Articles Posted in Catastrophic Injuries

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.

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.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.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.

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.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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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.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.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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June is National Safety Month in Maine and throughout the country. In order to raise awareness, the National Safety Council is urging communities and businesses to practice safe behaviors at work and home to reduce the number of preventable injuries and car accidents in Maine and elsewhere.

Our Bangor accident attorneys know that safety is important, but it is often someone else’s irresponsible behaviors that can cause serious injury, so be prepared to take action if you are the victim of negligence.

The NSC has dedicated each week of the month to different safety topics. The first week, June 1-4, is dedicated to summertime safety. Numerous Safety & Health Fact Sheets are provided with a concentration on distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety and home safety.

The focal point of week two, June 5-11, is preventing overexertion. Injuries in the lower back, sprains and strains, are the most prominent example of overexertion injuries. Overexertion is the third-leading cause of preventable injuries that are treated in a hospital emergency room.

June 12-18 is dedicated to teen driving safety. Creating awareness is critical in keeping roadways safe since 5,500 people are killed yearly in accidents with a teen driver involved.

The fourth week, June 19-25 focuses on preventing slips and fall accidents. Falls are a common cause for a trip to the emergency room, especially in older adults (55 and up).

The final week, June 26-30, places attention on driving and cell phone use. It is estimated that 23 percent of car accidents are caused by drivers distracted by cell phones.

A national observance of unintentional injuries and deaths is needed because the number of accidents is escalating to undesirable levels. In 2009, there were more than 128,000 unintentional deaths – a 47 percent increase since 1992. In comparison, the 1992 total (86,777) matched the lowest estimated total since 1924; the 2009 total was the highest estimated total ever recorded.

Each year, families throughout the country spend roughly $5,900 on medical expenses for unintentional injuries and trips to the hospital. These injuries cost Americans and their employers almost $700 billion a year.

As part of overexertion recognition week, the NSC offers the following safety and health tips:

-Keep your home and work environment clutter-free. Store things in a closet or cabinet.

-Refrain from using rolling chairs as a ladder to reach things.

-Stack heavy items near the bottom to avoid them falling on you or straining your back to lift them.

-Make routine visits to the eye doctor to check your vision. Make sure prescription eyeglasses are used when needed.

-Make sure outlets are not overloaded with cords to reduce the risk of a fire hazard.
Visit the website for more safety tips that can be used at work.

Maine residents can reduce the risk of unintentional injuries by being safe drivers, maintaining a safe home and work environment and using a little common sense when it comes to proper safety procedures.

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As reported in the Portland Press Herald on December 28, 2010

CARRABASSETT VALLEY — A chair lift derailed in high winds at Maine’s tallest ski mountain Tuesday, sending screaming skiers plummeting as far as 30 feet to the slope below and injuring several of them.

The Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley, about 120 miles north of Portland, said about six people were injured when five chairs fell an estimated 25 to 30 feet. The resort’s ski patrol evacuated the lift, which had passed an inspection.

As reported in the Portland Press Herald on December 15, 2010

” . . .

A Subaru Outback driven by Laura Breault, 48, of Knox, was heading east toward Brooks. Breault was taking her 15-year-old daughter, Jessica, to school, Keating said.

For many years, Maine law has required anyone in a vehicle that is required to have seatbelts, to wear a setbelt. (29-A M.R. .A §2081)There are also more specific safety restraint rules for children.

A study done of crashes which occured in 1996 in Maine concluded that ” . . . unbelted occupants were 2.8 times more likely to be hospitalized or die with a head injury than those belted.” (As reported by the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety). However, the statute specifically states that failing to use your seatbelt is not admissible evidence in any civil or criminal trial. Therefore, while it is clear that you should be belted when you are in a vehicle, the fact that you were not wearing your seatbelt during an accident is irrelevant. It cannot be used as eveidence, even if the other driver could prove you would not have been injured if you had your seatbelt on.

Some states do not have this rule. Therefore, some insurance adjusters may tell injured parties their claims are worth less because they didn’t buckle up. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident in while unbelted and has questions about the law, contact the team at Peter Thompson and Associates. We have handled thousands of similar claims and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. For a consultation call 1-800-917-1784 or read more on our website,, on our car accident practice page.

Reported in the Portland Press Herald on November 26, 2010

A 27-year-old Portland native was killed early Thursday morning in a two-car crash in Massachusetts in which one of the drivers has been charged with motor vehicle homicide while drunk, according to police.

Raina Jensen was a back-seat passenger in a 2002 Nissan Altima traveling in Wilbraham, Mass., when it was struck by a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Joshua Lacroix, 24, of Ware, Mass.

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