Articles Posted in Catastrophic Injuries

Last summer, a 14-year-old boy from Berwick and his 16-year-old sister were passengers in the back seat of their father’s vehicle. They were headed for a camping trip for Father’s Day. Suddenly, while on a highway in Hampton, NH, another driver rear-ended them. The impact was severe. The driver had been distracted. brain injury

The girl suffered serious head and neck injuries, and the boy suffered severe head injuries. Doctors told the children’s mother he “wasn’t hopeful.” The boy had to undergo an emergency craniectomy, removing part of his skull to relieve the swelling. The teen who struck them, meanwhile, was charged with following too closely. He told WCSH-6 recently that he thinks about the crash every day, wishing he could go back and make different choices. He was just a kid, he said, and it was all a “complete accident.”

That doesn’t change the fact that the 14-year-old he hit is now in a state described as “minimally conscious.” He is unable to walk, talk, or eat on his own. No one is able to say when he will recover or if he will ever recover. All of his hopes and dreams and aspirations are, in all likelihood, dashed because someone took a moment to look at their radio. He now requires nurses, home health aides, and physical therapists. He is unable to communicate.

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The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has addressed a blind spot in case law regarding which victims may claim a defendant’s money and assets in a case involving multiple individuals who are equally harmed. gavel21

The case of Estate of Summers v. Nisbet stems from the deadliest fire in Maine in over 40 years. The blaze broke out in a two-unit home in 2014 in Portland. Six people were killed.

In the aftermath, it was alleged the landlord was negligent in maintaining the property in safe condition, which played a central role in the fire. Soon after, families began filing wrongful death lawsuits against the landlord, who also faces six criminal counts of manslaughter.

The family of one man, Steven Summers, was the first to file a claim for damages in court. However, his widow, as personal representative of his estate, did so by filing what is known as an ex parte attachment. It is a claim that is not made public until after the defendant – here, the landlord – goes through a process of challenging that attachment. It’s a secretive process intended to block a defendant’s assets without warning, to prevent the defendant from concealing property or money to avoid having to part with it to satisfy the judgment.  Continue reading

A Tennessee man is facing charges of manslaughter following a Maine truck accident that resulted in two fatalities in March. Now, the Bangor Daily News has revealed the driver had a safety record that was much worse than the national average. truckforward

This matters, particularly for his civil case, because it could be grounds to assert direct liability – and not just vicarious liability – against the trucking company that employed him. It may also be grounds to seek punitive damages, which could greatly increase the damage award for plaintiffs.

The newspaper reported that the 54-year-old trucker was hired by a carrier based in Tennessee. The company’s owner told a reporter he had no idea the driver’s license had been suspended in Louisiana and revoked in Virginia. At that point, he directed questions about the crash to his attorney, though he failed to provide the contact information for that individual.  Continue reading

The family of a motorcycle accident victim who died after falling six stories from his hospital room window says he was not suicidal. Disoriented? Yes. He was suffering from brain injuries, his daughter said. He wanted to go home. hospitalsign

But the hospital had a duty to make sure he was safe and not a danger to himself.

Determining whether his fatal injuries were the result of general negligence or medical malpractice will be part of what the family’s recently-hired injury lawyer will be exploring.  Continue reading

A man driving a car on a rural road in Waterville was reportedly blinded by bright sun when he rear-ended a horse-drawn hayride recently, injuring seven people – one critically. sunglare

According to the Bangor Daily News, the collision happened on Christmas Day when the operators, S&S Carriage Rides, were offering rides to volunteers and guests of the Waterville Elks Lodge.

The force of impact was such that a 56-year-old woman was knocked off the back of the wagon and onto the road, where she was then run over by the car. The seat in which the 42-year-old wagon operator was sitting was broken, though the horses were not hurt. The 73-year-old car driver wasn’t hurt. Seven people in total were taken to the hospital, though the 56-year-old woman had to be flown by helicopter to a health care facility in Portland.  Continue reading

Following the death of a teen girl on a hayride last fall, Maine lawmakers are searching for way to tighten amusement park regulations and restrictions, to ensure similar tragedies never happen again. hayride

Recently, the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee weighed testimony from one lawmaker sponsoring a bill named after the teen that would enhance protections for those who pay money to go on amusement park rides in this state.

