on an expert level course. A resort spokesperson said the resort was closed at the time of the accident and does not allow sledding.

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The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reports sledding fatalities are rare. However, serious and fatal Maine ski accidents are not. The agency reported 33 catastrophic injuries at U.S. ski areas last year. With more than a dozen major ski resorts, Maine remains among the nation’s most active skiing destinations, according to the Ski Maine Association.

Our injury attorneys in Bangor and Portland have posted recently about the risks of driving in Maine’s harsh winter conditions, as well as the increased risk of slip-and-fall injuries. Children face even greater risk of injuries in both scenarios. winter street

The Associated Press has reported a six-year-old child was hospitalized after a Garland crash being blamed at least partly on bad weather, including low visibility and slushy roads. A Penobscot County sheriff’s deputy noted such conditions can make vehicles more prone to leaving the roadway, which increases the chances of serious injuries.

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety reports Maine motor vehicle collisions remain the number one cause of unintentional deaths of children under age 16. Poor driving conditions make it even more important that parents and caregivers are following Maine’s Child Passenger Safety (CPS) law.  Under the law, children who weigh less than 40 pounds must ride in a child safety seat. Those under age eight who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds must be in a federally approved child restraint system. The state also reminds parents that recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urge motorists to keep children ages 8-12 in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit properly in the lap belt.

Sad news was reported recently when an 88-year-old driver and his 82-year-old wife were killed after the husband lost control of their sport utility vehicle on a snow-covered road in Sanford, ME and collided head-on with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle he struck was not injured, although a passenger was taken to a nearby hospital to receive medical attention. Although The Bangor Daily News reports the car accident is still under investigation, authorities have been clear to say that snow and ice played a role in the collision.snowy road

As our Maine car accident attorneys can explain, no driver can control the weather, but that doesn’t mean the issue of liability is negated. That is because all motorists have a responsibility to drive their vehicles in a manner that is safe, considering the current road conditions.

As noted by the Maine Department of Transportation, that means first of all “maintaining a safe cushion,” or in other words giving yourself enough time to react if another driver ahead makes a mistake or if conditions suddenly change. The only way to do this is to keep enough space between your vehicle and those around you – particularly the vehicle ahead. When the roads are slippery (i.e., rainy, snowy, or icy), motorists need to give themselves even more time to slow or stop. That means maintaining a greater distance and also slowing down.

Recently, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) posted on her Facebook page that she had suffered a fractured ankle that required surgery after she suffered a slip-and-fall accident at her home. Although she didn’t realize any details about exactly how the fall occurred, she indicated the ankle was broken in two places, but the surgery was successful. icicles

Slip-and-fall accidents like the one Collins suffered are an increasing occurrence in Maine during the winter months, when accumulations of ice and snow make walkways and entrances especially hazardous.

Of course, brutally cold, icy, and snowy conditions are just a part of life here in Maine, which makes almost any way of traveling potentially dangerous. The state has gone so far in the past as to issue travel bans during blizzards, but those apply to motor vehicle traffic. Still, property owners owe a common law duty of care to keep their sites reasonably free from potentially slippery conditions for workers, customers, and other types of guests.

A man whose 53-year-old wife died in a Maine motorcycle accident in 2014 has settled his claims against the construction contractor in Augusta that allegedly failed to inspect and repair a dangerous pothole that reportedly caused his wife to lose control of her bike.center line

The plaintiff had been riding a motorcycle separately from his wife in Augusta when he watched her strike the pothole and saw the bike go down. The couple had married just six weeks earlier, and they were traveling with another pair to see a home in Manchester they were preparing to purchase. His original wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2015 in Kennebec County Superior Court, and it initially named not just the construction company but also the state, the state’s department of transportation, the city of Augusta, and a number of other defendants.

In the end, claims against all defendants other than the construction company were dismissed. This likely had to do with the fact that any claim against government agencies can be tough to prove, due to concepts like sovereign immunity and the difficulty of proving these entities owed a duty of care to the individual in question. But, as this case revealed, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no other avenues of compensation worth pursuing.

The Lewiston Sun-Journal is reporting that for the second year in a row, the federal government will be penalizing a Central Maine hospital for its failure to curb sky-high rates of patient injuries and infections. The sanctions are being handed out by Medicare, which funds a significant portion of patient care costs. The news doesn’t come as a complete shock, given that the hospital’s accrediting agency released a report weeks earlier saying the facility had failed to enact proper procedures necessary to curb hospital-acquired infections. The provider was given one month to fix this issue or risk losing its accreditation, which could result in even greater funding losses. hospital

The hospital president released a statement indicating the hospital is working hard to improve on these issues, rather than shy away from them, and it aims to provide a safe space for patients and employees alike.

