Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

The tragic death of a 26-year-old sailor stationed at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base adds to the growing concern about the safety of mopeds, scooters, e-scooters, and e-bicycles, as well as other alternative forms of transportation in Maine.

The Kitsap Sun referred to the vehicle on which the submariner crashed as both a “scooter” and a “motorcycle,” although the Yamaha Chappy, produced in the 1970s and 1980s, would be characterized as a moped under Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles because it has a motor that reaches up to 50 cc’s (compared to a scooter, which doesn’t exceed 25 cc’s). Most mopeds top out at speeds of 40 mph, but some larger models can go faster.

Although mopeds haven’t historically been a common way of getting around cities like Portland and Bangor, that does seem to be changing. Traffic safety officials and Maine injury attorneys are paying closer attention.

A 28-year-old woman seriously injured as a passenger in a Maine motorcycle accident was awarded $2.5 million for life-changing injuries, according to the Bangor Daily News. The claim was against a 78-year-old driver. Another claim for damages against the motorcycle operator had been previously settled for an undisclosed sum. The case proceeded to trial after plaintiff rejected defendant’s settlement offer of $9,500. At trial, defendant driver was found to be 20 percent liable, meaning she is responsible for $400,000 of the damages.

According to news reports of the case, plaintiff was a passenger on a motorcycle operated in Kennebec County by a 30-year-old in June 2015. Defendant driver reportedly swerved suddenly to the right in order drive into the parking area of a bagel shop. This prompted the motorcycle operator to attempt to illegally pass the driver on the right. The two vehicles collided. The motorcycle operator suffered minor injuries, while plaintiff was seriously injured. After skidding 60 feet along the asphalt, she suffered road rash on 50 percent of her body and sustained fractures to both her left arm and hand. Her hand and arm are now disfigured and scarred, and she’s been left with residual weakness in both the hand and arm, with medical bills totaling $50,000.

Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise Nationally

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports Maine’s motorcycle deaths comprise 11.2 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state, despite the fact that motorcyclists comprise just 3.6 percent of all motor vehicle registrations. State totals ranged from accounting for 7.1 percent of deaths in Alaska to nearly 23 percent in Nevada. Maine motorcycle accident deaths spiked 33 percent from 2016 to 2017 (based on preliminary numbers) from 18 to 24.

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After Maine traffic homicide investigators concluded that a 25-year-old set off a chain reaction motorcycle accident which turned deadly during an I-95 charity ride in September, two other riders are suing his estate for personal injury damages. The collision occurred in 2017, during an annual charity ride to collect Christmas toys for children throughout the state.

Our Maine motorcycle accident attorneys know that while group motorcycle rides can be fun and have commendable goals, they also seem to be more prone to these type of collisions. Chain reaction crashes usually occur when a cluster of vehicles are traveling too close together. When motorcyclists are riding in a group, the riders try to stick together. Primarily this is done for the social advantage, the feeling of solidarity, purpose and camaraderie. There might also be some advantages safety-wise to sticking together; too many drivers don’t look twice for motorcyclists in their blind spots, but a group of riders rumbling together down the road is harder to miss.

However, riders packed closely together are at risk of causing a chain reaction motorcycle crash that might harm fellow riders. Making matters more complicated is that it can often be difficult to parse who the at-fault party is or, if there are multiple parties, how much fault to assign each person.

As we recently reported on our Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As riders hit the road each spring, they face the highest risks of the year. And already this month, we have reports of a slew of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents throughout the state, including the death of a 24-year-old Portland man and a motorcycle crash in Acton that resulted in serious head injuries for a Barrington couple involved in a Saturday evening crash.

Our Maine motorcycle accident lawyers also note safety advocates are focused on the other two-wheel riders hitting the roads this spring. Like motorcycle accidents, the number of serious and fatal bicycle accidents in Maine spikes each year as the last of the snow melts. Coastal Journal reports the City of Bath will be among those promoting Bike to Work Week on May 14-18, which culminates in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18. Fitness advocates and environmentalists continue to promote cycling as a means of physical activity that offers environmental benefits and cost savings of up to $8,000 a year for those who regularly bike to work.

Maine Bicycle Accidents:  Men at Risk

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and a prime time for Maine motorists to commit to watching out for motorcyclists as the summer riding season begins.

