Authorities say charges are likely in a Maine distracted driving crash that inflicted life-threatening injuries on a pregnant woman and her young child. Two other young children in the vehicle were treated at a hospital and released. The 29-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son were listed in critical condition initially, and later in stable/fair condition. It is not clear whether the woman’s unborn child survived.
The Portland Press Herald reports that police in Fryeburg are continuing their investigation of the collision on Route 302, which the police chief told media was likely caused by distracted driving. It’s unclear what type of distraction was allegedly at issue.
Portland distracted driving accident attorneys recognize that these types of crashes devastate individuals and families, not just physically and emotionally, but financially. Although this may be easier to quantify in the form of lost wages if a person is a working parent, even stay-at-home parents provide invaluable contributions to their families, who may suddenly not only be forced to find alternative means of child care and new living arrangements but also often more work to cover the significant costs involved with hospitalization, serious injury or death.
In Maine, there are three distracted driving laws. The first is codified in Maine Motor Vehicle Statutes Title 29-A S2116. This law prohibits the use of any handheld electronic devices or mobile telephones by anyone under the age of 18. It’s a $50 fine for a first offense and up to a $250 fine for second or subsequent offenses. There is also Title 29-A S2118, which prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while distracted by a person who is engaged in activity “not necessary to the operation of the vehicle” that further impairs or would reasonably be expected to impair the ability of the person to operate the vehicle safely. A person who commits a traffic infraction of failure to control a motor vehicle while distracted can be charged with driving to endanger, as explained in S2413. This is a Class E crime of criminal negligence, and a defendant can be subject to aggravated punishment and a Class C crime if so doing causes an auto accident that seriously injures another person. Penalties can include up to a two-year driving suspension and a hefty fine. Lastly, there is Title 29-A S2119, which deals specifically with texting while driving, which is prohibited. Violation can mean a fine of $250 or more than $500 if the offense involves a traffic infraction.
These processes are separate and apart from any injury or wrongful death claim made, though Portland injury attorneys recognize that evidence collected in the course of that investigation can prove useful – particularly if a defendant is found guilty of criminal negligence. In civil court, negligence requires showing that:
- A defendant owed a duty of care;
- That duty was breached;
- The breach caused one’s injuries;
- Injuries resulted in financial loss.
In many of these cases, insurance companies responsible to pay the damages for a negligent driver’s wrongdoing will see the facts to be straightforward and simply pay the claim – no lawsuit necessary. However, one cannot assume the process will be easy, fast or simple. Particularly in a situation where someone is seriously hurt or killed, it’s important to contact an auto accident attorney in Portland with extensive experience in protecting the rights of victims and their families.
If you are the victim of a car accident in Maine, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Charges expected in Fryeburg crash that injured pregnant woman, child, Sept. 17, 2018, By Gillian Graham, Portland Press Herald
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New Car-Seat Regulations Reduce Toddler Injury Risks, Sept. 12, 2018, Portland Car Accident Attorney Blog