According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 633 people died in drowsy-driving crashes in 2020. The NHTSA attributes diminished work-life balance because of a more technologically advanced and connected world to low sleep quality, which is a factor in many fatigued driving incidents. Although the NHTSA acknowledges that fatigued driving is a problem, determining a precise number of crashes and injuries from fatigued driving is difficult, and crash investigators cannot always directly identify an accident caused by a drowsy driver. Fatigued driving crashes are often single-driver crashes that occur when people experience dips in their circadian rhythm late at night and in the late afternoon. But NHTSA acknowledges that sleepiness can cause crashes at any time and in myriad ways, including in ways that injure other drivers, as evidenced by one recent accident.

According to a recent article, three people were injured in a crash in Fairfield, Maine. Both drivers in the two-car crash and a passenger were taken to the hospital but have since been released. A 36-year-old man drove across the center line at around 9 p.m., hitting a 68-year-old man driving a truck and his passenger. Police are still investigating the crash but say driver fatigue is a possible factor.

Alert Driving Tips

Everyone has a duty to drive safely on the roads we share. While it can be easy to be angry at fatigued drivers, there’s a good chance everyone has been in a situation where they should not have been behind the wheel at the end of a long day. Look out for your fellow drivers and stay alert with these tips from the NHTSA.

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If you’re in an accident in Maine, whether a car accident or a slip-and-fall, you may be wondering if you’ll be saddled with the expenses required to treat your injuries, restore your property, and compensate your time away from work. Maybe you contributed in some small way to your accident, such as speeding slightly or not carefully inspecting the walkway, and you’re worried you may not be able to recover any costs at all.

To recover damages in a personal injury case, you must establish the negligence of the person you are trying to recover from. This means this person owed you a duty of care and breached that duty in a way that caused your injury, which basically establishes fault. Different states use different negligence systems that can create a confusing legal environment for personal injury litigants. Some states say that victims cannot recover any damages at all if they were at fault even in a small way in an accident. Others allow for recovery, but damages will be reduced by the percentage a jury finds you to be at fault. Others allow recovery if you are found either equally at fault or less than equally at fault. In Maine, if you are 49% or less at fault, you are allowed to recover damages in a personal injury case. This is called a modified comparative negligence system.

Modified Comparative Negligence in Maine

As stated above, Maine’s negligence rule means that you will recover as long as a jury determines you were less than 49% at fault in the accident—meaning you cannot recover if you are “equally at fault.” If you are less than 49% at fault but more than 0% at fault, your recoveries will be reduced to the extent the jury finds is “just and equitable” considering your actions and share of responsibility.

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Maine e-bike accident levels have continued to rise as e-bike usage climbs throughout the nation and the state of Maine. Nationally, the sale of e-bikes has rapidly increased, with roughly 804,000 sold in 2021, up from only about 152,000 in 2016, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. E-bikes are a popular vehicle option for several reasons, including convenience, costs savings on gas, and reduced environmental impact relative to cars.

Unfortunately, e-bikes pose an elevated risk relative to conventional bicycles due to the greater velocity of e-bikes. The greater power and subsequent velocity that riders receive from e-bikes places riders at increased risk of accidents, and greater harm resulting from such accidents. In fact, a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Injury Prevention, found that riders of e-bikes are more likely to require hospitalization following accidents than riders of manual bicycles.

Recently, a news article by the New York Times detailed the tragic death of a 12-year-old female rider of an e-bike who died after the e-bike got out of control, resulting in an accident. According to the article, the accident occurred after the rider and a friend rode an e-bike to the top of a hill. They rode the e-bike down the hill when it rapidly began to pick up speed. At that point, the rider tried to engage the brakes, but the front wheel began to wobble, and she lost control, throwing both of them from the e-bike. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she underwent several brain surgeries. She never regained consciousness. Both passengers were wearing helmets while using the e-bike. The article states that the disc brakes used for the e-bike in conjunction with a quick-release mechanism for detaching the front wheel are well-known safety hazards in the bike industry.

On their own, speeding in excess of posted limits and driving under the influence are each deadly driving behaviors. Speeding killed 11,258 people in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a contributing factor in nearly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. Alcohol impairment contributed to 11,654 deaths in 2020, also approximately 30 percent of all traffic crash deaths.

According to a recent article, a 32-year-old woman was struck head-on while driving at around 7:30 a.m. The woman died from her injuries despite attempts to save her life. Meanwhile, the other driver, a 32-year-old man, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the investigation is ongoing, but they believe speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Friends of the victim and strangers alike are mourning her passing, with the former setting up crowdfunding to help the woman’s daughters and family and the latter planting a lilac bush at the scene of the crash in her memory.

Driving Safely Around Fast and Aggressive Drivers

The NHTSA lists “disregard for others and for the law” as one of four factors involved in aggressive driving and speeding, which also include traffic, running late, and anonymity. Drivers who drink and get behind the wheel are certainly exhibiting a disregard for others before speeding even begins to enter the equation—even a blood alcohol concentration of only .02 percent contributes to loss of judgment, the decline in visual functions, and decline in the ability to multitask. If you see someone speeding, driving aggressively, or driving erratically and fear you may be dealing with a drunk or aggressive driver, the NHTSA cautions that there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your passengers.

