Bangor personal injury lawsuits don’t typically stem from high school dramas. However with an increased awareness of bullying and a number of school districts embracing “zero tolerance” policies, the question becomes to what extent is a school responsible for a student-on-student attack? What preventative action should be considered “reasonable”?

Two high school students in Maine didn’t like each other. They started exchanging texts that insulted one another. It ended in a physical confrontation into which the older brother of one teen inserted himself, resulting in a head injury to the other student. This led to more than 200 students of the school engaging in a walk-out and rally – in support of the teen whose older brother carried out the assault. Although the older brother faced criminal charges, the Bangor Daily News reported he’d been defending his brother from being bullied for his sexuality. But questions still remain about exactly who was bullying whom.

The parents of the student who suffered a head injury are suing the school district as well as the parents of the other teen and his older brother. In that lawsuit, plaintiffs allege their son, who had special protected status as a result of a disability  (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety) was not granted the occasionally necessary “quiet space” to help him ward off anxiety attacks. His parents had also requested other changes to his education plan in light of fear to address the “growing concerns for his physical safety.” Since middle school, he’d purportedly been the subject of taunts from the other student (who identified as homosexual) on the basis of his perceived non-conformance with certain gender stereotypes and norms. The two started exchanging text messages and other students joined in, with much of it being offensive.  Continue reading

Drunk driving in Maine isn’t limited to any one night, but the night of the Super Bowl is known as one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. The festivities this year led to a Maine drunk driving crash in York. A 29-year-old man was arrested for operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, according to The Bangor Daily News. The incident, in which the driver crashed into three parked cars along Route 1, occurred soon after the Super Bowl ended.

An analysis conducted by Scram Systems (a personal alcohol-monitoring device) found that drunk driving violations by repeat drunk drivers who are court-ordered to stay sober spikes an average of 22 percent on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to typical Sunday violation rates. This was based on data analysis from 530,000 DUI offenders who are on probation or parole and court-ordered to wear the alcohol monitoring bracelets, usually on their ankles.

Violations reportedly spiked the last 9 of 11 Super Bowl Sundays. Not all areas were equally problematic, though. For example, when the Patriots played in 2015, drinking violations in New England soared to two times higher than the rest of the country and more than 100 percent higher than a usual Sunday for that given region. And when the Denver Broncos were in the Super Bowl, Colorado offenders, who comprise 4 percent of the monitored populations, were responsible for 13 percent of the violations on game day. The analysis further discovered it seems as if the winners tend to drink more than the losers. On average, violations among offenders who represented the champions’ fans were approximately 75 percent higher than those whose residences were home to the losing team. Continue reading

Concert season is warming up, and it’s a good time to point out that festival and concert injuries can sometimes be compensated via Maine premises liability claims, which assert negligence by venue owner, promoters and sometimes even the entertainers themselves. Portland injury attorneys in Maine know that while most people go to concerts for a good time, it can unfortunately end badly when patrons are injured.

One such incident in Maine occurred last October, when a Portland concertgoer was injured at State Theatre during a show by Dirty Heads. Authorities confirmed the victim was stabbed and 2,000 people inside were evacuated. The theater has a “No Weapons Allowed” policy, so it’s unclear how someone was able to smuggle a knife inside.

Maine injury attorneys know many times what contributes to concert injuries and festival injuries is the combination of large crowds in a tight space, an atmosphere that is emotionally-charged, performers pushing the limits to ever-more-risky displays to wow crowds and the common presence of drugs and alcohol. There have also been issues with unstable pavilions and railings, inadequate security, etc. Not all injuries that occur at concerts will necessarily result in a valid personal injury claim. For a person who is injured while engaging in an activity they know to be risky (like diving in a mosh pit), it may be difficult to prevail in making a claim, unless the venue or promoters have had ongoing problems with such injuries and fail to take reasonable action to mitigate the risks.  Continue reading

After Maine traffic homicide investigators concluded that a 25-year-old set off a chain reaction motorcycle accident which turned deadly during an I-95 charity ride in September, two other riders are suing his estate for personal injury damages. The collision occurred in 2017, during an annual charity ride to collect Christmas toys for children throughout the state.

