Articles Posted in Personal Injury

When seven were injured and one killed on a state fair ride in Ohio, officials with the Bangor State Fair initiated additional safety checks on a ride similar to the one that malfunctioned, to ensure there were no future tragedies. In fact, the Freak Out ride in Bangor is manufactured by the same company that made the ride in Ohio. A specialist is slated to check the ride before the fair opens, the operator told The Bangor Daily News, and the Bangor fire marshal’s office inspectors were dispatched to check all mechanical rides. personal injury lawyer

Fair injuries are not unique to Ohio. Right here in Maine, four children were injured in two separate incidents two years ago at the Waterville State Fair. In one incident, the Dragon Wagon ride resulted in three child injuries. The very next day at the same fair, a rider in a mechanical swing wasn’t properly secured in the ride, and fell out of the chair during the ride. Two people were later charged criminally in those incidents.

Deaths on carnival rides are relatively rare, but the problem, as noted by experts quoted in USA Today, is there are not enough safety regulations and too few inspectors. From now through mid-September is considered peak fair season, with state fairs popular in Maine and many other states. But the inspections may not be adequate to catch all the potential problems. For example, Ohio reportedly has eight inspectors in charge of permitting some 3,700 rides annually. The question then becomes how many hours of inspection does each ride get? One expert opined a thorough ride inspection takes between one and three days because the inspector must examine x-rays of the joints and welds.  Continue reading

Auto insurance policies generally cover sudden or unexpected injuries that involve an automobile. This doesn’t always necessarily mean that the only incidents that would be covered would be those involving a vehicle-on-vehicle collision while at least one of the cars is in motion. However, neither can it mean, according to a recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion, a Maine dog bite that did not specifically arise from the use of the automobile.dog

A similar case arose in 1987, with the same court deciding in Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Commercial Union Ins. that a gunshot wound incurred when a weapon in the back of a vehicle was accidentally discharged was not covered under the auto insurance policy.

In the more recent case, the dog in question was co-owned by two unmarried individuals. While the female co-owner of the dog had an auto insurance policy that covered her and her vehicle, the male co-owner was operating one of his employer’s cars to meet the plaintiff, who had purchased an old pickup truck from the dog owner’s son. The dog owner brought his dog with him in the car. While transferring the pickup truck, someone (it is disputed who exactly it was, but the issue isn’t material) opened the door to the vehicle with the dog in it. The dog, without leaving the vehicle, bit the plaintiff in the face.

A segway is known widely as being the primary mode of transportation for the goofy “Mall Cop” character Paul Blart. Segways, those two-wheeled, one-person motorized transportation devices, are typically seen as innocuous and easy-to-use, if a bit silly-looking. However, as recently reported by The Washington Post, summer Segway tours are increasingly popular throughout the country, including in Maine. But they pose dangers that might not be immediately obvious. As the Post reports, many tourists have suffered injuries as a result of Segway falls.segway sign

The Post detailed a case recently in which a reporter looked on as a group of four tourists tried out some final practice moves before heading out for a tour in Washington, D.C. However, one in the group crashed. The New Zealand tourist hit a small bump in the pavement, struck a wall with the handlebars, and then fell over onto the concrete. She immediately grabbed her knee in pain. She was helped into the building and later taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The reporter later learned she had suffered a broken leg and would need surgery upon her arrival back to New Zealand, which was going to occur much sooner thanks to the trip being cut short. In an email, her husband called it “a silly accident.”

However, as our attorneys know, these incidents may actually be a bit more complicated than that, both from a causation and liability standpoint. In fact, these devices may be more complicated to operate than they might appear at first blush. Currently, there are cases pending – some of them multi-million dollar claims – that involve injuries from falls off Segways.

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When nursing home abuse and neglect is suspected in Maine facilities – including those that provide care for vulnerable and disabled adults – it is expected that reports made to the Office of Aging and Disability Services will trigger an independent investigation by the state’s office of Adult Protective Services. However, it appears in a number of cases, that is not happening.old woman

The Bangor Daily News reports that five separate health care providers in a four-county area came forward and shared their referral numbers with the paper. Collectively, there were more than 550 allegations of suspected nursing home abuse, neglect, and exploitation over a four-year span ending in 2015. However, APS had final reports for just 40 of those.

It’s not clear whether the state is simply choosing not to investigate accidents or if the internal standards have changed. What health care providers are telling journalists, however, is that while they continue to file their referrals as suspected cases of abuse arise, they rarely anymore receive reports back from the state about the outcome or even existence of an investigation.

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A decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that a plaintiff should not be allowed to recover personal injury damages for the wrongful birth of a healthy baby. The child was reportedly conceived after the plaintiff had been implanted with a form of birth control that was inserted into the plaintiff’s arm. mother

The plaintiff gave birth to a boy, who was healthy, in the summer of 2014 when she was 21 years old. However, as she explained to the court, she had visited a health care center to weigh her options for birth control.

According to court records, the plaintiff’s doctor recommended the use of an implantable device manufactured by the defendant. It consisted of a single, four-centimeter-long rod that was to be inserted underneath the skin of the patient’s upper arm with an applicator that looked like a syringe. The drug was designed to prevent pregnancy for at least three years, unless the rod was removed sooner by a doctor. It works by blocking the ovulation process.

