During busy travel months in the summer, more cars than ever are on the road as families head on road trips across the country. Often, no matter how much caution you exercise, factors beyond your control can make roads unsafe. For example, even on a day with clear skies and plenty of daylight left, external elements affecting other drivers such as exhaustion, fatigue, or driving under the influence could render roads extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately, Maine is no stranger to drivers who operate motor vehicles under the influence. According to recent statistics, 30.7 percent of total driving fatalities in 2018 were alcohol-impaired fatalities. In comparison, the national average for 2018 was 28.8 percent. With this in mind, it is crucial that Maine drivers remain vigilant and proactive, but also know what their legal options are if they are hit by a negligent or reckless driver under the influence.

According to a recent news report, a tractor-trailer crash shut down part of a local interstate and the driver is now facing several drug-related charges. The crash took place when a tractor-trailer hauling pantry staples veered off the right side of the road and collided with rock ledges framing the interstate. The tractor-trailer then rolled on its side and came to a stop with its cab partially in the right lane. Local authorities evaluated the driver, who was deemed impaired by Maine State Police and was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, driving to endanger, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

Earlier this week, a collision in Portland, ME nearly claimed the life of a Portland woman. According to a recent news report, the collision occurred on Interstate 295, near mile marker 6. Evidently, at around 1:30 am, police began receiving reports of a car traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of I-295.

Before police could respond to the calls, they received another report of a head-on collision in Falmouth, just a few miles from where callers reported seeing the wrong-way driver. The woman who was heading southbound was taken to the hospital in serious condition. She is expected to recover.

Police are still investigating the accident, however, they told reporters that they believe the wrong-way driver was intoxicated. He now faces aggravated DUI charges.

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Although traffic signals and signs usually provide instruction on what to do while driving, some rules of the road aren’t always posted. Right-of-way laws, for example, are important rules every driver should be familiar with but are not necessarily always reflected in signage. Knowing when to yield and having familiarity with right of way laws is essential to keeping both pedestrians and drivers safe on our roads and avoiding Maine car accidents.

According to a recent news report, a local woman was critically injured after a failure to yield accident. A preliminary investigation of the crash site by local authorities indicated that the driver of a Buick failed to yield to oncoming traffic at an intersection. The Buick struck a pickup truck that was traveling east. While attempting to swerve around the Buick, the pickup truck crashed head-on into another car traveling in the opposite direction. Local authorities noted that failure to yield and speed were likely both contributing factors to the accident.

In Maine, right-of-way laws are straightforward and easy to understand. Generally, when Maine drivers fail to yield the right of way, four demerit points are assigned to the individual’s license. In addition, each offense is attached to a $50 fine with an $85 surcharge regardless of how many violations have accrued. If violations take place repeatedly, drivers risk getting their license suspended.

Every year thousands of people suffer injuries because of dangerous or defective products. In some cases, the products have been on the market for years before consumers become aware of the dangers. Those who have suffered injuries because of a product defect should contact a Maine product liability attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Maine product liability lawsuits typically stem from defective manufacturing, defective design, or inadequate marketing. Claims involving failure to warn typically fall under marketing defect claims. Historically, the most well-known product liability lawsuits fall under failure to warn claims. For example, the monumental lawsuits against asbestos and tobacco manufacturers fall under a failure to warn theory.

A marketing defect is a danger created by a manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers of the potential hazards of using a product. Under state and federal laws, manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers of common dangers and risks associated with using their products. The company must clearly convey these warnings to consumers on the product’s labels or inserts.

While every motorist is taught the importance of following the speed limit and being courteous to other drivers, when people get stressed, they tend to engage in dangerous driving behavior that puts everyone on the road at risk. Indeed, speeding and other forms of aggressive driving are some of the leading causes of preventable car accidents in Maine, as well as across the country.

Recently, one man was killed in a Maine car accident that authorities are chalking up to aggressive driving. According to a local news report, the collision took place on Interstate 95 at around 10 in the morning. Evidently, a motorist was driving in the left-most passing lane on I-95 as he was attempting to pass a slower-moving pick-up truck. However, as he was in the process of overtaking the pick-up truck, another driver whipped in front of him, cutting him off.

The two vehicles collided, and the aggressive driver lost control of his vehicle, which rolled several times before coming to a stop in the median. The driver was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. Emergency crews took the man to the hospital, where he sadly died from his injuries. The driver who was in the process of passing the pick-up truck was not injured.

It is fair to say that most drivers in the United States understand the dangers associated with using a mobile device while operating a vehicle. However, despite the well-known dangers of distracted driving, motorists continue to reach for their phones while driving. In response to the growing concern of distracted drivers, Maine enacted distracted driving laws that carry significant penalties. Additionally, those who have suffered injuries in an accident with a distracted driver may pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.