Our Maine motorcycle accident attorneys know that while group motorcycle rides can be fun and have commendable goals, they also seem to be more prone to these type of collisions. Chain reaction crashes usually occur when a cluster of vehicles are traveling too close together. When motorcyclists are riding in a group, the riders try to stick together. Primarily this is done for the social advantage, the feeling of solidarity, purpose and camaraderie. There might also be some advantages safety-wise to sticking together; too many drivers don’t look twice for motorcyclists in their blind spots, but a group of riders rumbling together down the road is harder to miss.

However, riders packed closely together are at risk of causing a chain reaction motorcycle crash that might harm fellow riders. Making matters more complicated is that it can often be difficult to parse who the at-fault party is or, if there are multiple parties, how much fault to assign each person.

After a 30-year-old roof worker fell to his death on a job site in Portland, local media began digging into his employer’s past with work safety violations. The Portland Press Herald reported that the roofing and window installation firm had been slapped with repeated fines for failing to protect workers from job site perils that put them at risk for serious injury and death. Portland workers’ compensation attorneys know that while this won’t necessarily give rise to an additional compensation for the man’s surviving family (who will likely already be entitled to Maine workers’ compensation death benefits), it may expose the company to additional fines.

In the last seven years, the company has been ordered to pay nearly $45,000 for not meeting fall protection safety criteria as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is now launching another investigation into the worker’s fall-related death. The incident occurred at a three-family home on Congress Street, where the worker reportedly fell from the third story. Safety records indicate federal safety regulators fined the company twice during inspections in 2012 – once for not providing adequate fall arrest systems for workers on a low-sloped roof and again for lack of guardrail systems or safety nets for workers on steep roofs. Then in 2015, federal inspectors said the company had not met the minimum fall safety standards for workers toiling 6 feet or more above the ground, requiring that if workers don’t have a personal fall arrest system, the site needs to be equipped with guardrails, netting or safety harnesses. Then last year, the company was found to be in violation of another worker safety standard requiring ladders extending beyond three feet to be secured safely to the ground. That violation, which is still pending, resulted in an OSHA-recommended fine of nearly $25,000.

In a 13-month period ending March 2018, eight people have died on Maine job sites. One of those in October 2017 involved a worker who fell from a roof when it collapsed. The worker fell to the ground, suffering a neck injury.

Maine hospitals, nursing homes and other care providers are struggling to staff enough nurses to provide quality care to patients – something our Portland, Maine medical malpractice lawyers have seen lead to serious and even fatal medical errors. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that facilities with high patient-to-nurse ratios had higher risk-adjusted patient death and failure-to-rescue rates than those who had more nurses. Nurses who worked at poorly-staffed facilities were more likely to experience burnout, fatigue and job dissatisfaction, which also increased the number of medical errors they were prone to make.

Maine Health Care Facilities Seek Solutions to Nursing Shortage That Threatens Poor Medical Care

Recently, the Portland Press Herald reported a number of hospitals in Maine are getting creative with recruitment efforts, using staffing agencies to draw nurses from overseas, including countries like Jamaica, Nigeria and Ireland. Within the Eastern Maine Healthcare System (more recently changed to Northern Light Health) more than a dozen international nurses have been hired. More than two dozen are still working on a contract basis through a nurse staffing agency, and there is the possibility they’ll be hired by the hospital system after about two years. A dozen more are set to arrive in Maine in the coming months.

Meanwhile, other hospitals are hiring student nurses, giving them a job inside the hospital so they can “earn while you learn,” the idea being they’re more likely to stay in school and complete their degrees if they can earn a living while they’re completing their studies. Summer internships at Maine General, meanwhile, pay student nurses to shadow those working in nursing homes, cancer care units and surgical centers so they are exposed to a wide range of specialties within their field. The same facility allows nurses time to take on quality improvement projects, such as tackling a unit’s problem with patient falls or bedsores, paying them $3,500 to $5,000 upon completion.

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A 57-year-old man died just two miles from home in a Maine snowmobile accident after striking a snow drift and suffering ejection. Authorities are investigating the deadly snowmobile crash, and unfortunately bracing for more, as the state’s 14,000 snow trails have been busy in recent weeks. With 800,000 registered snowmobiles in the state, this $300 million-a-year industry in Maine is popular, but rife with hazards. Many Maine snowmobile registrations are held by those who don’t reside here, but come solely to ride. (No trail passes are required, but all residents and non-residents must register for ride permission.)