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A judge in Central Maine ordered two pit bull dogs euthanized after an August attack in Augusta resulted in the death of a much smaller dog and serious injuries to the deceased animal’s owner.pitbull

The owner of the two pit bulls, who also owns a dog grooming business, had advocated in the Capital Judicial Center to spare the dogs’ lives. During a two-day non-jury trial, the owner had been accused of two civil violations for keeping a dangerous dog. Title 7, Part 9, Chapter 727 of Maine Revised Statutes holds that a person who owns or keeps a dangerous dog commits a civil violation, for which the court must impose a fine of between $250 and $1,000 – none of which can be suspended. If someone is injured as a result of an attack by a dangerous dog, the court can order the identification and confinement of the dogs, as well as restitution paid by the dangerous dog’s owner. If a dog owner or keeper refuses or neglects to comply with a previous court order, and the dog wounds a person or domestic animal, the owner or keeper has to pay the injured person treble damages and costs that are recovered in a civil action.

Chapter 729 of the state’s revised statutes goes over injuries and damages caused by animals, holding in part that when an animal damages a person or property due to the negligence of the dog’s owner or keeper, the owner or keeper is liable in a civil action to the injured person for the amount of the damages caused, as long as the harm wasn’t occasioned by the fault of the injured person. The only time damages would not be owed to a person injured in a dog attack would be if the court finds the injured person’s fault exceeded that of the dog’s keeper or owner.

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently released a report that uncovered major holes in the state data collection on the financial abuse of seniors. This, investigators say, has made it all but impossible to accurately gauge the scope of a serious issue. The findings, including state-level data from Maine, were presented at the Senate Special Committee on Aging recently, with the goal of determining more effective ways to prevent, identify, and address instances of financial abuse and exploitation of seniors. The Committee Chairwoman is Susan Collins (R-Maine), an outspoken advocate on elder affairs and protection of the elderly.elder

Data collection on this issue is done at the state and local levels, so federal authorities up to this point haven’t had much influence. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to launch a data collection program that aims to help experts in curbing elderly exploitation. Even the information we do have suggests this is a major problem, with one 2015 study indicating the national annual financial loss from exploitation of elders is approximately $37 billion. Furthermore, these losses are occurring at a rate that study authors say is “alarming.” This newest GAO report, The Extent of Elder Abuse by Guardians is Unknown, but Some Measures Exist to Help Protect Older Adults, is the first time someone has looked closely at the issue of elder financial abuse since 2010, according to The Portland Press-Herald.

Although there is strong evidence to suggest that financial abuse of the elderly is most often perpetrated by adult children, nieces, nephews, and other relatives or guardians, exploitation by caretakers in nursing homes is another issue. It can be a direct indication of the facility’s failure to protect the resident, and it can also be a red flag that other forms of elder abuse are going on as well.

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The federal agency in charge of overseeing more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funds has taken a stand against the commonplace practice of forcing victims of nursing home abuse into resolving disputes via arbitration, rather than in court.gavel

Increasingly, provisions buried in the fine print of nursing home admission contracts have required residents to resolve quality of care disputes within this private system – out of public view. Not only are these proceedings confidential, but also they consistently favor the nursing home. Even when damages are awarded to plaintiffs, they are usually much less than what one would typically receive in a judgement issued by the courts. Arbitrators are chosen by the nursing homes, and there is an incentive for them to resolve cases in a way that minimizes the financial impact to the facility.

This, of course, is inherently unfair, and advocates for years now have been calling for the federal government to step in and curtail such forced arbitration. Now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, has taken a major step in restoring a key right of millions of vulnerable, elderly Americans. The agency’s new rule, hailed as the most significant in decades, holds that any nursing home that gets federal funding can’t deny residents and families the right to have their day in court.

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A woman from York County, Maine is suing a beef manufacturer headquartered in New Hampshire following an outbreak of E. coli that made her 9-year-old son so sick he had to be hospitalized. groundbeef

According to a report from SeaCoastOnline.com, plaintiff purchased the meat at a store in Kittery, and she prepared it for her son one day in June. Within five days, the boy began to experience a severe reaction that included vomiting, fever and diarrhea. These are typical symptoms of the food poisoning caused by an E. coli infection. The boy was rushed to a local hospital in York before being transferred for more intensive treatment at the Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.

The boy was one of more than a dozen people sickened by the outbreak tied to this particular farm, with other cases cropping up across Maine, as well as in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. It was ultimately the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service, alongside the Department of Health in New Hampshire, that traced the outbreak not just to this one farm but to a specific slaughter date. This prompted the farm to recall some 8,800 pounds of raw beef products that were deemed potentially contaminated.  Continue reading

As The Bangor Daily News recently reported, many local social service agencies actively promote awareness of the risk and prevention of elderly falls. wheelchair1

The National Council on Aging estimates that one in every three Americans over the age of 65 fall every single year, and a substantial number of those suffer serious injury, hospitalization and death. This is not only a problem for those in nursing homes, of course, but when it does occur in nursing homes, it can be a potential sign of neglect or abuse.

Falls in nursing homes are not supposed to happen and they can be a sign of neglect caused by under-staffing, poor training or failure to implement and follow proper patient safety guidelines. Nursing homes can and should be held liable when this happens.  Continue reading