Last year, officials reported record-breaking traffic on New England roads over the Thanksgiving holiday. More than 2.2 million people in this region make a turkey day trek more than 50 miles, representing a 3.5 percent increase over a year ago and the biggest boost in volume since 2005. It’s not clear exactly how many of those were in rented vehicles, but we know it’s common. There was also an uptick in air travel, with some 36,000 people flying out of Portland International Jetport, many opting for rental vehicles while in town.  Nationally, it’s estimated some 51 million people traveled over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period from Wednesday through Sunday (with Wednesday being the busiest day).

Maine car accident attorneys in Bangor know that when a collision involves a rented vehicle, there may be some unique elements to consider with regard to auto insurance and liability coverage.

Prior to 2005, victims of car accidents could take legal action against rental car companies, holding them liable for the negligent actions of the person driving a vehicle owned by the rental company. This falls under a special type of law called “vicarious liability,” meaning it’s not necessary to show the person you’re suing for injuries directly did anything wrong. Rather, motor vehicles are inherently dangerous and so the owner was responsible for negligent use of that dangerous tool by someone else if the owner gave that person permission.

But then Congress passed the Graves Amendment, part of a larger federal transportation bill, which largely released rental car companies from liability when a renter crashes a car. However, that does not mean they are entirely off-the-hook. They can still be held liable for direct negligence. For example, if a causal factor in the crash was worn tire tread, that could be the fault of the rental car company. If the brakes were old or the car hadn’t been maintained, that could be evidence of direct negligence by the rental car company.  Continue reading

Horse injury lawsuits in Maine have been an uphill battle ever since a 1999 change to the state’s equine liability law. M.R.S.A. Title 7, Part 9, ch.743 s.4103-A on Liability for Equine Activities limits the liability of any horse activity sponsor, professional or anyone else engaged in equine activity for personal injury or death of participants or spectators that result from inherent risks of such activities – other than specific statutory exceptions. It’s incumbent on participants to be responsible for knowing their own limits in managing, caring for or controlling a horse, and they’re responsible for heeding all warnings and must refrain from doing anything that might cause or contribute to an injury.

Still, as noted in a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Maine, “There does not appear to be any legislative history to suggest that the current version of the Maine Equine Activities Act, which was amended in 1999, was meant to repudiate any possibility of a negligence action arising in the context of equine activities.” In other words, just because Maine injury lawsuits filed as a result of horse-related activities are now more difficult, it does not mean the possibility of prevailing is altogether eliminated. An experienced Bangor injury lawyer should be able to further discuss your legal rights.

Recently, the Bangor Daily News reported on a Maine injury lawsuit filed by parents of a New York girl against a farm in Maine, accused of negligence in running a horse-riding tour that during a 2016 visit caused the girl to be thrown from a horse. She suffered a broken skull and spine. It was the girl’s first time riding a horse. The family alleges medical bills have exceeded $680,000 and she continues to suffer physical and mental impact. Continue reading

Learning good sportsmanship is one of the primary purposes of youth sports. Yet all over the country – and right here in Maine – serious injuries are reported when parents, players, coaches and fans engage in violence both on and off the field.

Our Portland injury lawyers just recently read about a girls soccer field punch during a playoff game at Lisbon High School, a half hour outside Portland. A video clip (viewed more than 73,000 times on social media before it was removed) shows one player swinging at an opposing player after a scored goal. Later in the game, the clip shows that same player attack again, punching the same girl in the face. The victim fell as she tried to dodge the punch and apparently wasn’t seriously hurt, according to the Portland Press Herald. The video is being reviewed by school officials and no criminal charges have been filed. Less than a week later, the Press Herald reported yet another violent attack at a youth sports game, this time at Scarborough High School, where a 20-year-old resident allegedly stabbed a 15-year-old student in the parking lot during a soccer game half-time.

As Maine injury lawyers know, there may be few remedies available for youth sports players who suffer certain injuries in the course of the game. Depending on the nature of the sport, those injuries may be considered the inherent risk one assumes in playing. (Not always, though, so it’s best to at least discuss your rights with an attorney.) However, when an assault or battery occurs at a sporting event, either among fans or between players or even parents, coaches or referees, parties may be found liable under either negligence or intentional tort law. Continue reading

The town of Kittery is now facing nearly half a dozen Maine injury lawsuits following a van crash in which nearly a dozen children, ages 7 to 9, were injured when the driver, employed by the town, crashed due to a medical emergency. Plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages for medical expenses incurred in the weeks following the crash.

Injuries included a fractured leg, head injuries, facial scarring and emotional trauma. According to The Portland Press-Herald, the driver, 21, did have a commercial license, but had disclosed in a previous court case (which was public record) that he suffered from epilepsy and seizures, and he also had an extended history of previous criminal driving infractions. An internal review by the town revealed officials there did not check the man’s prior driving record before he was hired.

This case raises a number of legal issues, some of which, like the sudden emergency doctrine, we touched on previously. However, it also raises the common issue in Maine crash case which is one of respondeat superior, or employer liability for employee negligence.

The house fire death of a patient who had been discharged from a hospital the previous night was the subject of a Maine medical malpractice lawsuit recently before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. There was no question the man’s death did not occur while he was on hospital property or under care of medical staffers. The issue was whether the hospital and other defendants were negligent in discharging the patient, whom plaintiffs asserted lacked the capacity to offer informed consent to that discharge.

