Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) classifies buses as one of the safest forms of transportation for passengers in the United States, the safety does not extend to people not on the bus. The FMCSA reported that the country experiences over 50,000 bus accidents every year, resulting in thousands of injuries and fatalities. The sheer magnitude of buses makes them a serious and potentially deadly threat to Maine motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and bystanders. In some instances, bus passengers may suffer injuries and death as well. Despite the training that bus drivers must complete, many Maine bus drivers operate their vehicles without the proper concern for others’ safety. In these cases, Maine bus injury victims may seek compensation for their damages.

Many reasons can cause a Maine bus driver to collide with another motorist or pedestrian. These drivers encounter the same risks and hazards as other motorists; however, the accidents come with much more significant consequences. Although the rate of injury is lower, Maine bus passengers face risk when traveling in these vehicles. The primary risk stems from the state’s lack of seat belts on many public and school buses. Although some manufacturers add seat belts on these vehicles, most individuals do not have access to buses with seat belts, and there are vague rules requiring wearing them. Further, most Maine transit buses are overcrowded, especially during peak travel times. Overcrowding leads to many passengers standing closely together without access to safety handles. If an accident occurs in this situation, the passengers may ram into one another, resulting in more serious injuries.

There are even more dangers to those not traveling on the bus. Most Maine transit buses weigh between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds. As a result, a moving bus generates over four times as much energy than a typical vehicle. Further, the design of these buses often results in many blind spots. This often impairs a driver’s ability to gauge their surroundings safely, which can result in a collision. These accidents can have long-lasting and potentially fatal consequences.

As people become accustomed and adjust to social distancing and the “new normal,” our shopping centers and roads are becoming busy again. With more people out and about, that also means a higher likelihood of potential accidents. Car collisions can truly occur anytime, anywhere, and often happen when you least expect it to. When you find yourself involved in an accident, sometimes it can fuel a lot of adrenaline and anxiety. However, everyone should take a few crucial steps when they’re involved in a Maine auto accident, especially in regards to reporting the incident to the proper authorities.

A recent news report discussed a car accident that took place near the entrance of a shopping center and left at least one individual hospitalized. According to those on the scene who witnessed the accident, a car collided with a sign placed where two lanes diverge. The car then slid into the opposite lane and crashed into a truck. Following the accident, local fire rescue, police, and the sheriff’s office all responded to the crash. Many cars near the accident were trapped in the lane and surrounded by emergency vehicles until law enforcement could re-direct traffic around the scene of the accident.

Auto accidents can be an extremely stressful experience, and are often laced with chaos and confusion. In Maine, following a car accident, state law requires that you file a report to the police if you are on a public road and have caused more than $1,000 in property damage or bodily injury. In parking lots or private property, however, you do not have to report. Failure to notify the local authorities of an accident is considered a Class E crime and can result in your license being suspended.

Maine head-on collisions are typically some of the most devastating types of accidents because they tend to lead to serious injuries or death. Unlike other collisions, head-on collisions involve two cars that are traveling toward each other before the accident. In these accidents, the drivers and front passengers are often flung toward, and maybe through, the front windshield. According to the Insurance Information Institute, head-on collisions account for approximately 2 percent of motor vehicle accidents, but they lead to 10 percent of yearly accident-related deaths.

For example, recently, a Maine news report described a harrowing head-on collision involving a car and a pickup truck. An initial investigation revealed that a sedan heading east crossed into a center lane. The pickup truck driver was traveling westbound when the sedan slammed into his vehicle. The sedan driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his car. His female passenger was wearing a seat belt but died at the scene of the accident. The pickup truck passengers were wearing seat belts, but were transferred to a hospital for their injuries.

Like the collision above, most head-on accidents occur when a motorist crosses to the wrong side of the road. Although these situations may occur because of poor road conditions, defective vehicles, and bad judgment, the majority occur because of driver impairment. The at-fault driver may be fatigued or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control cites drowsy driving as a leading cause of head-on collisions.

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.

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.

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.

Like many states, Maine maintains a “dram shop” law that allows injury victims to recover compensation from a host or alcohol vendor who provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing an accident. Maine’s “Liquor Liability Act,” provides that vendors who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol may be liable for recklessly or negligently providing alcohol to someone who is intoxicated or under 21 years old.

Negligent alcohol service occurs when the server should have known that the patron was intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Recklessness occurs if the server served alcohol and knew the person was under 21 years old or drunk, and they disregarded a substantial and apparent risk of harm to the individual or another person. In these cases, the vendor may be liable for the intoxicated person’s negligent or reckless conduct towards another individual. Typical vendors in these cases are restaurants, bars, and pubs.

For example, a news report recently described an incident where a 19-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hitting a curb and flipping his Subaru onto its side. The driver did not suffer injuries, but two of his passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. The teenager was speeding, under the influence of alcohol and failed to obey road signs when the accident occurred. In a case like this, a social host or vendor who served the underage driver may be liable for the passengers’ injuries and damages.

Apportioning liability and recovering compensation in Maine hit and run accidents is typically challenging, and these lawsuits contain unique legal issues. The legal ramifications of Maine hit and run accidents are more serious than a typical traffic accident. Generally, all motorists must exhibit a standard of care when operating their vehicles. When they breach this duty and cause injuries, negligent drivers must take steps to ensure the other party’s safety and mitigate potential damages. When a negligent motorist fails to do this, they may face serious criminal and civil penalties under Maine’s hit and run statutes.

If a Maine driver is involved in an accident resulting in serious personal injury or significant property damage, at a minimum, they must contact law enforcement and emergency services. The driver must also provide the other driver or police with their identifying information, such as their name, contact information, and driver’s license information. Maine classifies leaving the scene of an accident as a “Class C” crime, and hit and run drivers may face driver’s license suspension on top of other fines and penalties.

In addition to potential criminal penalties, Maine hit and run drivers may face significant civil penalties as well. The victim or their loved one may be able to recover damages for their injuries and losses. Although, Maine courts rarely award punitive damages, some plaintiffs may be entitled to these damages in situations where the defendant engaged in intentional malice. Unfortunately, these cases often contain challenges because it may be difficult to locate the negligent motorist, and this can delay proper treatment and financial recovery. Victims of these accidents should contact an attorney to discuss their case and assist with an investigation to ensure that their rights and remedies are effectuated.

Nine months ago, tragedy struck in Norridgewock, Maine, when a car crash on the Fourth of July killed two people. According to a recent news report, a 51-year-old Norridgewock man, was driving his dump truck southbound down Ward Hill Road when he collided with a Pontiac Torrent driven by an 85-year-old woman from Madison. The crash killed the woman in the Pontiac, as well as her passenger, her 80-year-old husband. The driver of the dump truck was taken to Redington Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan but had no life-threatening injuries.

Now, months later, the driver is being charged with Class A manslaughter for recklessly or negligently causing the deaths of the elderly couple. The District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties said that the charge was brought against him after her office reviewed the police’s investigation and the results of an accident reconstruction. In Maine, Class A manslaughter convictions can lead to a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. The defendant, who pled not guilty, is being represented by counsel. In a statement, his lawyer said that the tragic accident was just that, an accident, and that his client tried to stop when the car pulled out in front of him.

The outcome of the case is still unknown; while a court date will be set in the near future, it is currently being postponed due to court shutdowns from the coronavirus pandemic. However, the criminal charge, while it may provide comfort to those who were close to the two victims, does very little to actually help them through the grieving process.

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