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Property owners owe a duty to guests to ensure they are not confronted with unreasonable risks and hazards that may jeopardize their safety. Depending on the role of the guest (i.e., a social visitor, a business invitee or a trespasser), the duty of care owed by the property owner will vary.stairs

Recently, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court – the highest in the state – handed down a ruling on a premises liability lawsuit that underscores the importance of expert witness testimony in some of these cases.

The case of Estate of Smith v. Salvesen is a tragic one. Plaintiff and his wife were in town as guests at a reception held at a local college for which they were benefactors. The pair stayed at a local inn. They were told their suite was on the second floor, but they did not realize it was actually a two-story suit, equipped with stairs in the bedroom that led to the lower level. Continue reading

Bad winter weather can be both worrisome and dangerous for motor vehicle travel. Many Maine drivers are old pros at winter driving. However, overconfidence, in and of itself, can lead to an accident. Reviewing safe driving tips often, is a great way to help reduce your family’s risk of a car accident this winter. Our injury lawyers in Bangor and Portlandsurge you to make safe driving a regular topic of conversation with family members, particularly young drivers and our senior citizens, who are most at risk on the road.

The North Country Now reported on a young driver who did not know how to handle his vehicle on a slippery road. His inexperience caused his vehicle to slide into a Potsdam Police vehicle, there were no injuries. The young driver was charged with failure to keep right and speed not reasonable and prudent.
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Maine’s Department of Transportation wants to remind all of us to be a ‘Road Model’ when driving on snowy and icy roads. The department urges drivers to be cautious around winter maintenance vehicles. Remember to never pass a snow plow; the road surface ahead of it will be in worse condition then what you are driving on. Give snow plows plenty of room, they often need to stop and change lanes. On-coming plows are usually plowing the centerline, so you will need to move to the right to give them room.

Let’s try to prevent a motor vehicle break down by following these Safercar winter driving safety tips:

-It is always a good idea to have your vehicle checked over by your mechanic before the winter season begins.

-The condition of your battery is very important because your battery power drops in cold temperatures. Make sure your voltage is sufficient because it takes more power to start your vehicle in colder weather.

-It is important to know that coolant freezes which would totally destroy your engine block. Have your mechanic check your coolant mixture to make sure that doesn’t happen.

-We all know how dirty our windows get in the winter. Keep your windshield washer reservoir filled at all times. It is a good idea to keep extra ‘no freeze’ fluid in your vehicle. Replace worn out or torn windshield wipers blades. Heavy duty blades will last longer in areas that get a lot of snow and ice.

-Have your snow tires installed in plenty of time, if you use them. If not, make sure your existing tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth. Good traction is vital when traveling on snow covered roads.

-You should know how your vehicle handles in winter weather; however, if your vehicle is new to you, practice before the big storm hits. If you get a few inches of snow go to a vacant parking lot and see how your vehicle handles. Know what kind of brakes you have, you apply steady pressure for anti-lock brakes and you gently pump others.
-If you must travel in bad winter weather check the weather forecast, traffic and road conditions. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going, and tell someone your route of travel and your estimated time of arrival. Try not to let your gas tank drop below half full. Keeping a full tank of fuel is extremely important if you should get stranded.

-Keep the following safety items in your vehicle during the winter months: blankets, extra clothes, snacks, charged cell phone, kitty litter (to help with traction), ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, and emergency warning signals.

When the forecast is calling for more snow this winter, be prepared if you find yourself driving on snow covered roads. The dangers of winter driving can be unpredictable so being prepared puts you ahead of the game.

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As reported in the Sun Journal on January 5, 2011

LISBON — A local driver was seriously injured when his car was hit head-on on Route 196 in Lisbon Center shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

Lisbon police Sgt. Scott Stewart identified the drivers as John Tobin, 62, Diane Smith, 46, and Adam Gamage, 31, all of Lisbon.

As reported in the Bangor Daily News on December 17, 2010

THOMASTON, Maine — A man was injured in a collision between a minivan and pickup truck Friday morning on Route 1 near the Lowe’s store.

At about 7:30 a.m., Kenneth Elwell Sr., 66, who was driving a Regional School Unit 13 van, pulled out of a feed store and in front of a pickup truck heading north in the turning lane on Route 1, police said.

The holidays can be a perfect storm of opportunity for motor vehicle accidents. Often, the weather creates poor road and driving conditions. People are in a rush to get from place to place. Alcoholic beverages are often part of celebrations.

This week, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration issued a press release kicking off the agency’s annual crackdown on holiday drunk driving. Secretary Ray Lahood encouraged local enforcement agencies to adopt the tough “No Refusal” enforcement strategy. States employing this policy allow officers to obtain quick warrants from judges for blood tests when a breathalyzer is refused. According to the Secretary “Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways . . . I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable.”

This holiday season, remember to drive safely and soberly. If you have been injured in an accident with an impaired driver, and have questions, 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 free consultation call 1-800-917-1784 or read more on our website, www.Peter-Thompson-Associates.com, on our car accident practice page.

As reported in the Kennebec Journal on December 9, 2010

AUGUSTA — A man was killed by a garbage truck early Wednesday morning on Sewall Street.

Augusta police Sgt. Mark Desjardin said Gary Astbury, 57, who lived on Sewall Street, died when he was struck by a Riverside Disposal truck. The call came in at 6:50 a.m., he said.

As reported in the Bangor Daily News on December 5, 2010, (full article text here) the coming session of Maine’s legislature is expected to take up discussion of Maine’s law against operating under the influence.

Recently in Michigan what is known as a “superdrunk” law took effect. The law increases the penalties for first-time offenders driving while more than twice the legal limit (currently 0.08 in Maine), or at a blood alcohol content of 0.17 or more. According to the report,

“[i]n 2009 there were 8,203 OUI arrests in Maine, according to the secretary of state’s office. That is nearly one arrest an hour every day all year. There were 1,496 arrests with drivers with over 0.19 percent blood alcohol content and 452 with over 0.25 percent blood alcohol content”.

Reported in the Portland Press Herald, November 16, 2010

PORTLAND — The man killed in a motorcycle crash this morning has been identified as Douglas Starbird, 52, of Oxford.

Starbird was driving on Skyway Drive toward Outer Congress Street, headed in the same direction as an Atlas Van Lines moving truck, when he collided with the side of the truck, then hit the pavement.

Reported in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday November 9, 2010

The 21-year-old driver of a pickup and his two teenage passengers are dead followng a crash in the midcoast town of Hope Monday night.

State Police say Daniel Dodge II, of Hope, died as did his passengers Misti Leach, 14 of South Thomaston and Katie Kelly, 17 of Rockland.

Reported in the Bangor Daily News, November 1, 2010

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A 24-year-old man who was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident Sunday was listed in critical condition at a Bangor hospital on Monday.

Robert Tardiff of Frenchville was flown by LifeFlight to Eastern Maine Medical Center after the accident, which occurred about 2:10 p.m. Sunday on Paradis Lane in Frenchville, Sgt. Forrest Dudley of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.