With various stay-at-home and social-distancing measures in place because of COVID-19, many of our neighbors have been spending more time outdoors. Taking an evening or early morning stroll, biking, or running have been popular activities during this time. Of course, more people outdoors also means that motorists need to be more cautious of people crossing streets and in bike lanes. Pedestrians also need to be safe while having fun or enjoying fresh air outdoors, but sometimes Maine pedestrian accidents happen even when all safety precautions are taken.

Based on a report from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, pedestrian crashes and fatalities in the state have remained consistent over the years. Additionally, based on a recent article, Maine has seen a rise in the number of pedestrian deaths since 2019, leading state authorities to establishing more concrete action items toward eliminating motor vehicle-related fatalities.

In an effort to address this public safety issue, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has begun offering grants to law enforcement in communities in the state with higher occurrences of pedestrian crashes. State authorities tasked with addressing the issue have observed various causes for the increase in numbers. Some constituents have reported that motorists driving too fast, going over speed limits. Others have urged local authorities to re-evaluate current speed limits and potentially lower them because these limits have discouraged people from wanting to take a walk or ride a bike because of safety concerns.

After a Maine motor vehicle accident, injury victims are likely suffering physically, emotionally as well as financially. One way to ease this burden is to pursue a claim for damages through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, challenges arise when the responsible party fled the scene of the accident or failed to provide their identifying information. In these cases, Maine treats the accident as a hit and run. It is important that Maine hit and run injury victims contact an attorney to help them through these complicated situations.

There are many reasons that a motorist may leave the scene of an accident. However, it typically occurs if the driver was engaged in some illegal activity, such as driving without a license, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, hit and run motorists may want to avoid paying damages or being named in a lawsuit. In some rare cases, the driver may be experiencing a medical event or not realize that they hit another vehicle or person.

In any event, hit and run accidents often result in more serious injuries and leave victims in a challenging position. Once the responsible party flees the scene, they can be difficult to identify and locate. Police may investigate the accident scene, review video footage, and interview witnesses; however, this investigation may fall short in some cases. In contrast, attorneys often work with a team of investigators and forensic experts that can help in recreating the scene of the accident. These resources provide clients with a higher likelihood of success in resolving their cases.

Although Maine medical malpractice cases often stem from the negligence of a physician, nurse, or similar healthcare provider, a significant portion of these complaints are based on allegations of dental malpractice. Like every other medical profession, a dentist’s negligence in treatment may cause patients to suffer irreparable damage. As such, over 30,000 patients in the United States have filed complaints against dentists and oral surgeons over the last ten years.

Maine law requires dentists to provide care that meets or exceeds the standards of the dental profession. Dentists must appropriately communicate their treatment plans, acquire informed consent, engage in appropriate record keeping, and provide safe and effective treatment. When a dentist fails to meet this standard, they may be liable for the damages that a patient suffers.

The National Society of Dental Practitioners compiled a list of the most common causes of dental malpractice in the country. The majority of claims stem from a dentist or their office’s failure to return a fee after promising an unfulfilled result, failing to acquire informed consent, their inaccessibility to patients, failure to refer, diagnose or treat a condition, prescribing incorrect medication, or making treatment errors.

Amidst COVID-19 concerns, parents are trying to find engaging, stimulating, and safe ways to keep their children occupied during the summer. One of the most popular activities that children can continue to participate in during this challenging time is swimming. However, Maine swimming pool accidents are a frequent and tragic occurrence, and pool owners and parents must understand the risks and liability of this activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), swimming accidents are the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 to 4. New data by the CPSC indicates that there has been a steady increase in pool- or spa-related fatal accidents, with nearly 400 deaths last year. Residential pool accidents account for over 70% of these deadly accidents. Additionally, the data reveals that there have been almost 7,000 pool or spa-related emergency department nonfatal child drowning visits between 2017 and 2019.

Maine pool owners, caregivers, and parents should adhere to pool safety guidelines to prevent these types of accidents. Pool Safely, a national public education campaign, provides individuals with steps to reduce these incidences. The instructions advise parents to never leave a child unattended near or in the water. Parents should designate an adult watcher to vigilantly watch children while they are around water. These individuals should refrain from reading, using their phones, or engaging in potentially distracting activities. Pool owners should install fences and self-latching gates, and their pools should comply with all federal safety standards.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal from a summary judgment motion entered in favor of an insurance company. According to the court’s opinion, a man owned a truck that was insured by the defendant and he used it to transport an intoxicated and delusional friend. While transporting him, the man’s friend jumped out of the moving truck, broke into the plaintiff’s home, and damaged their windows and property. The plaintiffs suffered injuries while attempting to restrain the intoxicated man.

The insurance policy on the man’s truck provided coverage for “the ownership, maintenance, or use of” his vehicle. The contract allows coverage for bodily injury to others and property damage resulting from an accident involving the insured vehicle. In 2014, the plaintiffs served the truck owner with a negligence complaint. The basis of the negligence complaint was that the truck owner assisted his friend in becoming intoxicated, took him for a drive instead of calling authorities, and followed his friend’s direction, driving him directly to the plaintiffs’ home.

