Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A family is mourning the tragic loss of their infant after a reported attack on the child by the family’s dog. The Bangor Police Department reported emergency responders were called to the family home about an injured infant, who was transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center. Sadly, the child died of those injuries about a week later.dog

The death is under investigation by police. This devastating incident underscores the fact that of the 4.5 million dog bites reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year, it is children who are the most at risk.

While there are almost always a handful of Maine dog bite attacks reported annually, they are not often fatal. Six years ago in Frankfort, a seven-month-old infant was mauled to death by the family’s Rottweiler while at home with her mother and toddler brother. Then, in Corinna last year, a seven-year-old was killed in an attack by a pit bull while playing outside his father’s home.

In the criminal justice system, only those with actual involvement in the crime will be held to account. But in the civil justice system, victims of violent criminal attacks may seek compensation from third parties in some circumstances – even if the third party had no part in the facilitation of the crime. A Maine negligent security lawyer can help bring this type of claim.grocery store

Primarily, this occurs in situations in which a property owner or venue had a duty of care to protect customers or occupants, but it failed to do so. Even though a property owner isn’t necessarily aware that a particular crime is about to be carried out, some offenses may be foreseeable, based on:

  • A pattern of prior similar occurrences on or near that property;

A horrific highway shooting death in Pennsylvania sparked a dispute between the parents of the victim and several auto insurance companies based in Maine. Our Maine wrongful death lawyers found it instructive to explore.

The victim was shot and then run off the road while driving on thegun interstate. He later died of his injuries. His assailant was initially unknown, although the incident was first believed to be a result of road rage. Later, however, the gunman was identified, and it was revealed the shooter mistook the victim for another man, whom the defendant was targeting – the paramour of a woman he’d been stalking. Authorities also suspected him of killing that woman in West Virginia the day before, and he was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The question, then, was whether the decedent’s parents, as his personal representatives, could collect uninsured motorist benefits from several auto insurance carriers. Uninsured motorist benefits exist to provide coverage when someone is involved in an accident with another driver who either does not have insurance or is not identified. But the key issue in this case was the way in which the policies defined “accident.”

Lawmakers in Maine are weighing whether to amend the state’s wrongful death statutes to allow claims for the deaths of unborn children. The proposal would specifically exempt physicians who conduct legal abortions, although some pro-choice advocates say the law would nonetheless undercut women’s reproductive rights. pregnant woman

Supporters of the measure opine it’s an avenue for family members to seek financial redress when a fetus dies as a result of neglect, default, or some wrongful act – by a driver, a doctor, a manufacturer, or another party. Those opposed to the measure say it isn’t necessary under state law, and the true purpose is to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.

The bill, L.D. 327, would give families the opportunity to seek damages in probate court under wrongful death statutes if a fetus that is viable (i.e., has reached at least 24 weeks of age) dies as a result of someone else’s negligence. This would not be a unique move. In fact, 40 other states – including all of the other states in New England – provide some avenue for family members to seek financial compensation if an unborn baby dies because of another party’s wrongdoing or neglect.

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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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In most situations wherein someone’s injury or death is caused by the negligence of another, a civil lawsuit may be in order. However, if the injured party was working or acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident, the case could become more complicated. truckoverbridge

Workers’ compensation laws in Maine contain something known as an exclusive remedy provision. This means that the only remedy one has against his or her own employer for work-related accidents, injuries and illnesses is workers’ compensation, which typically covers medical bills and a portion of lost wages, but nothing else. There can sometimes be grounds for a third-party lawsuit against others aside from the employer. There are also situations in which entities wrongly label themselves as “employers” when in fact they are not, in which case litigation is still appropriate.

These are matters that must be handled by an experienced Portland injury lawyer.  Continue reading

A baby girl was killed in a Maine car accident on the state turnpike in Wells. Four other people were injured in the crash, according to The Portland Press Heraldcarseat1

It was about 4 p.m. Heavy rains poured onto the roadway. A 22-year-old woman was at the wheel. The 11-month-old baby girl was in the back seat.

The driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle, slammed into guardrails and then came to rest along the tree line on the southbound side of the turnpike. The girl’s mother, 21, had been in the front passenger seat of the car. She and the driver were transported to the Maine Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries.

Two other children in the vehicle – a 3-year-old girl and a 4-month-old boy – survived with minor injuries. Those two, identified as the offspring of the driver, had been buckled into proper child safety harnesses. The 11-month-old girl had also been buckled into a child safety seat in the back. However, she nonetheless suffered fatal head injuries. She was transported to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries.  Continue reading

The family of a motorcycle accident victim who died after falling six stories from his hospital room window says he was not suicidal. Disoriented? Yes. He was suffering from brain injuries, his daughter said. He wanted to go home. hospitalsign

But the hospital had a duty to make sure he was safe and not a danger to himself.

Determining whether his fatal injuries were the result of general negligence or medical malpractice will be part of what the family’s recently-hired injury lawyer will be exploring.  Continue reading

The surviving husband of a 67-year-old woman who died as a passenger in a Maine car accident has filed a lawsuit to recover damages from the two drivers involved in the wreck. One of those drivers is a young, uninsured motorist who was without a license at the time of the crash. The other is his late wife’s sister. drivefastsaab

Although it may seem unsettling that one would take legal action against a relative, especially one who has likely already suffered such trauma, there is a very practical reason for such action. It has to do with insurance coverage and the fact that the 22-year-old driver who struck the two women didn’t have any.

Meanwhile, decedent and her sister were covered by uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These coverage forms will provide coverage when the at-fault driver(s) either don’t have any insurance or when the insurance available isn’t enough.  Continue reading

When serious or fatal injuries are caused by another person’s negligence, the victim and/or surviving family have a right to pursue compensation for their losses. However, when the injuries sustained are the result of an intentional act, collecting becomes a more complicated matter. The reason is that while victims are still entitled to damages insurance companies often have policy exclusions for intentional criminal acts resulting in injury or death. That often leaves a plaintiff’s only recourse collection directly from the wrongdoer. group

In many instances, that individual lacks the resources and assets to adequately compensate the victim(s). That doesn’t necessarily mean it is not worth it to pursue such a case, but the viability must be carefully weighed.

Recently, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court considered a lawsuit against a homeowners’ insurance company brought by the family of a man killed by another on property belonging to attacker’s grandmother. In Metro Prop. & Cas. Inc. Co. v. Estate of Benson, the court was asked to consider whether insurer could be liable for wrongful death despite its intentional tort exclusion in the policy. Continue reading

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