The measure, “Cassidy’s Law,” is formally titled LD 1057, An Act to Increase the Safety of Amusement Park Rides. It bears the name of the high school junior who was killed in Mechanic Falls when a 197os-model Jeep hauling a trailer with 20 people on it careened off the trail and into a cluster of trees at a “haunted” hayride offering at a local farm festival.

What began as a fun way to kick off the fall festivities ended in tragedy recently when those aboard a haunted hayride in Maine were dragged by an out-of-control Jeep towing a trailer with nearly two dozen passengers down a steep hill. forestpathinautumn

All 22 injured passengers and the driver were thrown when the Jeep struck a tree. A 17-year-old girl was killed. Although police in Mechanic Falls are still investigating the exact cause, they suspect brake problems with the 1979 Jeep are to blame.

From a personal injury and wrongful death standpoint, there are numerous individuals and entities that are likely to find themselves named as defendants. The driver would be one. The owner of the vehicle, if different than the driver, would likely also be named, as would the event organizers. The land owner or possessor also may face premises liability claims if there is reason to believe the property was in an unsafe condition and there was no warning.

The Maine State Police (MSP) are going to be out in full force over the Fourth of July holiday. They are going to be out in their patrol cars and in aircraft and will have all hands on deck to enforce the state’s traffic laws.

This effort is to help to reduce your risks of a potentially fatal car accident in Bangor and elsewhere throughout the state. They’ll be targeting both aggressive and drunk drivers. The enforcement period is from Friday, June 29th and will continue on through the end of the week, according to WCSH.
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Col. Robert Williams, chief of the MSP, has also called for a crackdown on drivers who aren’t buckled up and motorists who are texting while driving. The months of July and August are the busiest times on our roadways.

Unfortunately, they’re also the deadliest.

Our Bangor car accident lawyers understand that the Fourth of July holiday weekend serves as one of the most dangerous times to be on our roadways. This year, there are more than 42 million people who are expected to travel at least 50 miles from their home for the holiday. About 36 million of these travelers will be doing so by motor vehicle, increasing traffic and risks for accidents significantly. You’re urged to be safe out there and to be on your best driving behavior to help to reduce your risks of an accident.

This is expected to be a big Fourth of July as this is the first Fourth of July in 63 years in which fireworks are legal in the state of Maine, according to the Maine Sun Journal. It’s looking like it’s going to be a big Fourth throughout the state as residents have been stocking up on their fireworks for weeks now.

“Sales are booming,” Scott Boucher, manager at Pyro City.

The law went into effect back in January, still there are some areas that have decided to stay true to the old rule and have continued to prohibit fireworks. These areas include Waterville, Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston, and Portland. Scarborough limits their use to hours surrounding July Fourth and New Year’s Day.

Throughout the entire state, you can’t buy or possess fireworks if you’re under the age of 21.
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As the big holiday draws near, officials with the state are asking all residents, in areas allowing fireworks, to be safe and responsible and to read instructions on all fireworks before use. These fireworks must be set off on the property of the user or of someone who’s given permission. Keep safety a top priority, keep young children away and keep water nearby.

For more safety tips and information regarding the use of fireworks, visit The National Council on Fireworks Safety’s website.

Have a Happy Fourth of July and remember to keep safety as your number one priority. Enjoy!

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A Pastor from Lewiston is proving that it is possible to overcome insurmountable odds to thrive after a Bangor spinal cord injury – though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the experience of a Bangor personal injury attorney who will fight for fair compensation.

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According to The Sun Journal, the pastor, who goes by the name “Wally,” is preparing to return to the pulpit of his Methodist Church following a recent car accident that left him quadriplegic, meaning he doesn’t have the use of his arms or legs. What he isn’t doing, however, is allowing the accident to also rob him of his voice – or his message.

