Drunk driving in Maine causes more wrongful deaths than any type of violent crime. In 2014, law enforcement officials reported 25 people died by homicide, while 50 died in drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s double. Impaired driving accounts for more than a third of all motor vehicle fatalities in this state. What’s more, the problem appears to be getting worse. The number of operating under the influence deaths in Maine spiked from 44 to 50 in a single year – an increase of nearly 14 percent. Many hundreds more are injured.
We saw it once again in the community of Strong, about 1.5 hours from Bangor. According to the Kennebec Journal, police are reporting a fiery, head-on collision that killed one driver, injured two passengers, and sent another motorist to a Farmington jail on an OUI charge – a class B felony for operating under the influence resulting in death.
The collision was reported at around 7:45 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, when authorities received a call about a traffic accident and possible entrapment on Lambert Hill Road. Authorities arrived to discover two pickup trucks that had collided head-on and were both in flames. The allegedly drunk driver, 24, managed to escape his vehicle, as did his two passengers, although they were injured. However, the driver and sole occupant of the other truck was not able to get out. Fire officials were only able to retrieve his body once they had extinguished the flames.
Although investigators are still trying to piece together what occurred, early analysis indicates the young driver was heading downhill at a high rate of speed when he reportedly crossed the center line and struck the pickup traveling in the opposite direction. Both trucks burst into flames upon impact.
The allegedly at-fault driver could face additional charges.
Maine statutes do allow those who have been injured or the survivors of those killed in OUI accidents to recover damages from the impaired driver or their auto insurer and possibly other third parties. Our Bangor wrongful death attorneys may seek damages in these cases for:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of consortium (sought by loved ones);
- Past, present, and future medical expenses;
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs;
- Lost wages;
- Lowered earning capacity; and
- Funeral expenses.
Although drunk driving deaths occur throughout the year, we are fast approaching a time when we often see increased risks: the holidays. It’s a treacherous time on roadways as friends and families travel long distances to gather. There are also numerous holiday parties and meet-ups where motorists are more likely to imbibe.
Although July 4th is widely accepted as the deadliest holiday of the year in terms of motor vehicle fatalities, the most-traveled holiday period is Thanksgiving weekend. DUI arrests are much higher than average between Thanksgiving Eve (the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving – one of the busiest nights for bars) and New Year’s Eve weekend.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports 40 percent of all fatal crashes between Christmas and New Year’s Eve involve drunk drivers, which is 12 percent higher than the rest of the month of December. While the NHTSA reports the average number of fatalities daily in December is 36, it increases to 45 during the three-day period around Christmas and goes up to 54 over the New Year’s Eve holiday.
Our injury attorneys recognize that these crashes are 100 percent preventable and hope that more drivers will take their responsibility more seriously and exercise greater caution over these next several weeks.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
One person dead, another charged with OUI after fiery Strong crash, Oct. 26, 2016, By Lauren Abbate, CentralMaine.com
More Blog Entries:
Graf v. State Farm – Maine Auto Insurance Dispute Weighed by State High Court, Oct. 17, 2016, Bangor Wrongful Death Lawyer Blog