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Chain reaction crashes occur when one initial vehicle hits another vehicle, and subsequent crashes occur. In some cases, a chain reaction crash involves the impact of one accident causing the vehicle that is rear-ended to then hit another vehicle. In other cases, multiple vehicles may be involved in a car accident because after hitting one vehicle, the at-fault driver continues to drive and collides with more than one vehicle. Whatever the case may be, dealing with multiple insurance claims, vehicle damages, and injuries, all while trying to determine and/or prove who was at-fault as the driver can be a headache. Connecting with an experienced attorney can help you as you navigate such complexities.

For example, according to a recent news report, a four-vehicle crash in Maine, leading to the closure of Route 17 for a few hours. An eastbound vehicle driven by a 31-year-old allegedly crossed over the center line, striking the side mirror of another vehicle. The 31-year-old driver’s vehicle continued in the westbound lane, striking a second vehicle before finally hitting a vehicle head-on. The 31-year-old driver was transported to a local hospital with injuries. Another passenger in a different vehicle was also transported to a local hospital. Multiple EMS agencies responded to the accident, as well as other agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection.

Determining Fault in Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Crosswalks are some of the most dangerous places for pedestrians in Maine cities and towns. Even with safety infrastructure improvements like signaled and raised crosswalks, fatal accidents involving pedestrians at crosswalks are not uncommon in our state. A recent multi-vehicle accident in Augusta that left two pedestrians injured serves as a reminder of the dangers pedestrians encounter, and the importance of holding irresponsible drivers accountable when people get hurt.

According to a local news report discussing the accident, two pedestrians were crossing the street at an intersection using a crosswalk. When the light changed, the pedestrians were still partially in the intersection when a vehicle rear-ended the car that had stopped for the pedestrians. The front vehicle was pushed into the two pedestrians, resulting in injuries requiring emergency assistance and hospitalization. Although the crash remains under investigation, the article does not mention if the drivers involved were cited or charged with any criminal offense or infraction.

Maine drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. If a pedestrian starts to cross the street and the light changes before they are out of the roadway, drivers must wait and continue to yield the right of way to the pedestrian. If a driver entered an intersection and injures a pedestrian who was crossing the street, that driver could be civilly or criminally responsible for the injuries, even if the traffic light signaling the driver was green at the moment of the collision.

Head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous types of events, accounting for about 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 27 percent of all roadway departure fatalities in the nation each year.

Factors Contributing to Head-On Collisions

The causes of motor vehicles are complex, but the characteristics of the drivers broadly play into the likelihood and severity of a head-on collision. According to a recent research study, some main factors contributing to head-on collisions involving younger drivers include inexperience, lack of skill, and risk-taking behaviors. Some typical risk-taking behaviors associated with head-on collisions include:

Too often, we meet with clients who are victims of car accidents that could have easily been avoided. For many clients, the accidents they report are the result of erratic driving and brief moments in which one driver is not paying attention to the road. Unfortunately, these collisions can sometimes be the worst we encounter in our practice, and the injuries that result can often be detrimental. However, accident victims can pursue a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary compensation for the damages they sustained in an accident. These cases can make a great difference in a victim’s life, providing them with money pay for all their medical expenses, lost wages, as well as the non-economic impact the accident had on their life.

One such accident happened one recent Sunday afternoon. According to a local news report from Goldsboro, two cars were driving on the road over the weekend when one driver made a snap decision that resulted in costly injuries. At the intersection of Route 1 and Clinic Road, a Jeep was stopped at an intersection when another car drove in front of a third car near the stoplight. The second and third cars collided, sliding into the Jeep that had been stopped at the intersection. All three cars were caught up in the accident, and a witness nearby called 911 immediately.

Passengers involved in the crash were immediately taken to the hospital. Several were released and deemed to be only minorly hurt, but three were kept for surveillance for additional treatment due to the severity of their injuries.

Nighttime driving is usually more hazardous than daytime travel for various reasons. Low visibility, erratic drivers, and unpredictable weather conditions all can increase the danger. of driving at night. Some of the largest concerns with nighttime driving are fatigue and drowsiness, which result in accidents that kill hundreds of Americans each year. Drowsy driving has been blamed for a recent crash in Maine which injured at least one person and nearly killed two dogs that were ejected from a vehicle involved.

According to a local news report discussing the recent crash, the two vehicles involved were traveling along I-95 near Lincoln when the driver of the trailing SUV appeared to fall asleep at the wheel. The trailing car then rear-ended the other vehicle, causing both vehicles to lose control and roll over into the shoulder. According to the report, two dogs were thrown from the front vehicle as it rolled over. Fortunately, although both animals were injured as a result of the crash, they have since been safely returned to their owners.

Although the animals involved in this recent accident have been safely returned home, that is not always the case with pets involved in auto accidents. If someone’s pet is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another driver, they may be able to recover damages from the at-fault driver. Car insurance policies cover injuries to people involved in a crash, but animals are not covered in the same way. Although many pet owners see their pets as family, auto insurance coverage for bodily injury liability will not cover injuries suffered to an animal.

Drunk and impaired driving continues to pose serious hazards throughout the country. Despite widespread public service campaigns about the dangers of drunk driving and enhanced law enforcement presence, drunk driving continues to be a problem in Maine.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Independence Day week was forecasted to be the deadliest in 2022. Previously from 2016 to 2020, there were over 1300 fatalities over the Fourth of July period, and over 40% of the drivers who died were drunk. Thus, motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else using the road over the Fourth of July weekend should use special care to avoid an accident.

Of course, no amount of care can avoid every accident. Drunk drivers, by definition, are operating with impaired judgment. Thus, these accidents tend to occur randomly and without any advance notice. A drunk driver may run through a red light, cross over the median, or drift up onto the sidewalk, giving potential victims almost no time to react.

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