Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Recently, the Maine Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Bureau of Highway Safety and the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT), released crash data that was compiled over the past ten years. This report may serve as an essential resource when Maine car accident victims try to collect damages from an at-fault motorist. The crash data provides safety officials and motorists with valuable information regarding common causes of Maine car accidents. The report evaluates relevant contributing factors such as time of day, day of the week, type of driver, type of vehicle, and driver behavior.

For ease of use, the report reflects five-year annual averages and only covers the most frequently requested crash information. Generally, the report found that after seeing a dip around 2010, Maine crash rates have steadily increased over the last five years. Over this time, there have been over 8,000 crashes resulting in severe injuries and over 150 fatalities. Most serious injury crashes occurred on Fridays, Thursdays, and Wednesdays. Whereas, the majority of fatal car accidents occurred on Saturdays and Fridays. Interestingly, both types of accidents occurred mainly between 9 pm and 2 am, even though this is generally a low traffic volume time of day.

The report included crash rates by driver age, but did not differentiate between fault. However, drivers between the ages of 16-24, and then 65-69, seem to be involved in the majority of the crashes. They also evaluated the number of drivers with suspended licenses, finding that about, on average, 2.5% of car accidents involved a driver with a suspended license. The report also provided detailed information regarding the number of vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, ATVs, and snowmobiles involved in these accidents.

After a car accident, most injury victims file an insurance claim to recover for their damages. Indeed, insurance companies play a critical role in most Maine car accident cases, and it is essential that these companies responsibly, accurately, and lawfully review claims. Insurance companies who fail to settle claims, unduly delay compensation, or improperly deny claims can cause injury victims to experience significant physical, financial, and emotional consequences. Maine has several complicated and specific statutes in place to hold insurance companies liable for engaging in this behavior. However, these remedies are often hard to effectuate and require a comprehensive understanding of Maine’s insurance laws.

Under Maine’s insurance laws, anyone who owns or operates a vehicle in the state must carry the minimum amount of coverage required by law, which is $50,000 per person or $100,00 per accident for bodily injury liability, $25,000 for property damage, and $2,000 per person in medical payments coverage. Additionally, motorists must purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) of at least $50,000 per person and $100,00 per accident. This crucial coverage protects drivers and their passengers if the at-fault party does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage. Although, these amounts may seem high, they are often not enough to cover the damages caused by a serious Maine car accident.

Maine drivers naturally purchase motor vehicle coverage with the belief that the insurance company will provide them with financial protection. Generally, insurance companies must engage with their policyholders in good faith. This means that the law requires insurance companies to fairly and meticulously review a policyholder’s claim and attempt to settle claims against the insured. When an insurance company acts in bad faith by unlawfully failing to approve or settle a claim without a reasonable basis, they may face legal consequences through a Main bad faith insurance claim.

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Cell phone use leads to over 1.5 million crashes and close to 400,000 injuries. Maine drivers who engage in this risky behavior may be liable for any resulting injuries and damages.

Driving while texting or talking on the phone exponentially increases the likelihood of an accident. In addition to other distracted driving such as, adjusting music, arguing with passengers, and tending to children or pets in the backseat can have potentially fatal consequences and account for almost 30% of accidents in the United States.

In response to these startling statistics, Maine legislators enacted a hands-free driving bill. This recent law prohibits Maine drivers from using hand-held devices or cell phones while driving. Before this law, Maine banned texting and operating a motor vehicle; however, police officials expressed the challenges they encountered trying to discern texting drivers from those engaging in other similar behaviors. This law is designed to allow police officers to apprehend drivers who are using their phones in any manner while driving.

The winter storm season in Maine is among the most intense in the United States. Indeed, Maine residents can see upwards of 110 inches of snow per year, depending on which part of the state is their home. Needless to say, all this snow creates a serious hazard for Maine motorists. According to the most recent state government statistics, there are over 6,000 Maine car accidents each year caused by winter driving conditions.