The owner did not respond to the complaint, and the court entered a default judgment against him. In 2015, his insurance company received the complaint and hired counsel to defend the claim. During a damages hearing, the court found that the owner and his friend were jointly and severally liable. The plaintiffs then sought to apply the truck owner’s insurance policy to their award. The insurance company successfully moved for summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the court inappropriately concluded that the damages were not caused by an accident that involved the car owner’s vehicle.

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.

Recent video footage shows a troubling crash in which a Tesla car crashes into the top of an overturned truck laying on its side, according to one news article. The vehicle also failed to brake for the truck driver who was standing in the lane redirecting traffic. Thankfully, the truck driver jumped out of the way before he was struck. The driver of the Tesla stated that the car was in autopilot mode when the crash occurred. The driver did not manually brake until it was too late to avoid the collision. Those who are injured in a Maine car accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

Assuming that the autopilot was on, as it appeared, the footage raises questions of why the autopilot feature did not recognize a large obstacle in the road and why the car’s emergency braking system did not perceive the pedestrian. Even if autopilot was not on, the vehicle’s emergency braking and collision warning systems would not usually be off, unless it is manually disabled.

Although Tesla’s autopilot requires drivers to pay attention to the road at all times, it does not track their gaze, as some cars do. It is possible that the car failed to perceive the overturned truck because it was not used to seeing an overturned truck. But that does not explain why the vehicle failed to brake for the pedestrian. Tesla declined to comment on the article.

According to a recent news report, the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a spike of 71 cases of COVID-19 in the state. Approximately 57 of these new cases stem from an outbreak at a long-term care home in Cape Elizabeth. The facility primarily provides care and treatment to individuals who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. The director of the Maine CDC reported that the agency is working with the long-term care facility to address staffing concerns, infection control, and the cause of the outbreak. Moreover, the CDC provided the facility with additional personal protective gear and sanitizing materials.

The facility’s representative stated that they have complied with CDC guidance for over two months. The guidance includes control measures, visitor restrictions, and patient screening and healthcare worker screenings. They facility states that the first staff member to test positive passed a health screen just before her last shift. They are unsure whether the healthcare worker contracted the virus at the facility or introduced it into the center. One of the facility managers reported that on a Tuesday, no one at the facility exhibited symptoms, but by Thursday, half of the residents tested positive and were symptomatic. The majority of the positive staff were asymptomatic. Family members, many of whom are wishing to remain anonymous, are expressing concerns for their family members because they cannot accurately gauge how their family members are doing because of visitor restrictions.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the facility does not have a history of violations. However, it is clear that long-term care facilities and other Maine nursing homes should be engaging in additional measures to protect their residents, staff, and visitors. Even a slight deviation from the CDC’s guidelines can have a disastrous impact on residents’ lives and safety.

Like many states, Maine maintains a “dram shop” law that allows injury victims to recover compensation from a host or alcohol vendor who provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing an accident. Maine’s “Liquor Liability Act,” provides that vendors who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol may be liable for recklessly or negligently providing alcohol to someone who is intoxicated or under 21 years old.

Negligent alcohol service occurs when the server should have known that the patron was intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Recklessness occurs if the server served alcohol and knew the person was under 21 years old or drunk, and they disregarded a substantial and apparent risk of harm to the individual or another person. In these cases, the vendor may be liable for the intoxicated person’s negligent or reckless conduct towards another individual. Typical vendors in these cases are restaurants, bars, and pubs.

For example, a news report recently described an incident where a 19-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hitting a curb and flipping his Subaru onto its side. The driver did not suffer injuries, but two of his passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. The teenager was speeding, under the influence of alcohol and failed to obey road signs when the accident occurred. In a case like this, a social host or vendor who served the underage driver may be liable for the passengers’ injuries and damages.

Laws governing dog bite cases vary significantly from state to state, and there are many differences regarding attributing liability, filing notices, and applicable damages. Although many states follow the “one-bite rule,” Maine rejected the statute in 2001. Instead, Maine Statute section 3961, provides that an injury victim may hold a dog owner or keeper liable if the dog caused injuries to a person, damaged another’s property, or both, and the injury was not the fault of the victim. Depending on the circumstances of the dog bite, Maine will either apply the strict liability standard or negligence standard.

Under a strict liability theory, an owner or keeper of a dog who injures a person away from the owner’s property may be liable for damages. Thus, through strict liability, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper responsible, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In Maine, a dog’s “keeper” or “owner” is the person in control of a dog or another animal. A person becomes the keeper of a stray animal if the person feeds it for at least ten consecutive days.

In most cases, Maine applies the strict liability standard for dog bite cases. Therefore, the law does not allow for a reduction of damages because of the victim’s contributory negligence. Under this theory, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper liable, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In these cases, the law does not consider the victim’s contributory negligence in any damage calculations. In cases, where a dog causes injuries on the owner’s property, the dog bite victim must be able to establish that the owner failed to exhibit reasonable care in controlling the dog or preventing the victim’s injury.

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