Maine Town Faces Injury Lawsuit after Bus Crash

Two families are suing a Maine town after their children were injured in a van crash on Interstate 95.

Both families are seeking financial damages for payment of medical bills, the Bangor Daily News reported. The crash happened as 11 summer campers were on their way to a waterpark on August 10. The van crashed into a tree after the 21-year-old driver had what authorities described as a “medical emergency.”

An attorney for the town of Kittery said injury lawyers on behalf of the victims filed a notice of right to sue and inquired about the town’s liability insurance policy. The Portland Press Herald reported the driver had a history of epilepsy and may have experienced a grand mal seizure. An internal review showed the town failed to check his driving record before he was hired.

Our injury lawyers in Bangor and Portland know parents are concerned about their children being injured going to and from school. But statistic show accidents involving school transportation are much more likely to occur in these smaller shuttle vehicles or large passenger vans.

Maine is among the states with no laws governing the use of 12- or 15-passenger vans to transport students, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. These vehicles are often driven by operators who lack experience. They have a high center of gravity, are prone to rollover. and are easily overweighted, particularly when students are also carrying luggage and other gear.

Identifying responsible parties in the wake of these types of accidents can be critical to making an appropriate recovery.

Suing Government Entities in Maine

The Maine Tort Claims Act,  Title 14 Civil Court Procedure, provides governmental entities, including city governments, immunity from many types of civil tort claims seeking recovery of damages. However, Title 14 §8104-A provides exceptions, for bodily injury or death involving ownership, maintenance or use of various modes of transportation, include vehicles, trailers, aircraft, watercraft, snowmobiles and other machinery or equipment.  The act also caps damage awards in some instances, and requires notice to be given to the government entity within 180 days.

In general, a civil lawsuit alleging negligence must show a defendant failed to exercise ordinary care under the circumstances and that this failure of care was the cause of an individual’s injury. Ordinary care is that which a reasonable person would use. This can be the result of gross negligence, recklessness, willful or wanton conduct, or it can be the result of negligent hiring and retention. A civil claim may also allege negligent entrustment, provided plaintiff can show defendant (driver) had the right to control the vehicle.  Negligent entrustment alleges a vehicle’s owner knew or should have that entrusting the vehicle to a driver would create unreasonable risks. Under Maine law, it is possible to assert concurrent claims based on vicarious liability and negligence, e.g., negligent hiring, supervision, or entrustment. Fortin v. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, 2005 ME 57, 871 A.2d 1208.

If you are injured in Bangor or Portland, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources

Families of children hurt in Maine day care crash seeking medical damages, Sept. 5, 2018, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries

Back-to-School Safety Tips as Kids Head Back to Class in Bangor, Portland, Aug. 23, 2018, Peter Thompson & Associates


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