In Maine, individuals who suffered injuries or died in a car or other accident because of another’s fault, may be entitled to compensation for their damages and losses. However, even if the evidence suggests that the other party was at fault, each case presents unique circumstances that may affect liability and recovery. One of the most challenging situations is when the defendant experiences a medical emergency that leads to an accident.

Under Maine’s negligence laws, plaintiffs must establish that the at-fault party deviated from a reasonable person’s standard of care. A “reasonable person,” is one who exercises average care and judgment in their conduct. However, the law allows for flexibility, which is relevant to the affirmative “sudden emergency” defense. This doctrine applies in situations where the at-fault party experiences an unavoidable medical event or encounters an “Act of God”, that leads them to cause an accident.

For example, recently, a Maine news report described an accident involving a medical emergency. In that case, a driver experienced an undisclosed medical emergency when he crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic and off the road. The driver then slammed into a pedestrian. The pedestrian was taken to a hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. Although the case is still under investigation, police urge Mainers to engage in safe driving behaviors and refrain from operating their vehicle if they are ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

COVID-19 continues to cause medical, financial, and psychological stress on people throughout the United States. In addition to the general fear surrounding the virus, many people, including those residing in Maine nursing homes, face the pandemic’s continued threat. These vulnerable individuals are at risk for serious medical consequences if they contract the coronavirus. Although most nursing homes and assisted living facilities understand the heightened need for health and safety measures, these facilities continue to see a rise in cases and deaths.

Maine nursing homes whose staff do not possess the training, skills, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely care for the facility’s residents, can cause a widespread outbreak. Inadequate and defective equipment can have disastrous effects on staff, residents, and visitors. Although, the government provides a broad range of immunity to these facilities for lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine nursing home neglect and abuse victims must understand their rights and remedies.

For example, a national news source recently reported a troubling situation where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent inadequate PPE to nursing homes facing the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were benefactors of a widespread effort to provide medical professionals with PPE. However, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities reported that the shipments they received included questionable products. The facilities complained that the boxes included unmarked zip-top bags with loose gloves, defective surgical masks, and protective gowns without arm openings. FEMA claimed that although the equipment met regulatory guidelines, they would be contacting the private contractor to issue replacements.

With various stay-at-home and social-distancing measures in place because of COVID-19, many of our neighbors have been spending more time outdoors. Taking an evening or early morning stroll, biking, or running have been popular activities during this time. Of course, more people outdoors also means that motorists need to be more cautious of people crossing streets and in bike lanes. Pedestrians also need to be safe while having fun or enjoying fresh air outdoors, but sometimes Maine pedestrian accidents happen even when all safety precautions are taken.

Based on a report from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, pedestrian crashes and fatalities in the state have remained consistent over the years. Additionally, based on a recent article, Maine has seen a rise in the number of pedestrian deaths since 2019, leading state authorities to establishing more concrete action items toward eliminating motor vehicle-related fatalities.

In an effort to address this public safety issue, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has begun offering grants to law enforcement in communities in the state with higher occurrences of pedestrian crashes. State authorities tasked with addressing the issue have observed various causes for the increase in numbers. Some constituents have reported that motorists driving too fast, going over speed limits. Others have urged local authorities to re-evaluate current speed limits and potentially lower them because these limits have discouraged people from wanting to take a walk or ride a bike because of safety concerns.

After a Maine motor vehicle accident, injury victims are likely suffering physically, emotionally as well as financially. One way to ease this burden is to pursue a claim for damages through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, challenges arise when the responsible party fled the scene of the accident or failed to provide their identifying information. In these cases, Maine treats the accident as a hit and run. It is important that Maine hit and run injury victims contact an attorney to help them through these complicated situations.

There are many reasons that a motorist may leave the scene of an accident. However, it typically occurs if the driver was engaged in some illegal activity, such as driving without a license, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, hit and run motorists may want to avoid paying damages or being named in a lawsuit. In some rare cases, the driver may be experiencing a medical event or not realize that they hit another vehicle or person.

In any event, hit and run accidents often result in more serious injuries and leave victims in a challenging position. Once the responsible party flees the scene, they can be difficult to identify and locate. Police may investigate the accident scene, review video footage, and interview witnesses; however, this investigation may fall short in some cases. In contrast, attorneys often work with a team of investigators and forensic experts that can help in recreating the scene of the accident. These resources provide clients with a higher likelihood of success in resolving their cases.

Although Maine medical malpractice cases often stem from the negligence of a physician, nurse, or similar healthcare provider, a significant portion of these complaints are based on allegations of dental malpractice. Like every other medical profession, a dentist’s negligence in treatment may cause patients to suffer irreparable damage. As such, over 30,000 patients in the United States have filed complaints against dentists and oral surgeons over the last ten years.

Maine law requires dentists to provide care that meets or exceeds the standards of the dental profession. Dentists must appropriately communicate their treatment plans, acquire informed consent, engage in appropriate record keeping, and provide safe and effective treatment. When a dentist fails to meet this standard, they may be liable for the damages that a patient suffers.

The National Society of Dental Practitioners compiled a list of the most common causes of dental malpractice in the country. The majority of claims stem from a dentist or their office’s failure to return a fee after promising an unfulfilled result, failing to acquire informed consent, their inaccessibility to patients, failure to refer, diagnose or treat a condition, prescribing incorrect medication, or making treatment errors.

