An increasing number of motorists are driving without insurance, according to an article published this month in the Insurance Journal.

Nationwide, the Insurance Research Council estimates 13 percent of all U.S. motorists were uninsured in 2015, up slightly from 2010 following a number of years of decline. Maine reported about 5 percent of all motorists are on the road without insurance, which put it ahead of other states. But motorists in Maine still remain at substantial risk of uninsured motorist accidents — in part because poor driving records have often left such motorists without either a driver’s license or liability insurance. driving

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Maine

The Press Herald is reporting a 58-year-old pedestrian was killed by a city-owned truck in an accident that occurred on Congress Street shortly before 4 a.m. A dump truck driven by a 49-year-old city employee was carrying a load of snow near the Maine Turnpike overpass when it struck the victim, according to the Portland Police Department.snow plow This is one of several snow-related mishaps to make news recently — our injury attorneys in Portland recently blogged about several fatal accidents involving snowmobiles and Maine ski resorts.

Maine pedestrian accidents are a growing concern in urban areas. In this case, the victim’s family may look to either the city or their own auto insurance policy to make a recovery if the victim carried uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

The involvement of a city employee will complicate the victim’s family’s ability to make a recovery. A law firm with significant experience handling cases against municipalities and school boards should always be consulted as soon as possible after a serious or fatal accident involving a government entity.

Our Maine slip and fall lawyers have blogged recently about many winter accident risks, including numerous accidents blamed on black ice. But it’s our elderly residents who are at highest risk of injuries due to dangerous property conditions, particularly fall accidents.

wet floor
It’s a growing concern in a state increasingly relying upon home care to address the massive increase in elderly residents in the coming years with the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. A proposal for universal home care recently received enough signatures to make it onto the ballot in Maine. If passed, it would pay for hiring a home health worker to care for an elderly or disabled loved one whose relatives work full time.

The Press Herald recently reported Maine lawmakers in Augusta are considering similar legislation. The proposal would increase taxes on high-earners in Maine to raise $310 million a year to pay for the so-called “universal home care.”

The Maine Department of Transportation is releasing a new Strategic Highway Safety Plan in response to an increasing number of traffic fatalities.

MDOT reports about 33,000 Maine car crashes a year with about 150 traffic deaths. The improving economy and low gas prices were both cited as factors in the increase. Still, motorists are urged to do their part.snowy highway

“Crashes are not accidents,” said Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart.

A rash of fatal snowmobile accidents this month has authorities preaching caution through the remainder of the riding season.

The most recent incident claimed the lives of a father and son in Hermon. The Maine Warden Service says a 33-year-old man and his 10-year-old son were killed in a crash about 1 a.m. after their snowmobile collided with a tree at the edge of a field. Authorities also reported the death of a 53-year-old man in a separate incident. Speed is being cited as a contributing factor in both accidents.snowmobile

As we recently reported, Title 14 Part 1 Chapter 7 159-A provides added protection for many landowners. The law limits liability for recreational activities by limiting a property owner’s duty of care for permissive uses. Essentially, what this means is if a farmer or other landowner permits recreational activity on owned land, the landowner does not owe visitors a higher duty of care as a customer or invited guest, which would otherwise be owed under Maine premises liability laws.

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.

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 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.

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