Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

Last year, the number of boating-related deaths in Maine was on par with those in Florida, a state that is more populous, surrounded by more water and where the season isn’t hampered by weather.
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Our boating accident lawyers understand that in the last five years, 43 peopleshave been killed in 39 separate boating crashes in Maine. The total number of accidents during that same time frame was 206, meaning that 20 percent of all boating accidents result in death.

Compare that to other high-boating states: In Minnesota, the percentage is 18 percent; In Florida, it’s 9 percent; In New York, it’s 14 percent.

Every day in this country, someone is injured or dies in a boating accident every 2.5 hours. In Maine, the summer season means we’ll see a spike of these occurrences.

The same can be said for pool-related injuries and deaths. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reports that approximately 30 people in the state die each year of accidental drowning. Nationwide, it’s the No. 1 cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. More than half of all drowning victims are under the age of 5.

With regard to boating accidents, the one good bit of news is that almost all states now have laws that bar operation of a vessel if one is intoxicated or has a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. Georgia recently reduced its legal BAC from 0.10 to 0.08 percent. The only other states that remain at the 0.10 BAC legal limit for boaters are Michigan, North Dakota and Wyoming – and the latter two are land-locked.

Last year, the U. . Coast Guard reported that alcohol was a factor in some 17 percent of the more than 650 boating deaths nationally. That was a slight increase from what we saw the year before, when alcohol accounted for 16 percent.

A former longtime Maine Marine Patrol officer, now the director of law enforcement for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, was quoted by USA Today as saying that law enforcement reaction to those who are boating while drunk has shifted. It used to be, he said, that intoxicated boaters were simply given a warning and told to go home. Now, he says, if a person is over the legal limit, he or she will be arrested.

That’s one piece of the puzzle – but it’s not everything. The NASBLA reports that in addition to alcohol consumption, other leading factors of boating fatalities are:

  • Operator inexperience;
  • Operator inattention;
  • Excessive Speed;
  • Improper loading;
  • Overloading.

All of these scenarios are preventable.

The same can be said of child drowning. While an incredibly tragic situation, it’s almost always preventable. An excellent article recently published by Slate.com discusses the deceptively quiet nature of drowning, and how you can potentially spot it while occurring (it’s not as easy as you might think).

As for prevention, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance recommends the following:

  • Always know where your children are. Never leave a child unattended in or near water in a pool, bathtub, lake, canal, ocean or even buckets, aquariums or kiddie pools.
  • Always take note of any potential dangers in your environment, particularly if you are visiting a home or other place with a pool, spa or pond.
  • Instruct caregivers or babysitters about the potential hazards of a pool and stress the need for constant barriers and supervision.
  • If a child does go missing, always check the spa or pool first, as seconds can be crucial.

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Our Maine personal injury attorneys would like to wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday weekend. We would also like to ask you to be extra cautious, no matter what your plans are, as many residents are exposed to an increased risk for accidents and injuries.
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Residents and visitors are more likely to experience an injury in Maine during this holiday weekend, whether you’re celebrating on the water, at the pool or lighting off fireworks. With the proper safety precautions, residents can help to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and injury-free this Independence Day weekend.

Celebrating the weekend on the water?sBe sure you follow these safety tips, provided by Discover Boating, to help keep you and other boaters safe:

-Check the weather reports before venturing out. If you’re out on a boat and you see bad weather approaching, play it safe and get to land. It is encouraged that you get off the water if you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature.

-Be sure to operate at a safe speed all the time, especially in crowded areas.

-Stay away from large vessels that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn.

-Be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. These signals have been placed there to help ensure your boating safety.

-Make sure more than one person on board knows every aspect of your boat’s handling, operations and other boating safety tips.

-Make sure that everyone on board has a life jacket. A majority of drowning victims were the result ofsboating accidents in which passengers were found to not be wearing a life jacket.

-Never boat and drive. You’re twice as likely to be involved in a boating accident when alcohol is involved.

-Get a free vessel safety check. The US Coast Guard offers free boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.
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What’s the Fourth of July without fireworks? Using fireworks is as traditional as Independence Day parades and barbecues. According to the National Council on Firework Safety, there were approximately 5,900 fireworks-related injuries during the Fourth of July season in 2009. Dr. John Steinberg, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on Firework Safety, suggests that everyone uses a little common sense to reduce the risks of injury this year.

The Council offers these tips to help keep residents safe this Fourth of July:

-Always supervise teens when they are using fireworks.

-Do not allow children to handle fireworks.

-Only use fireworks outdoors.

-Always have water ready. You should keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby.

-Do not drink alcohol and light off fireworks. Always have a designated lighter.

-Make sure you’re wearing safety glasses whenever lighting off fireworks.

-Do not attempt to relight a dud firework. Instead, let it sit for 20 minutes and then soak it in water.

-Do not combine or alter fireworks in any way. Only use them as instructed.

As summer provides perfect weather for outdoor celebrations, many residents will be relaxing poolside and barbecuing with family and friends, but with the pool comes great risks for injuries — and death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Two of these deaths that occur every day occur to children that are under the age of 15. As a matter of fact, drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages. It is the second leading cause of death for children ages 14 and younger.