Amidst COVID-19 concerns, parents are trying to find engaging, stimulating, and safe ways to keep their children occupied during the summer. One of the most popular activities that children can continue to participate in during this challenging time is swimming. However, Maine swimming pool accidents are a frequent and tragic occurrence, and pool owners and parents must understand the risks and liability of this activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), swimming accidents are the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 to 4. New data by the CPSC indicates that there has been a steady increase in pool- or spa-related fatal accidents, with nearly 400 deaths last year. Residential pool accidents account for over 70% of these deadly accidents. Additionally, the data reveals that there have been almost 7,000 pool or spa-related emergency department nonfatal child drowning visits between 2017 and 2019.

Maine pool owners, caregivers, and parents should adhere to pool safety guidelines to prevent these types of accidents. Pool Safely, a national public education campaign, provides individuals with steps to reduce these incidences. The instructions advise parents to never leave a child unattended near or in the water. Parents should designate an adult watcher to vigilantly watch children while they are around water. These individuals should refrain from reading, using their phones, or engaging in potentially distracting activities. Pool owners should install fences and self-latching gates, and their pools should comply with all federal safety standards.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal from a summary judgment motion entered in favor of an insurance company. According to the court’s opinion, a man owned a truck that was insured by the defendant and he used it to transport an intoxicated and delusional friend. While transporting him, the man’s friend jumped out of the moving truck, broke into the plaintiff’s home, and damaged their windows and property. The plaintiffs suffered injuries while attempting to restrain the intoxicated man.

The insurance policy on the man’s truck provided coverage for “the ownership, maintenance, or use of” his vehicle. The contract allows coverage for bodily injury to others and property damage resulting from an accident involving the insured vehicle. In 2014, the plaintiffs served the truck owner with a negligence complaint. The basis of the negligence complaint was that the truck owner assisted his friend in becoming intoxicated, took him for a drive instead of calling authorities, and followed his friend’s direction, driving him directly to the plaintiffs’ home.

The owner did not respond to the complaint, and the court entered a default judgment against him. In 2015, his insurance company received the complaint and hired counsel to defend the claim. During a damages hearing, the court found that the owner and his friend were jointly and severally liable. The plaintiffs then sought to apply the truck owner’s insurance policy to their award. The insurance company successfully moved for summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the court inappropriately concluded that the damages were not caused by an accident that involved the car owner’s vehicle.

Losing a loved one in any type of accident is a tragedy that words cannot adequately describe. While nothing can bring back a loved one who was senselessly lost as the result of a preventable accident, family members may be able to ease the financial burden associated with such a loss through a Maine wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death claim is very similar to a traditional personal injury case in that the plaintiff, the deceased accident victim’s loved ones, must prove that the defendant was legally responsible for their loved one’s death. To prove a Maine wrongful death case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed their loved one a duty of care and that the defendant’s actions violated that duty. Additionally, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s violation of this duty was the legal and proximate cause of death. Wrongful death cases in Maine must be filed within two years of the accident victim’s death.

If a plaintiff is successful in a wrongful death claim, they can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the out-of-pocket expenses associated with the plaintiff’s loss, including medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages include “loss of comfort, society, and companionship of the deceased, including any damages for emotional distress.” Notably, non-economic damages are generally limited to $750,000. In some cases, punitive damages can be awarded. Punitive damages are intended to punish the exceptionally egregious behavior of the defendant and are capped at $250,000.

Recent video footage shows a troubling crash in which a Tesla car crashes into the top of an overturned truck laying on its side, according to one news article. The vehicle also failed to brake for the truck driver who was standing in the lane redirecting traffic. Thankfully, the truck driver jumped out of the way before he was struck. The driver of the Tesla stated that the car was in autopilot mode when the crash occurred. The driver did not manually brake until it was too late to avoid the collision. Those who are injured in a Maine car accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

Assuming that the autopilot was on, as it appeared, the footage raises questions of why the autopilot feature did not recognize a large obstacle in the road and why the car’s emergency braking system did not perceive the pedestrian. Even if autopilot was not on, the vehicle’s emergency braking and collision warning systems would not usually be off, unless it is manually disabled.

Although Tesla’s autopilot requires drivers to pay attention to the road at all times, it does not track their gaze, as some cars do. It is possible that the car failed to perceive the overturned truck because it was not used to seeing an overturned truck. But that does not explain why the vehicle failed to brake for the pedestrian. Tesla declined to comment on the article.

According to a recent news report, the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a spike of 71 cases of COVID-19 in the state. Approximately 57 of these new cases stem from an outbreak at a long-term care home in Cape Elizabeth. The facility primarily provides care and treatment to individuals who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. The director of the Maine CDC reported that the agency is working with the long-term care facility to address staffing concerns, infection control, and the cause of the outbreak. Moreover, the CDC provided the facility with additional personal protective gear and sanitizing materials.

The facility’s representative stated that they have complied with CDC guidance for over two months. The guidance includes control measures, visitor restrictions, and patient screening and healthcare worker screenings. They facility states that the first staff member to test positive passed a health screen just before her last shift. They are unsure whether the healthcare worker contracted the virus at the facility or introduced it into the center. One of the facility managers reported that on a Tuesday, no one at the facility exhibited symptoms, but by Thursday, half of the residents tested positive and were symptomatic. The majority of the positive staff were asymptomatic. Family members, many of whom are wishing to remain anonymous, are expressing concerns for their family members because they cannot accurately gauge how their family members are doing because of visitor restrictions.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the facility does not have a history of violations. However, it is clear that long-term care facilities and other Maine nursing homes should be engaging in additional measures to protect their residents, staff, and visitors. Even a slight deviation from the CDC’s guidelines can have a disastrous impact on residents’ lives and safety.

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