Maine drivers face many potential hazards in the winter, including snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain, as well as potholes, snowplows, obscured road markings, other motorists driving too fast for the conditions, and uncleared roads and parking lots.

In Maine, motorists have an affirmative obligation to make sure that they are safely operating their vehicles at all times – regardless of the weather conditions. For example, Maine speed limits are designed to be used as a guideline during ideal road conditions. However, during periods of reduced visibility, when it is snowing or raining, or when the temperatures are below freezing, motorists should slow down below the posted speed limit. If a driver fails to reduce their speed according to the weather conditions and causes an accident as a result, they may be liable for any resulting injuries.

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Self-driving cars are gaining traction among many drivers across the United States. Although manufacturers of these vehicles emphasize their safety, these vehicles still pose significant risks of Maine car accidents. The popular electric car company Tesla uses an autopilot feature to allow drivers to let go of the wheel while driving. According to developers, the cars work faster than humans and work by collecting vision, sonar, and radar data to process driving conditions. The autopilot feature helps cars stay in their lanes, match speed conditions, shift lanes when necessary, and self-park. Despite these features, Tesla urges drivers to remain alert while operating these vehicles and keep their hands on the steering wheel.

This warning seems to contradict many of the company’s claims regarding the safety and reliability of their cars. However, Tesla’s CEO posts videos of drivers engaging the system without their hands on the steering wheel. In response to safety concerns and accidents involving these vehicles, Tesla continues to stand by their position that its autopilot feature is a safer way to drive.

Tesla claims that its autopilot feature is almost 40% safer than driving without this system. However, safety experts argue that Tesla’s statistics are flawed and do not accurately reflect crash data. In fact, Tesla’s autopilot feature was engaged during three fatal collisions in the United States. More recently, Tesla’s autopilot feature was engaged when a car rear-ended a police vehicle in Connecticut. According to a news report, after the accident, the driver told the police that he was tending to his dog in the backseat when the car collided with the police vehicle. Fortunately, the police car was disabled, and no one suffered injuries; however, images show substantial damage to the vehicle. Police cited the driver with a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving and endangerment. If the car were occupied, the driver would likely face civil liability claims as well.

In an attempt to enhance safety and reduce accidents, the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) gathers data and provides statistics regarding Maine motor vehicle crashes. Most recently, the DOT reported that Maine experiences one fatal crash every 60 hours, and one personal injury crash ever 56 minutes. There have been over 30,000 traffic accidents, and many of these involve all-terrain vehicles (ATV).

ATVs are motorized off-road vehicles typically used for recreational purposes. There are many risks associated with these vehicles because of their design and limited restrictions on their operation. Although Maine prohibits children under ten years old from operating an ATV, they do permit children and teenagers over ten and under 16 years old to operate them if they complete a training course. Moreover, while typical driving under the influence statutes applies to ATV drivers, many times, riders engage in this unsafe behavior because there are not many law enforcement officials patrolling the areas where these vehicles are usually driven.

There are several leading causes of severe and fatal ATV accidents in Maine. For example, accidents may arise when a driver uses an ATV on a paved surface, as these vehicles are designed for off-road use and not pavement. Further, most ATVs are single-rider vehicles, and an additional passenger can throw off the vehicle’s balance. Also, many times, accidents result because drivers lack training and supervision. Drivers who unsafely operate an ATV can cause substantial injuries to themselves, bystanders, and other drivers.

One woman was killed and another seriously injured when two vehicles were involved in a Maine car accident near St. Albans. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred on Palmyra Road at a time when there were wet road conditions. It is unclear if it was actively raining at the time of the crash. Evidently, a 20-year-old woman driving a 2002 Toyota Camry was traveling southbound on Palmyra Road when she inexplicably drifted across the center median into oncoming traffic. As the Camry crossed into traffic, it collided head-on with a Toyota Corolla being driven by a 65-year-old woman.