While it’s positive that the organization appears to be taking responsibility for these shortcomings, our Maine medical malpractice attorneys wouldn’t expect such a forthcoming attitude should a lawsuit arise as a result of these lapses in the standard of care. Most facilities and individual practitioners vigorously fight back against allegations of wrongdoing leading to serious injury, illness, or death of patients. Having an experienced attorney to help navigate such claims is imperative, since they are often much more complex and contentious than many other types of personal injury claims.

The driver of a tractor-trailer packed with sawdust and wood chips narrowly escaped serious injury after he reportedly fell asleep, crossed the center line and slammed into a ditch on the opposite side of the road before the rig turned on its side. truck accident lawyer

The crash occurred on Route 150 in Athens. The 50-year-old trucker told responding authorities that he fell asleep while driving and then work up in a ditch. He was transported to a local hospital as a precaution, the Kennebec Journal reported, but was soon thereafter released. It’s fortunate no other motorists were on that particular stretch of road when the truck accident occurred, as these large vehicles have the potential to cause catastrophic and fatal injuries, especially if one were to hit a passenger vehicle head on in the opposing lane.

Drowsy driving is a major problem in the trucking industry, with the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, published annually by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, revealing 13 percent of all commercial motor vehicle drivers were deemed “fatigued” at the time of the collision. The FMCSA defines “fatigue” as exertion – either physical or mental – that results in impaired performance. Truck drivers are especially prone to fatigue because they often suffer from inadequate sleep, brutal work schedules and monotonous work.  Continue reading

For many, getting into the holiday spirit involves downing holiday spirits. Although most can responsibly enjoy the indulgence, it’s problematic when those who imbibe get behind the wheeldrunk driving accident lawyer

Last year, nearly 800 Americans died in drunk driving crashes just in December alone last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly one-third of the 37,500 people killed in car accidents in 2016 were involved in crashes were at least one driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

In Maine, there were almost 500 deaths caused by drunk drivers over a recent nine-year stretch. Approximately 1.2 percent of Maine drivers surveyed admitted to driving while too impaired to do so at least once in the last 30 days. The actual number is likely much higher, as these are only self-admitted cases. The Press Herald in Portland reported earlier this year that more than 16,000 drivers in Maine have had four or more OUI convictions since 1980. More than 80,000 drivers in Maine have more than one OUI conviction. Many of these instances happen around the holidays, when people are more likely to be attending parties and gatherings where alcohol is served. Having a plan for transportation before the festivities is the best way to avoid causing a drunk driving accident. Continue reading

Black ice on the roads was cited as a factor in a number of central Maine car accidents recently, though thankfully, no serious personal injuries were reported. In a single icy morning, the dispatch center for Kennebec County and Somerset County reported 85 reports of crashes and cars that had veered off the roadway. Calls started around 3:30 a.m., and within the hour, authorities on site were informing dispatch and other emergency responders about the perilous black ice that coated Interstate 95 and surrounding areas. One official was quoted as saying the interstate “looks like a skating rink.” Officials did choose to close the Messalonskee Bridge for a time after four crashes happened back-to-back, as reported by CentralMaine.com.car accident attorney

Although weather certainly can be a factor in any car accident, it’s important to point out that even the worst road conditions do not relieve motorists of their duty of care to use reasonable caution in their operation of a motor vehicle. That means exercising constant vigilance when conditions are right for hazards like black ice. It means slowing to a safer speed and avoiding distractions and maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles ahead of you. Failure to do so can be grounds to assert negligence when it results in a collision.

What is Black Ice?

As part of a $120 million settlement with General Motors Co. for concealing safety issues related to vehicle defects, Maine is slated to receive $1.1 million in compensation. It stems from a settlement reached between the Michigan-based auto manufacturer and attorneys general from 49 states plus the District of Colombia.injury lawyer

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills released a statement characterizing the deception as creating a dangerous situation for the public. It stemmed from information that came to light following seven vehicle recall from GM affecting more than 9 million vehicles that reportedly had defective ignition switches that had the potential to cause a loss of electrical power to the vehicle, affecting power brakes and power steering. There were also reports that airbags could fail to deploy in the event of a Maine car accident. The recalls in and of themselves weren’t the issue, but rather that some GM insiders were aware of these safety problems for at least a decade before the recalls were issued. Furthermore, the company continued to market the vehicles as reliable and safe. These actions, Mills office indicated, ran afoul of Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The more than $1 million of that settlement slated for Maine will go into a consumer trust account. There is still a class action lawsuit pending that involves several people who allegedly suffered personal injuries and wrongful death as a result of these dangerous vehicle defects, The Press Herald reports.

Although most car accident lawsuits in Maine involve the negligence of other drivers, injury lawyers cannot overlook the possibility of automobile defects, given the fact that the number of vehicle recalls has reached record rates in recent years. Reuters reported U.S. auto recalls in 2016 affected a record 53.2 million vehicles, in large part due to defective Takata airbag inflaters. Last year topped the previous record, set in 2015, of auto recalls affecting 51.2 million vehicles. Continue reading

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