The 74-year-old pastor was traveling on Route 119 early one morning in December when frost and mist contributed to a crash in which a sport utility vehicle collided with him head-on. In an eerie similarity, his wife had an almost identical accident nearly 13 years to the day as his own. In that case too, slippery roads caused another driver to slam into her head-on. It took her months to recover, and she still to this day must use a crutch to walk.

The couple has been married more than 40 years.

The pastor has been left with a broken neck, broken ribs, a bruised spinal cord and a broken wrist. He had to have pins and rods placed in his neck, and has spent the last several months in a Portland rehabilitation center before being transferred to another center in Lewiston, some 100 miles southwest of Bangor.

Since the wreck, he has gained slight movement in his limbs, but he can’t bear weight or lift with either. His wife described the entire ordeal as “quite a siege.”

Indeed, as with any spinal cord injury, it is not only the individual who suffers. Relatives are often left to cope with mounting medical expenses and the exhaustion of working out a care plan. It is also extremely difficult to watch someone you love struggle through or be unable to complete even basic tasks such as dressing themselves or brushing their teeth.

When the root cause of this is the negligence or recklessness of someone else, you deserve at the minimum to have these basic and necessary expenses covered. Any additional award received is never going to return life to the way it was, but it can help to ease the struggle.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the top causes of spinal cord injuries are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents (48 percent)
  • Falls (21 percent)
  • Sports Injuries (14 percent)
  • Violence (15 percent)
  • Other (2 percent)

Of these, about 45 percent result in loss of use of all four limbs.

The cost of such an injury is vast. You are looking at a minimum of 15 days in the hospital for acute or intensive care. Then you’re going to spend a minimum of 45 days in rehabilitation. Those two stays alone will run upward of $140,000. After that, the average first-year expense is $200,000. All of that is if you are lucky. People who are left with quadriplegia are going to rack up bills that total well over $400,000 annually.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new preliminary data calculating the total number of work injuries in Maine and elsewhere in 2010. The Bureau estimates that nearly 4,550 employees were the victim of a fatal work accident in 2010. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported that there was a final count of 4,551 on-the-job fatalities recorded in 2009.

The number of fatal work-related injuries in the United States totaled about 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This is the exact same rate that 2009 produced. Final data for the 2010 year will be released in the Spring of 2012.
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Our Portland injury attorneys understand that there are many unseen factors that go into the risks of a work accident, including the total number of hours worked and the status of the economy/unemployment rate. The number of hours worked was up in 2010 in comparison to both 2008 and 2009. Industries that are typically high-risk however, were fortunate enough to experience a decline in the number of fatal accidents. These industries also experienced a slow increase in the number of worked hours.

The primarily findings from the 2010 Bureau’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

-Self-employed workers: Experienced a decline in the number of fatal work injuries by about 6 percent. Less than 1,000 workers died in this industry during the year.

-Private mining industry: Increased of almost 75 percent in the number of fatal work accidents from 2009 to 2010. Nearly 175 workers died in this industry throughout the year giving it a death rate of 19.9 per 100,000 FTEs.

-Private construction industry: Experienced a decrease of roughly 10 percent in 2010. The number of fatal construction-related work accidents has declined by 40 percent since 2006.

-Fatal Injuries caused by fires:sThese incidents have more than doubled from since the previous year. More than 100 fatal work injuries were caused by fires in 2010, which is the highest number recorded since 2003.

-Homicides: Decreased by nearly 10 percent 2010. This is the lowest number that the Bureau has ever recorded. In this category, homicide involving women increased by nearly 13 percent, however.

-Race:sAfrican-American and non-Hispanic workers experienced a 9 percent decline in 2010 in the number of fatal work injuries. Fatal work-related injuries experienced by white workers increase by about 2 percent. Hispanic or Latino workers experienced a decrease of about 4 percent.

-Police officers:sExperienced an increase of about 40 percent, more than 130 law enforcement officers died in 2010.

Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe. Federal regulations are in place to ensure than these individuals are taking all of the proper precautions to help keep employees safe. Failure to comply with federal recommendations can result in legal consequences, fines, violations, lawsuit or potential shut down.

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