One study published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research revealed there are an estimated 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries a year attributed to snowmobile accidents, with excess speed, alcohol, driver inexperience and poor judgment the leading causes indicated.

In the experience of our Maine snowmobile injury lawyers, the biggest factor in deadly snowmobile accidents has been speed. These 660-pound vehicles can reach top speeds of 100 mph, and too often, riders push those limits. Perhaps part of the problem is Maine has no designated speed limit for those on snowmobiles.

New Year’s Eve signals the end of a year, but too often and for too many on Maine roads, it signals the end of life. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, nearly half of motor vehicle fatalities are attributed to alcohol-impaired drivers, compared to the annual average, which is about 30 percent. That’s according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) – and it doesn’t include the number who survive, but may suffer permanent, disabling injury. Our Portland drunk driving injury attorneys encourage all drivers to be safe and sober this holiday, especially given our state ranks No. 9 for the most drunk driving deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

Complicating matters this year is the fact voters in 2016 approved legalized recreational marijuana sales (now codified in IB 2015, c. 5). Although implementation of the law has moved at a snail’s pace and there is no business yet approved to sell the drug commercially if it’s not for medicinal use, it is legal for one adult to give it to another. (Some marijuana dispensaries in Portland and elsewhere in Maine have used this loophole to “give” away marijuana, yet charge a delivery fee – the legality of which under state law is questionable, as reported by WGME 13.) The bottom line is that more people in Maine – and thus more drivers – may be under the influence of marijuana.

One recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found traffic accidents have risen about 6 percent in states that have legalized recreational marijuana compared to neighboring states that still outlaw the drug. Random roadside tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that about 22 percent of motorists showed evidence of drug use. In Washington state (which, along with Maine, is one of eight that has legalized recreational marijuana), one-fourth of all traffic deaths in 2016 involved drivers who mixed drugs and alcohol – most commonly alcohol with marijuana, the latter of which is known to slow driver reaction times, impair visual perception and blunt cognitive judgment.

The Portland Press Herald recently published a report regarding a new smartphone app that allows users to bypass legal services and file a civil lawsuit with just a few clicks. A quick, “Swipe right to sue” allows for claims of up to $25,000. One might expect any long-time Maine injury lawyer to express objections. However, the problem is less that lawyers aren’t being paid for legal services and far more that Maine injury claimants may not obtain the compensation they deserve.

If you’re injured in a car accident or hurt by use of a defective product, it’s important to recognize that a smartphone app – no matter how smart – is not going to provide you with the personal and professionalized service of an experienced injury attorney. Perhaps there is an argument to be made about using it for a minor traffic ticket. However, if you’re injured – or even think you may be – you may be cheating yourself by not at least making sure your case isn’t worth more than you initially assume.

For example, the app asks users, “How much do you want to sue for?” giving consumers the option of deciding how much their injury claim is worth. This is problematic because this is actually a very complex question – one that shouldn’t be answered with a mere guess. There is extensive time and research that goes into consideration of how much a Maine injury claim is worth. There is no place to indicate whether the damages you’re claiming are compensatory (identifiable and concrete damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.), general damages (including pain and suffering, future income losses and future medical care) or punitive (limited in application, but significant and intended to penalize egregious negligence by a defendant). Continue reading

Data released from the Maine Medical Research Center indicates Lyme disease in Maine may be dropping off a bit due to hot, dry weather over the summer. However, this comes, as our Portland medical malpractice attorneys know, after a record-breaking 1,852 cases for the year in 2017. So far this year, 1,069 cases were reported, according to health officials.

Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease remains a cause of substantial consequence. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks, can be cured if treated very aggressively, particularly with early intervention. The hot, dry summers have resulted in lower numbers of ticks this year, which is good news. Unfortunately, people who are misdiagnosed for years suffer extensive health problems – up to and including death. Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease or delayed diagnosis denies a person critical medical intervention necessary to effectively fight the disease.

Misdiagnosis, or an overlooked diagnosis in general, is the most common type of medical malpractice in Maine. It’s important to point out that failure to diagnosis may not in and of itself be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is when this failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis results in delayed treatment, improper medical care or no treatment at all – something that worsens a patient’s medical condition and prognosis – that can make such action (or inaction) potentially worth pursuing a Maine medical malpractice lawsuit. Continue reading

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