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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A mother and her three-year-old son lost their lives recently in New Portland after the mother failed to stop at a traffic sign and was struck by a school bus, officials say.

The 36-year-old mother and her young child were pronounced dead at the scene at an intersection on U.S. Route 2, shortly before 10 p.m. The bus was carrying a large group of students back from an earlier function. The students aboard the bus, while shaken, were not injured. Authorities were still investigating details, including possible contributing factors. Investigators say all they know for sure is the driver failed to stop at the stop sign. The intersection reportedly isn’t one known for crashes, and the speed limit is 55 mph, according to the Portland Press-Herald.school bus

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released figures from a decades-long analysis of school bus and school transportation-related crashes nationally. What they discovered was that from 2006 to 2015, there were 1,172 school transportation-related accidents. That amounts to 0.4 percent of the total fatal crashes, which numbered nearly 325,000.

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Last summer, a 14-year-old boy from Berwick and his 16-year-old sister were passengers in the back seat of their father’s vehicle. They were headed for a camping trip for Father’s Day. Suddenly, while on a highway in Hampton, NH, another driver rear-ended them. The impact was severe. The driver had been distracted. brain injury

The girl suffered serious head and neck injuries, and the boy suffered severe head injuries. Doctors told the children’s mother he “wasn’t hopeful.” The boy had to undergo an emergency craniectomy, removing part of his skull to relieve the swelling. The teen who struck them, meanwhile, was charged with following too closely. He told WCSH-6 recently that he thinks about the crash every day, wishing he could go back and make different choices. He was just a kid, he said, and it was all a “complete accident.”

That doesn’t change the fact that the 14-year-old he hit is now in a state described as “minimally conscious.” He is unable to walk, talk, or eat on his own. No one is able to say when he will recover or if he will ever recover. All of his hopes and dreams and aspirations are, in all likelihood, dashed because someone took a moment to look at their radio. He now requires nurses, home health aides, and physical therapists. He is unable to communicate.

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A judge has ordered a Maine man who crashed his vehicle in New Hampshire while high on heroin last summer to undergo a three-month drug rehabilitation program.heroin

Newburyport News reports the 24-year-old was removed from his smoking vehicle by a retired firefighter who happened to pass by after he had crashed into a cluster of trees. The driver suddenly awoke and told the good Samaritan he was fine, but the retired firefighter believed otherwise and summoned help. First responders found the man unconscious and not breathing so they administered an anti-opioid drug called Narcan to the driver. After he was stabilized, he was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The story highlights what has been a growing problem nationally not just for health care providers and law enforcement, but for those who share the road with people under the influence. USA Today reported last year on federal data pointing to an alarming uptick in the percentage of traffic deaths attributed to drivers who tested positive for drugs over the last 10 years. There has been an overall upward trend in traffic fatalities in recent years, but the fact that the percentage of drivers testing positive for illicit and prescription drugs has increased points to this being a substantial part of the problem.  Continue reading

A recent spate of Maine snowmobile accidents have safety officials concerned. snowmobile

One tragic example was seen recently in Parlin Pond Township, where NBC-6 in Portland reports a 45-year-old Massachusetts woman was killed after running into a line of trees. At the time, she was leading a group of snowmobilers across an icy pond when she drifted to the left side and into the trees. Witnesses said she was thrown off the sled and landed head-first on the trail. Those who had been following her rushed to her aid and first responders arrived in minutes. Sadly, her injuries proved too severe and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She had been wearing a helmet, but authorities say speed may have been a factor.

That crash was one of several that happened just the first weekend of this month. Maine Game Wardens say there are a number of factors at play, including worsening trail conditions. Melting snowpack has led to exposed stumps, rocks and ice that can be treacherous for snowmobilers. That incident was the ninth death of a snowmobiler this season, the Game Wardens say.  Continue reading