Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Earlier this month, three individuals were tragically killed in a car accident in Acadia National Park. According to a news report covering the accident, the driver had been drinking late into the evening on the night in question, yet mistakenly thought that he was able to drive. While specific details about the accident are not yet known, the report indicates that the driver, while traveling faster than the 25 miles per hour speed limit, lost control of his vehicle on a curve and then hit a tree.

The driver called 911 after the crash, and officials immediately responded. Three victims were identified, ages 27, 30, and 36. Law enforcement recently charged the driver with three counts of manslaughter, one for each victim.

Unfortunately, traffic deaths resulting from car or truck accidents are not uncommon and are a huge cause for concern in Maine. According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, traffic deaths in 2019 are up 24% from 2018. Before this tragic accident occurred, 105 people had been killed on Maine roads in 2019 so far. These deaths can result in criminal charges, potentially carrying fines and jail time for the driver, but the filing of criminal charges does little to help the accident victims, or their families, deal with the expenses incurred in the accident’s aftermath.

Losing a loved one in any kind of accident is a tragic, life-altering experience, especially when the accident resulting in your loved one’s death was preventable. While nothing can bring a family member back, or ease the pain caused by such a loss, aggrieved family members may find some solace in holding the responsible party accountable through a Maine wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death claim is a type of Maine personal injury claim in which the personal representative of the accident victim brings a claim against the parties believed to be responsible for the accident victim’s death. Wrongful death cases are commonly brought after fatal Maine car crashes, workplace injuries, or other tragic, preventable accidents.

This year, the Maine Legislature reorganized the state’s probate code, which contains the wrongful death act. Before July 1, 2019, wrongful death actions were brought under Maine Revised Statutes Title 18-A section 2-804; however, moving forward these claims are controlled by Title 18-C section 2-807. For the most part, the laws governing wrongful death cases are unchanged, with a few minor differences related to how courts distribute wrongful death damages awards.

A new report detailing the vast expanse of dangerous bridges in the U.S. from coast-to-coast is startling, especially if you live in Maine, where 352 of 2,450 bridges were identified as having serious structural deficiencies. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent bridge inventory analysis classified more than 47,000 bridges nationally “structurally deficient” and “in poor condition.” The American Road & Transportation Builders Association notes that if we were to lay these structures end-to-end, they’d stretch from Houston to Chicago.

Bangor car accident attorneys know that when someone is injured or killed because of dangerous transportation infrastructure, the question of liability may be complicated. You’ll need an experienced, well-resourced law firm to help you untangle the question of who is responsible – and further to hold them legally accountable for damages.

The Scope of U.S. Decaying Traffic Infrastructure

TheTrucker.com’s report on the new data estimated more than 178 million trips are made in cars, school buses, tractor-trailers, and motorcycles across these defective roads and bridges daily. Continue reading

A fatal car accident in Prospect resulted in the deaths of two men and, now, the felony conviction of a man suspected – but not proven – to have been the negligent driver of that vehicle. Bangor car accident attorneys know the case represents some unique elements from a wrongful death litigation perspective, due to the fact the person who was driving was not conclusively decided.

According to The Bangor Daily News, the 2016 crash involved a pickup truck on North Searsport Road on an afternoon in September 2016. What authorities know for certain is there were three occupants in that vehicle at the time the truck slammed into a utility pole, causing the truck to roll over several times, ejecting all three from the vehicle. Investigators determined speed was a major factor in the crash, but several crash scene reconstruction experts called to investigate for the prosecution and defense were unable to determine who was driving at the time of the collision – the 33-year-old surviving defendant or one of the two men who died, ages 59 and 35. Defendant, who suffered serious head injuries in the collision, cannot remember who was behind the wheel. Investigators know that defendant had been driving at other times during that day. Blood found on the driver’s side airbag was determined to belong to the surviving defendant, prompting serious felony charges of manslaughter and other crimes. However, an expert later determined the blood on the airbag most likely came form the person sitting in the center, not the driver. The more serious charges were dropped, but defendant was still charged with operating without a license as a habitual offender (resulting in a 3.5 year prison sentence) and violating conditions of his release (six months, to be served concurrently).

As for a Maine wrongful death lawsuit, a case where the driver cannot be identified poses some challenges. Still, our Bangor wrongful death car accident attorneys know there may be a number of potential options for compensation.

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.

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.

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 the 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. 

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.

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. 

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

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