In Oliver v. Eastern Maine Medical Center, the state high court affirmed the conclusion of the Superior Court, which found the hospital was not negligent in the discharge, despite the fact it was contrary to instructions given by patient’s children as his court-appointed guardians. The question became whether the patient was mentally fit to authorize his own discharge from the hospital.

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The families of Maine children injured in a van crash across state lines on I-95 in New Hampshire have filed notice they intend to sue a town government for negligence to recover compensation. Although this case has been filed outside of the state, it’s worth discussing because not only does it involve residents of this state, van crashes are not isolated incidents, and nor is the failure of employers to properly vet employee drivers (as is alleged to be the case here). If you have questions about a vehicle accident, reach out to a Maine personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

According to the Portland Press Herald, eleven summer campers were aboard the passenger van owned by the town, operated by a town employee and headed to Candia Springs Adventure Park in mid-August when the driver crashed into a large tree alongside the highway. Several of the children, ages 7 to 9, were injured and transported to a children’s hospital for treatment. They were ultimately released. Traffic investigators say the driver, a 21-year-old, suffered a medical emergency just before the wreck. Police investigators haven’t elaborated, but journalists reported the driver disclosed in a prior unrelated court case that he suffers from epilepsy and had experienced grand mal seizures in the past. He also had a long history of previous traffic violations as well as a long criminal record.  Continue reading

A worker who suffered a drug overdose on the job is suing his former employer, alleging his co-workers committed gross negligence by failing to call 911 and instead placing him in a cold shower. Bangor Daily News reports the 30-year-old man is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to care for himself.

The case is unique in the fact that in most Maine work injury cases seeking coverage of medical bills and lost wages from an employer, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy, as explained in the general provisions of 39-A M.R.S.A. §104. The law says an employer is exempt from civil action for either negligence or intentional conduct resulting in an employee’s injury or death, and also that a fellow employee is exempt from a Maine injury lawsuit arising out of the course of employment.

As a no-fault system, the employee is not required to prove negligence and the employer loses the right to assert most common-law defenses that would ordinarily address an injury lawsuit. The worker does need to show he or she was acting in the course and scope of employment. Although employees can (and should, if available) assert third-party liability claims against non-employer defendants whose negligence caused or contributed to their injuries, it’s very rare for an employee to succeed in a negligence lawsuit against an employer for injuries sustained in the course and scope of employment. This doesn’t apply to independent contractor workers, only those who meet the definition of “employee.”  Continue reading

Hospital emergency room doctors in Maine and throughout the country are once again seeking a ban on infant walkers, saying that as an “inherently dangerous object” these walkers have no benefits to young children and should never be sold in the U.S. Spurring this renewed call is a new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, revealing that 2,000 babies and toddlers every year are treated at hospital emergency rooms in infant walker accidents – often with serious and life-altering injuries like skull fractures, broken bones and concussions. Between 1990 and 2014, there were reportedly more than 230,000 injurious infant walker accidents among children under 15 months who were treated in hospital emergency departments.

As Bangor child injury attorneys may note, these types of cases would be based on the laws of product liability. Depending on the circumstances, one could allege defect in design, manufacturing and/or marketing/breach of warranty. When products are sold in the U.S., consumers are given an implied and often express assurance that they are safe when used as intended. This is especially true for products used by infants and children. Maine Title 14 S221, state law on defective or unreasonably dangerous goods, states that anyone who sells goods or products in defective condition or that are unreasonably dangerous to the user can be held liable for resulting injuries. Defendants can include the manufacturer, seller or supplier.

In instances wherein products prove unsafe, resulting in injury, it’s important to discuss legal options with an attorney or law firm with experience in handling Maine product liability lawsuits. Breach of express or implied warranty is often the grounds on which product liability plaintiffs present their case. Depending on where the incident occurred and who was caring for the child, there may also be claims of premises liability and negligent supervision (for example, against a daycare). Accountability is important for parents of young children injured in these preventable incidents.  Continue reading

Authorities say charges are likely in a Maine distracted driving crash that inflicted life-threatening injuries on a pregnant woman and her young child. Two other young children in the vehicle were treated at a hospital and released. The 29-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son were listed in critical condition initially, and later in stable/fair condition. It is not clear whether the woman’s unborn child survived.

The Portland Press Herald reports that police in Fryeburg are continuing their investigation of the collision on Route 302, which the police chief told media was likely caused by distracted driving. It’s unclear what type of distraction was allegedly at issue.

Portland distracted driving accident attorneys recognize that these types of crashes devastate individuals and families, not just physically and emotionally, but financially. Although this may be easier to quantify in the form of lost wages if a person is a working parent, even stay-at-home parents provide invaluable contributions to their families, who may suddenly not only be forced to find alternative means of child care and new living arrangements but also often more work to cover the significant costs involved with hospitalization, serious injury or death.

News Center Maine is reporting that new federal car-seat guidelines are aimed at saving lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated guidelines now urge parents to leave their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible.

AAP reports using the correct car seat or booster seat can decrease risk of death or serious injury by 70 percent in the event of a collision. Previous guidelines recommended keeping children in a rear-facing seat until the age of 2. But newer, stronger car seats and continuing data on their effectiveness at reducing child mortality, prompted safety advocates to abolish the age limit.

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