The older woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and the younger driver was seriously injured, including a broken leg. Neither vehicle contained any passengers. Authorities attribute the crash to the wet road conditions, as well as the fact that they believe the driver of the Camry was speeding at the time of the accident. According to the police, both of these factors contributed to her losing control of the vehicle. An investigation is still underway to determine if criminal charges will be brought against the Corolla’s driver.

Maine Wrongful Death Claims

Earlier this month, a Maine car accident in Lisbon sent five to the hospital, three of whom remained hospitalized for more than 24 hours with critical injuries. According to a local news report covering the accident, the two vehicles, a Subaru and a Chrysler, were headed in opposite directions on Route 196, also known as Lisbon Road, early in the afternoon. For unknown reasons, the Subaru crossed into the opposite lane of traffic and collided with the Chrysler. The crash was so severe that Route 196 was closed for two and a half hours afterward, and police are still investigating exactly what happened.

All five people involved—an older couple in the Chrysler and a young couple with an infant in the Subaru—were taken to the hospital after the crash. Unfortunately, the passengers of both cars, a 71-year-old woman and a 29-year-olf woman, remained in critical condition more than 24 hours later. The latter suffered very severe upper-body injuries and had to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit. The driver of the Subaru, presumed to be at-fault, also suffered severe injuries.

When an accident occurs as a result of a driver’s mistake, Maine law allows the victims to hold the at-fault party responsible, usually through a negligence action. Under Maine personal injury law, all drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care on the road, to avoid injuring others. If they breach that duty, a plaintiff injured by their actions – whether it be intoxicated driving, distracted driving, or reckless driving—may be able to hold them liable.

The Bureau of Highway Safety and the Maine Department of Transportation periodically release Maine crash data. These reports indicate that the leading causes of Maine accidents are distracted and inattentive driving, lane departures, speeding, and impaired driving. Many people believe that impaired driving is only a result of alcohol or illicit drug use; however, impaired driving also includes those driving while under the influence of a prescription medication that was prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition. It can also include those who drive while suffering from certain medical conditions.

Some medical conditions make it unsafe for an individual to drive a vehicle. People who know or should know that their medical condition can cause driving impairment should take appropriate precautions before operating a motor vehicle. In some instances, driving may not be safe at all. Certain medical conditions may predispose a person to engage in unsafe driving. For example, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, limited eyesight, and other conditions that require medication may limit a driver’s ability to drive safely.

If a driver’s health condition is the cause of an accident, they may be liable for any injuries caused by the accident. Establishing liability in typical impaired or drunk driving accidents may be straightforward; however, accidents resulting from medical conditions can be more complicated. Drivers owe others a standard of care to operate their motor vehicle safely. If a driver knows or should know that their medical condition or medication can cause impaired driving, they should not risk the safety of others by driving. If they fail to take the appropriate precautions and cause an accident, they may face liability.

Earlier this month, three individuals were tragically killed in a car accident in Acadia National Park. According to a news report covering the accident, the driver had been drinking late into the evening on the night in question, yet mistakenly thought that he was able to drive. While specific details about the accident are not yet known, the report indicates that the driver, while traveling faster than the 25 miles per hour speed limit, lost control of his vehicle on a curve and then hit a tree.

The driver called 911 after the crash, and officials immediately responded. Three victims were identified, ages 27, 30, and 36. Law enforcement recently charged the driver with three counts of manslaughter, one for each victim.

Unfortunately, traffic deaths resulting from car or truck accidents are not uncommon and are a huge cause for concern in Maine. According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, traffic deaths in 2019 are up 24% from 2018. Before this tragic accident occurred, 105 people had been killed on Maine roads in 2019 so far. These deaths can result in criminal charges, potentially carrying fines and jail time for the driver, but the filing of criminal charges does little to help the accident victims, or their families, deal with the expenses incurred in the accident’s aftermath.

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