van drivingThe 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

wheelchairA 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

product liabilityHospital 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

distracted drivingAuthorities 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.

highwayNews 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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bus stopTwo families are suing a Maine town after their children were injured in a van crash on Interstate 95.

Both families are seeking financial damages for payment of medical bills, the Bangor Daily News reported. The crash happened as 11 summer campers were on their way to a waterpark on August 10. The van crashed into a tree after the 21-year-old driver had what authorities described as a “medical emergency.”

An attorney for the town of Kittery said injury lawyers on behalf of the victims filed a notice of right to sue and inquired about the town’s liability insurance policy. The Portland Press Herald reported the driver had a history of epilepsy and may have experienced a grand mal seizure. An internal review showed the town failed to check his driving record before he was hired.

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self drivingSelf-driving technology is coming to Portland, Maine’s largest city. With it, residents may see an uptick in Maine auto accidents.

A Washington State company called Inrix announced it plans to test its self-driving automotive technology on the streets of Portland.  Inrix is a global company that develops and deploys Internet services and mobile applications for road-traffic and driving uses. The software platform, called AV Road Rules, is intended to function as a guide for self-driving cars, by allowing vehicles to “see” road conditions such as one-way streets, crosswalks and school zones. Portland will focus initial mapping on Commercial Street and Franklin Street, heavily used transportation corridors into the Old Port and downtown Portland.

The complexities of today’s modern vehicles — from airbags to anti-lock brakes to early-warning systems and backup cameras, are already making an impact in the courtroom when it comes to personal injury and wrongful death litigation. A recent column in the Press Herald highlighted just a few of the questions being raised by such emerging technologies.

bicycle accidentStudents are heading back to class, which means it’s time for adults to brush up on their education when it comes to safe driving. Maine bicycle accidents can be unfortunately common, which can lead to serious injuries, particularly if the rider collides with a car.

Bangor School Department has announced schools will open Tuesday Sept. 4. School officials urge parents to start kids on their school sleep schedule now, so they will be properly adjusted for the first day of class. This can also help keep them safe while traveling to and from school. Portland Public Schools will also return to class Sept. 4.

The Bangor School Department also announced a partnership with the Bangor Police Department to put liaison officers in schools to work to ensure proper security and student safety. While parents may worry about bullying, school violence, or the rigors and risks of today’s school athletics, our experienced personal injury lawyers know the commute to and from school is most likely to be dangerous.

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The recent injury of a Sanford girl in a UTV accident highlights the risk of these and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as we head into autumn.Legal News Gavel

About 500 people a year are killed in ATV accidents, according to federal statistics, and more than 100,000 are injured seriously enough to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms. About 25 percent of victims are under 16 years of age. In all, nearly 15,000 riders have been fatally injured since ATVs became popular in the 1980s.

CBS13 reports hundreds participated in a Sanford fundraiser for the 8-year-old girl, who broke her neck and jaw and suffered numerous skull fractures after falling from her UTV. The local Maine ATV Club sponsored the event.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently granted partial summary judgment in a case against a Portland High School after a mother alleged her teenage son fell and struck his head while apparently tussling with an older boy at a school sporting event.Legal News Gavel

The court dismissed the claims against the older boy’s parents. The case against the defendant teen and the school district will proceed separately from this ruling.

The mother claimed the incident occurred at Cheverus High School in Portland, where a number of youths had been attending a sporting event. She filed an injury lawsuit against the school district, as well as the older boy and his parents, bringing counts for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendant parents requested summary judgment for both negligent infliction of emotional distress and causes of action under state negligence laws.

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