Articles Posted in Injuries to Children

The outcome of a vicarious liability claim against an employer of a dog owner in a recent Maine dog bite injury lawsuit hinged on whether the employee was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time the dog attacked. The case, recently before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, was challenging because the employee and dog owner lived in the same place where he worked. Additionally, the dog owner’s employer was also the victim’s landlord. dog

The child dog bite injury happened at an apartment complex where the plaintiff and her son resided and for which the dog owner, who also lived on site, was responsible for maintenance.

Vicarious liability, per Maine Revised Statutes 29-A-1109, holds that employers can be responsible for the acts of their employees if they approved or had knowledge of the employee’s actions and either approved or retained benefits, proceeds, profits, or advantages from the acts. Relevant also in this case is Maine Revised Statutes 9-729-3961, which outlines reimbursement for damage done by animals, including dogs. It holds that when an animal causes damage to a person or property due to the negligence of the animal’s keeper or owner, that owner or keeper is liable in a civil action to the injured person for the damage, as long as the injured person wasn’t more at fault than the dog’s keeper or owner.

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The loss of a child is a profound and devastating loss that leaves parents, siblings, and other loved ones forever changed. It can be particularly traumatizing when the death occurs suddenly and unnecessarily, such as in a car accident.car accident

Motor vehicle crashes remain one of the top causes of childhood mortality and serious injuries, and new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows they are on the rise nationally.

Just recently, a nine-year-old Maine boy died after suffering severe traumatic brain injuries in a car accident on Interstate 95 that closed the highway for hours. The boy, from Kittery, was killed in the Connecticut crash while seated in the back of a Toyota Camry, seat belt fastened. According to the Bangor Daily News, the driver of his vehicle had to stop abruptly due to a sudden slowdown in traffic up ahead. The 29-year-old driver of a sport utility vehicle directly behind them slammed into the back of the car and then pushed it into the vehicle ahead. The driver who rear-ended the Camry was also from Maine.

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It was five years ago that a high school cheerleader in Maine suffered a horrifying head injury during a “basket toss” stunt, in which she fell some 20 feet after being thrown in the air by her teammates at practice. cheerleading

In a lawsuit she filed three years ago, the former Poland Regional High School student described the aftermath of her concussion, which involved dizziness, sensitivity to light, awful headaches, long sleeping stretches and difficulty concentrating that resulted in slipping grades. The lawsuit alleged the school didn’t properly supervised the practice, failed to halt the practice once the student athlete was injured, didn’t observe her injury or provide prompt medical attention and violated a host of industry rules and standards as well as Maine law.

Now, according to a recent report published in the journal Pediatrics, we know these injuries aren’t all that uncommon among cheerleaders. There are approximately 400,000 students nationally participating in high school cheerleading. Of those, about 124,000 are in competitive “spirit squads.” These squads demand discipline, skill and increasing athletic ability, and that has meant the risk of injury has risen.  Continue reading

Only six states in the U.S. have laws that require seat belt installation on school buses. Maine isn’t among them. That should change, according to Mark R. Rosekind, National Highway Traffic Safety administrator. schoolbus2

In a recent keynote speech to a group of school transportation officials in Virginia, Rosekind announced the NHTSA would putting more resources toward researching the effectiveness of seat belts on school buses. He further committed his agency to pursuing mandates requiring every school bus in the country to have three-point seat belt systems installed for children.

However, he didn’t indicate the NHTSA would be initiating the rule-making process, which is necessary to enact a mandatory rule. The aforementioned study will focus on school bus seat belt safety in Florida, California, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey and Texas. These are the states that have required schools to have seat belts installed on all vehicles responsible for transporting children. Continue reading

A high school in Rockport, about an hour north of Portland, has canceled the rest of the school’s football season – and next year’s too – amid “serious safety concerns” attributed to a reduced number of players. highschoolfootball

Players, speaking recently to The Boston Globe, are bitterly disappointed. They argue even if they suffered major losses on the field, they shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to play. But school administrators say it wasn’t the scoreboard that concerned them. Rather, it was the risk of injury to players.

The superintendent in an open letter explained several team members had sustained injuries early on in the season, and two of those incidents led to trips to the emergency room. She also said a number of players were afraid to go on the field, though they would not admit so publicly. The number of players had dwindled substantially in recent years, and the school says that meant players were young and inexperienced and often going up against bigger, stronger, older players. Continue reading

The father of a 21-month-old boy says their child died in a Portland hospital after falling ill a week after a visit to the Oxford County Fair. The child was diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which is a disease born of E. coli, a bacteria that’s typically found in the intestines of both humans and animals. pettingzoo

After learning of another toddler who is in critical condition with the same condition after visiting the same petting zoo, the deceased boy’s father said he is convinced his child picked up the illness at the petting zoo. He told the Boston Globe he and the other family compared notes on everything they ate, places they went, cleanliness practices. He said the two children didn’t know each other and had never met.

“But we both went to the petting zoo,” he told a reporter.

The other child, 17 months, remains hospitalized. 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.

An elementary school student was struck and seriously injured by a vehicle while boarding a bus in Sedgwick recently. The child was later transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Coincidentally, the accident occurred just days before National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 20-24. schoolbuswithchild1

According to the Maine State Police, the crash occurred as the child was boarding the bus to school around 7:30 a.m. The bus slowed with its yellow flashing lights to indicate it was preparing to stop to pick up the girl. However, she was not standing outside as usual, so the driver pulled to the side of the road and turned off the yellow flashing lights, an indicator that through traffic was allowed to pass. As a 64-year-old driver was passing the bus, the girl raced out into the street, thinking the bus was stopped for her. (It was, but the absence of yellow flashing lights meant it wasn’t safe for her to cross.)

The private busing company that provides service to the school district declined to comment.

During the summer in Maine, we inevitably see an uptick of dog bites as more folks are out-and-about enjoying the nice weather. Many are accompanied by their dogs, or they may be more lax regarding their dog’s outdoor enclosures. dogbite1

Portland dog bite lawyers want to point out that Maine is a strict liability state with regard to dog bites. That means if a dog injures another person, the owner or keeper is liable for whatever damages result. M.R.S.A. 3961 holds that any fault on the part of the injured party won’t reduce damages covered, unless the court finds that fault exceeded the fault of the owner.

In instances of dogs biting children, this is rarely an issue because owners are supposed to recognize that children do not have the foresight as adults when approaching and handling dogs.

When three young children and their parents were exposed to toxic lead in their rented Maine home, they sought compensation through the courts.

After being denied a jury trial on some of the negligence complaints raised, the family lost the remaining claims at trial. paintbucket

But now, the Maine Supreme Court has found clear errors in the way the trial court handed the case, ruling that the burden of proof was unfairly shifted to the plaintiffs. The victims will now have the opportunity to seek a new trial in the case of Bratton v. McDonough.