There were nearly 3,500 fatal unintentional drownings in 2007 alone. These were non-boating related drownings. More than half of the drowning victims were taken to and treated in emergency rooms and eventually were transferred to higher levels or care of hospitalized. Many times, injuries from nonfatal drownings can be sever and life altering. A victim can suffer brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities. These disabilities can include memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

The CDC offers these safety tips to help ensure everyone’s safety this holiday weekend at the pool:

-Supervise children around water at all times.

-Always use the buddy system. Never swim, or let anyone swim, alone.

-Do not use air-filled or foam toys in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

-Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming.

-Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the time it might take for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could help to save someone’s life.

Again, have a safe and fun Independence Day and remember to practice all safety tips, regardless of your weekend plans.

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INSURANCE ADJUSTERS HAVE THE INTERNET TOO!

Most people at one time or another have heard the advice “Do not put anything in an email or online that you would not want on the front page of the newspaper”. This is never truer than when you are bringing a personal injury claim. The insurance company WILL search for your online profiles. More than once, we have received a call from an adjuster directing us to a client’s online profile.

“So what?” you might be thinking, “I have nothing to hide. Besides, nothing I put on my Facebook or MySpace account has anything to do with my accident.”sThis is almost never true. For example, if you are claiming an injury, and you are writing about all of the things you did over the weekend, that is relevant. If you are posting pictures of your participation in a charity walk, that is relevant. As your attorneys, we know the truth is accident victims have good days and bad days while recovering. It is our job to make that argument on your behalf. However, the insurance adjuster will use this to show that your injuries are not very serious.

What happens if someone else’s negligence behind the wheel causes you injury and they don’t have enough insurance?sIn Maine, every auto insurance policy is required to have several components. In a previous post, we discussed uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, or the coverage that exists when the other party is not insured. The partner component of UM coverage is underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Like with UM coverage, every auto insurance policy in Maine must have a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of UIM coverage (See Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 29-A Section 1605 (1)(C)(2) & (3) and Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 24-A Section 2902). This means, if you have insurance, you automatically have this coverage as part of your policy.

UIM coverage is used when someone causes you injury and their insurance policy is not sufficient to cover your damages. For example, although Maine requires $50,000 minimum of insurance, Massachusetts only requires $20,000 minimum. With the rising costs of medical expenses, even a moderate injury can easily use up this amount. This must also cover any lost wages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and all other damages you may have. (The only exception is your vehicle damage, which is usually covered separately.)

So, if you are injured by someone who has $20,000 of insurance and you have $50,000, then there is a total of $70,000 of coverage right?sUnfortunately, no. In Maine, your UIM carrier receives a credit for the amount paid by the insurance company for the at fault driver. Therefore, in this example there is only a total of $50,000 of coverage. $20,000 paid by the at fault driver and $30,000 paid by your UIM carrier. Therefore, if you only have the minimum required insurance coverage of $50,000 of UIM, and someone else with the minimum causes you an injury, there is no additional coverage for your injuries.

What happens if someone else’s negligence behind the wheel causes you injury and they don’t have insurance?sIn Maine, every auto insurance policy is required to have several components. One of those components is uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Every auto insurance policy must have a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of UM coverage. (See Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 29-A Section 1605 (1)(C)(2) & (3) and Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 24-A Section 2902). This means, if you have insurance, you automatically have this coverage as part of your policy.

UM coverage is used when someone with no insurance at all causes you injury. In that case, you can use up to the amount of your policy. Therefore, if you have only purchased the state minimum of insurance, the maximum amount available tosyou from an accident will be $50,000. This is true even if the accident was not your fault. With the rising costs of medical expenses, even a moderate injury can easily use up this amount. This must also cover any lost wages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and all other damages you may have. (The only exception is your vehicle damage, which is usually covered separately.)

Note that the limit is further split, depending on how many people are injured in the accident. For example, if a family of three are traveling in the same car and all three are injured, the maximum amount available for the whole accident is capped at $100,000. No one person can recover more than $50,000 and the total amount the insurance company will have to pay will not exceed $100,000. Again, if all three have even moderate injuries, there will likely not be enough money to properly compensate everyone.

Until recently, auto and other liability insurance companies in Maine were not required to disclose the amount of insurance carried by their insureds, even when they were clearly at fault for an accident. This gave the insurance companies an advantage in settlement negotiations and in determining how long a case took to settle. Fortunately, the Maine legislature corrected this obvious inequity and granted injured persons the right to the insurance coverage information. (M.R. .A 24A -§2164-E.) If the insurance companies do not disclose the information within 60 days of a written request, you are entitled to a $500 fine from them. Many insurance companies are not yet aware of the change in the law and the team at Peter Thompson & Associates has successfully collected several $500 fines for our clients. If you have questions about your rights when dealing with insurance companies, contact us at 1-800-917-1784 or read more on our website, www.Peter-Thompson-Associates.com, on our car accident practice page.

On Thursday, August 27, 2009, a serious multi-vehicle crash on Route 1. The crash happened at about 7 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Route 1 and Pine Point Road.

Police said two people were transported to the hospital with unknown injuries.

Cases such as this one are complicated and require a thorough investigation into the physical evidence at the scene (e.g., skid marks and road debris), the damage to the vehicles, and the observations of witnesses. Above all, it will be critical to obtain witness statements while memories of the events are still fresh. As Portland and Bangor attorneys with a statewide personal injury law practice and a reputation for aggressive prosecution of injury claims, we have investigated thousands of multicar accidents using expert accident reconstructionists to determine which driver or drivers caused the accident.

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