Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Under Maine law, an individual who suffers injuries because of another’s negligence or reckless conduct may hold at-fault parties or entities responsible for their damages. In some cases, the other party may be responsible under both civil and criminal statutes. Generally, tort or civil claims involve situations where one or more parties’ negligence directly or proximately causes personal damages to another person. Whereas criminal conduct involves a wrong committed against society, in general. The difference between this conduct generally involves the method of wrongdoing, the actor’s intent, and the effect on society. However, in some cases, a tort activity may involve criminal conduct. In either case, a victim may be entitled to damages through civil awards or court-ordered restitution.

Court-ordered restitution is “monetary reimbursement ordered at the offender’s sentencing.” This reimbursement may include a combination of monetary compensation or services by an offender to the victim of a crime and the economic loss caused by the crime. Under the law, criminal courts cannot impose restitution for pain and suffering. In cases where restitution is a condition of an offender’s probation, a probation officer will monitor compliance. Also, the Maine Crime Victims’ Compensation Program may provide additional compensation for a victim’s expenses.

Victims must understand that criminal restitution does not negate their right to civil damages. Court-ordered restitution and civil damages serve different purposes. Victims who seek compensation through the civil system do not need to establish that the victim was guilty through the criminal system. Restitution is designed to rehabilitate the offender and deter future criminal behavior. In contrast, a civil judgment is aimed at compensating the plaintiff for their losses. Although civil plaintiffs can recover through restitution, this does not always cover the extent of the victims’ losses.

When you witness an accident, especially involving a close family member or loved one, it can often be a traumatic experience. Thankfully, the law provides various opportunities to recover in the wake of these incidents. When a bystander only hears — and does not see — an accident occur, however, the legal calculus can often become complex.

In a recent Maine Supreme Court opinion, a couple sued after an accident resulted in their son’s death. The plaintiffs had their own company and employed their son as a foreman. On the day of the accident, an employee of the defendant arrived at the plaintiffs’ home to deliver supplies. The delivery included multiple pieces of extremely heavy concrete. During delivery, one of the pieces fell off the forklift and landed on the plaintiffs’ son. The plaintiff’s father was in another part of the house when he heard a loud bang, followed by screaming. He ran to the scene and found his son lying face down with blood coming out of his mouth. After the concrete was removed, the plaintiff performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his son for thirty to fifty minutes. The plaintiff’s son never regained consciousness and died by the time EMTs arrived. For several hours after he died, his body remained in the yard of the plaintiffs’ home awaiting the official investigation.

Following the accident, the deceased’s father was unable to move back into his home because of emotional pain and threatened suicide several times to his wife. The couple was later divorced. The deceased’s father filed a bystander negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claim individually, and the deceased’s mother filed a loss of consortium claim against the defendant. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Losing a loved one in any type of accident is a tragedy that words cannot adequately describe. While nothing can bring back a loved one who was senselessly lost as the result of a preventable accident, family members may be able to ease the financial burden associated with such a loss through a Maine wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death claim is very similar to a traditional personal injury case in that the plaintiff, the deceased accident victim’s loved ones, must prove that the defendant was legally responsible for their loved one’s death. To prove a Maine wrongful death case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed their loved one a duty of care and that the defendant’s actions violated that duty. Additionally, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s violation of this duty was the legal and proximate cause of death. Wrongful death cases in Maine must be filed within two years of the accident victim’s death.

If a plaintiff is successful in a wrongful death claim, they can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the out-of-pocket expenses associated with the plaintiff’s loss, including medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages include “loss of comfort, society, and companionship of the deceased, including any damages for emotional distress.” Notably, non-economic damages are generally limited to $750,000. In some cases, punitive damages can be awarded. Punitive damages are intended to punish the exceptionally egregious behavior of the defendant and are capped at $250,000.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Maine wrongful death case discussing whether a business owner can be held liable for the intentional, violent acts of a third party, and if so, under what circumstances. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed by the lower court because the plaintiff failed to show that the assault was foreseeable.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a woman was shopping at the defendant supermarket when another female customer approached the woman and attacked her with a knife. The woman died as a result of the attack, and her husband subsequently filed a Maine wrongful death claim against the supermarket, claiming that it was negligent in protecting his wife from the assault.

Evidently, the woman who stabbed the plaintiff’s wife was known in the community, as well as by store management. In fact, there had been several reports that the woman was acting menacingly in front of the store; however, there had been no reports that she ever threatened a customer. And no store employee ever saw her with a weapon. However, customers would occasionally complain that the woman’s physical presence alone was intimidating (apparently, she wore very baggy clothes and had a shaved head). At one point, the woman was banned from the store.

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One woman was killed and another seriously injured when two vehicles were involved in a Maine car accident near St. Albans. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred on Palmyra Road at a time when there were wet road conditions. It is unclear if it was actively raining at the time of the crash. Evidently, a 20-year-old woman driving a 2002 Toyota Camry was traveling southbound on Palmyra Road when she inexplicably drifted across the center median into oncoming traffic. As the Camry crossed into traffic, it collided head-on with a Toyota Corolla being driven by a 65-year-old woman.

The older woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and the younger driver was seriously injured, including a broken leg. Neither vehicle contained any passengers. Authorities attribute the crash to the wet road conditions, as well as the fact that they believe the driver of the Camry was speeding at the time of the accident. According to the police, both of these factors contributed to her losing control of the vehicle. An investigation is still underway to determine if criminal charges will be brought against the Corolla’s driver.

Maine Wrongful Death Claims

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.

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