Because, statistically speaking, an accident is likely to be a non-motorcyclist’s fault.

“When motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right of way,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A man whose 53-year-old wife died in a Maine motorcycle accident in 2014 has settled his claims against the construction contractor in Augusta that allegedly failed to inspect and repair a dangerous pothole that reportedly caused his wife to lose control of her bike.

The plaintiff had been riding a motorcycle separately from his wife in Augusta when he watched her strike the pothole and saw the bike go down. The couple had married just six weeks earlier, and they were traveling with another pair to see a home in Manchester they were preparing to purchase. His original wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2015 in Kennebec County Superior Court, and it initially named not just the construction company but also the state, the state’s department of transportation, the city of Augusta, and a number of other defendants.

In the end, claims against all defendants other than the construction company were dismissed. This likely had to do with the fact that any claim against government agencies can be tough to prove, due to concepts like sovereign immunity and the difficulty of proving these entities owed a duty of care to the individual in question. But, as this case revealed, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no other avenues of compensation worth pursuing.

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety reports more people have died so far in Maine motorcycle accidents than in all of last year. In total, 18 people died in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016, while as of the end of September 2017, 20 people had been killed in such crashes. 

The victims ranged in age from 25 to 81, and aside from two who were females, the overwhelming majority of riders affected were male. State statistics show more than half of the riders in fatal crashes weren’t wearing helmets. While Maine does have a motorcycle helmet law, M.R.S. 29-2083, it is not a universal helmet law, meaning only specific categories of riders are required to wear one. Those are operators and riders under 18, as well as those operating a motorcycle with a learner’s permit or within one year of completing the driving test or while riding as a passenger with someone who is required to wear a helmet.

In those situations, when it comes to personal injury litigation, this fact could be used to reduce the damages awarded to motorcycle accident victims. However, it does not in and of itself release negligent drivers from liability. Anyone injured in a motorcycle accident or survivors of those killed in motorcycle crashes – helmet or no helmet – should discuss their legal options with an experienced injury lawyer.

A 77-year-old motorcyclist recently died in a Maine motorcycle accident in Greene, after colliding with a pickup truck. 

Maine State Police report the pickup truck driver pulled out of a parking lot onto the road – and directly into the path of the motorcyclist. The truck was reportedly driven by a 40-year-old man who was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. There was no mention in news reports of a potential civil action for wrongful death, but that could be within the realm of possibility, assuming survivors of the victim have standing to bring such an action under Maine’s wrongful death statute.

The motorcycle accident underscores the risk of serious injury and death to older motorcyclists – the fastest-growing group on two wheels.

The road to recovery is ongoing for a Maine couple involved in an Orrington motorcycle accident in May. 

As reported by the Bangor Daily News, the 22-year-old motorcyclist lost control of his motorcycle while traveling on Route 15, crossing the center line and striking an oncoming vehicle head-on. He lost part of his leg. His girlfriend, 23, had been on the back of the bike and was thrown off. She suffered a serious traumatic brain injury and a broken leg. She had to undergo surgery to relieve the pressure of a brain bleed in her head. Although he lost his leg, it could have been worse had the car he hit not been driven by a 25-year-old with U.S. Army training, who applied a tourniquet. He knew he had less than three minutes to stop the man from bleeding to death, and his quick action was successful in preventing this from becoming a greater tragedy.

Now, families of the motorcyclist and his girlfriend have started a community page on social media, as well as a number of charity events, to help raise money for the ongoing cost of medical care and rehabilitation. Although the pair survived, their road to recovery will be extensive, likely requiring numerous more surgeries and extended stays in rehab.  Continue reading

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has remanded for further consideration a case in which a wife sued her husband for damages caused by his negligent operation of a motorcycle on which she was a passenger.

Although it often seems unthinkable outside of family court that spouses might sue one another, this case shows how most of the time, these claims are not personal. In the vast majority of situations in which relatives or friends are on opposites sides in civil litigation, it’s not the individual from whom they are trying to collect. Rather, it is the insurance company.

Here, plaintiff sought payment of medical bills and other expenses from the motorcycle insurance policy carried by her husband. But here in Maine, it is not possible to sue the insurance company for liability in an accident (except for when the insurer acts in bad faith). Instead, one must file a lawsuit against the insured. Continue reading

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