Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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

The 23-year-old man was allegedly driving so drunk, his blood-alcohol level was 0.21 – nearly three times the legal limit for a driver of legal drinking age – when he crashed his vehicle, killing one of his passengers and critically injuring another.booze

That crash occurred on Annis Road in Bangor in June. Now, the driver has been indicted on charges of manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence.

The decedent was a 20-year-old from Hermon. Another 20-year-old, a female also from Hermon, was seriously injured in the single-vehicle crash, as was defendant driver. At defendant’s first court appearance in late July, defendant’s bail was set at $20,000 cash. He was released later that day after that bail was posted. Now, he faces up to 40 years in prison on all charges, plus fines of up to $70,000. He may also lose his license for six years. The terms and conditions of the bail require he have no contact with any of the witnesses or victims, and he’s also not allowed to consume alcohol or drugs for which he does not have a prescription. He must undergo drug testing and abide by an 8 p.m. curfew.

However, none of that brings back the life of the man lost. None of that helps the surviving victim recover from her injuries. Continue reading

Kathy Day, a nurse from Maine, said she has always striven to be an advocate for patients. But that drive became a passion after the death of her 83-year-old father. He died weeks after suffering a hospital-acquired infection while he was being treated for a broken leg.stethascope0

After breaking the small bone in his lower leg, he spent nearly two weeks in the hospital. Upon his return home, he seemed fine, other than the fact he needed to use a walker. But the next day, he awoke and was so sick, he could barely sit up in his own bed. He had a high fever. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined he had contracted MRSA pneumonia while he’d been recovering from the leg fracture. He ended up developing sepsis, which led to organ failure.

The family later learned two other patients had died of MRSA infections following surgery. Yet at no point were patients or family members informed of the risk or of steps to take or things to watch for in order to reduce the possibility of an infection.

The family of a 16-year-old boy killed in a Maine ATV accident last summer has filed a civil lawsuit against the family of another 16-year-old who was driving the car with which he collided. ATVtracks

According to the crash report, the decedent was operating the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) behind the vehicle driven by h is 16-year-old friend. They were traveling the same direction when the ATV operator attempted to overtake the car. As he crossed back into the northbound lane, the ATV and car collided, causing the ATV to overturn and the rider to be ejected.

Decedent was not wearing a helmet and died of his injuries.