Maine Storefront Crash Results in Injury

A driver was recently critically injured following a three-car crash that ended with one vehicle slamming into the front of the Gothic building in downtown Belfast, an hour south of Bangor. 

According to The Bangor Daily News, officers believe an older man in a Sedan with Massachusetts plates was speeding down the hill on Maine Street around 1 p.m. when he suddenly crossed into opposing traffic and slammed into a van at a five-way intersection. He then drove straight into a parked vehicle and then into the front of a building. The parked vehicle was also sent flying up over the curb, just in front of the Bangor Savings Bank.

The occupants of that parked vehicle – which included a toddler in his car seat – were not seriously injured. 

The fact that no one inside these structures was injured is very good news, especially considering how often these types of storefront crashes happen in Maine and across the country.

Just recently in Massachusetts, the family of a 43-year-old wife and mother killed in a storefront crash in 2010 was awarded $32.4 million against the convenience store in which she was standing when an elderly driver came crashing through the front doors from the street. The case, Dubuque v. Cumberland Farms, involved the purported negligence of the privately-held convenience store chain – the largest in the country – to protect patrons with appropriate barriers and bollards around its perimeter.

Although defendant store argued adamantly they could not have foreseen this crash (it was caused by a driver suffering a medical emergency) because there had never been any similar crash at that location before.

However, what plaintiff attorneys were able to point out was that about 485 “car strikes” had been reported by the chain’s 500 facilities from 2000 to 2009. Of those, there were 109 sites that had “multiple strikes.” The projected cost to outfit all 537 sites with concrete bollards to protect customers, workers and pedestrians would have been about $1.8 million.

Meanwhile, the chain had already paid $2.1 million in personal injury lawsuit claims in connection with these car strikes. Further, there had been approximately $1.6 million in property damage resulting from these incidents.

So to allege this was not an issue about which the chain was aware is simply false. Additionally, for the chain to assert it didn’t owe a duty of care to customers to protect them from a reasonably foreseeable danger is also not true under the principles of premises liability.

The Storefront Safety Council reports there are 60 “car strikes” every single day across the U.S. Every year, these incident results in as many as 4,000 injuries and 500 deaths. What that tells us is these incidents aren’t especially rare.

Defendants may argue – as this defendant did – that there is no law that requires bollards to be installed (some local ordinances may vary). That might be true, but that does not absolve property owners of the responsibility to ensure customers and pedestrians on site are safe.

Bollards are a simple fix and they are largely effective. Failure to install them – particularly when an unprotected storefront with large windows is adjacent to traffic or a parking lot – could well be a form of negligence.

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.

Additional Resources:

Driver injured after plowing into Belfast’s Gothic building, other cars, March 26, 2016, By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Car Accident Lawsuit Reaches Supreme Judicial Court, March 25, 2016, Bangor Injury Attorney Blog

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