Texting and driving are responsible for nearly 400,000 traffic accident deaths every year in the country. Although drivers of all ages engage in this risky behavior, teenage drivers are more likely to cause an accident because of distracted driving. Texting and driving is a somewhat recent phenomenon, but the concept of distracted driving predates mobile devices. Historically distracted driving involved cases where the at-fault driver was changing the radio, conversing with a passenger in the back seat, eating, or putting on makeup. However, those actions are nowhere near as deadly as texting and driving.

Texting and the need to respond quickly can be a compulsion that requires a driver’s visual, gross motor, and cognitive attention. A texting driver uses all of those skills on texting instead of paying attention to the roadway. Maine’s distracted driving statute focuses primarily on novice drivers and a ban on texting for all motorists. The law prohibits teenage drivers from interacting with a cell phone or handheld device while driving a vehicle. Those who fail to abide by this law risk causing a serious accident.

Police pursuits are often necessary to apprehend a suspect; however, these chases can put many innocent people in harm’s way. Maine car accidents involving police pursuits can result in serious injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. While the Bureau of Justice reports that most jurisdictions maintain restrictions on police pursuits, these incidents often occur and cause plenty of accidents.

For instance, a recent news report described a Maine police pursuit involving the driver of a stolen pick-up truck. According to the report, law enforcement began chasing the driver of an allegedly stolen pick-up truck. Troopers stopped the chase when they approached heavy traffic in a construction zone; however, they continued the pursuit afterward. Police used a spike mat to try and stop the truck, but the driver swerved and slammed head-on with a passenger vehicle. Three adults in the passenger vehicle suffered injuries and were taken to a local hospital. The pick-up truck’s driver and passenger also suffered injuries. Authorities charged the truck driver with several offenses, including reckless conduct, driving to endanger, and receiving stolen property.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that a significant number of emergency room visits involve speeding accidents. Speeding drivers pose a serious risk to road users, and the risk increases when the driver is evading authorities. There are many reasons these chases often end in an accident:

After a serious Maine car accident, victims may incur significant medical expenses that exceed their insurance policy limits. The effects of a Maine motor vehicle accident can reverberate in many ways. Treatment after an accident may involve outpatient procedures, surgeries, rehabilitation, and psychological care. Generally, injury victims are only responsible for medical payments as they incur them. While this may seem beneficial to the victim, the rule extends to the at-fault party as well. As such, generally, the law does not require the at-fault party to pay the victim’s medical bills on an ongoing basis.

Most medical providers require patients to pay their medical bills as they accumulate, regardless of whether they expect a personal injury settlement. This can pose significant financial hardships on the injury victim, especially if the accident impacted their livelihood. Maine accident victims should contact an attorney to determine the best and most efficient way to recover compensation from an at-fault party.

Maine follows the “fault” system to determine liability and compensation after a motor vehicle accident. Under these laws, the party who is legally at fault is responsible for the accident’s damages. Damages in these cases usually include medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, property damage, and other related costs. The primary methods for seeking compensation in Maine include:

Chain reaction collisions are those that occur when three or more vehicles collide with one another. Generally, this occurs as a series of rear-end accidents that typically stem from the impact of the first collision. The injuries from a Maine chain reaction accident tend to be more severe than a two-vehicle crash because of the sudden force of multiple vehicles. However, while the initial collision may involve the first driver’s negligence, that does not necessarily negate the other parties’ contributory negligence. Chain reaction accidents tend to be challenging because it can be difficult to pinpoint every party’s negligence and apportion liability relative to their fault.

For example, a Maine news report described a 3-vehicle crash in Livermore Falls. The assistant fire chief of the town was riding his motorcycle when he approached a stopped car. While he was slowing down, an SUV slammed into his motorcycle. The force of the impact pushed the motorcyclist into the car in front of him. The collision ejected the motorcyclist from his seat, and he died upon impact. Law enforcement stated that they believe that the fire chief was wearing a helmet during the incident. Three minor children were passengers in the vehicle that crashed into the motorcycle. Police stated that the accident is still under investigation.

While it seems easy to blame the rear driver, more than one person is responsible for the accident in many cases. For instance, in the case above, it is unclear whether the car traveling in front of the motorcycle stopped suddenly. In that case, the head driver may be responsible for negligently stopped on a roadway. These cases require an in-depth analysis of the accident scene and typically require an accident reconstructionist.

After a Maine car accident, injury victims and their loved ones must develop a strong case for an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Gathering and presenting relevant evidence is necessary to pursue a claim of this nature successfully. While there are some instances where negligence is presumed, such as in rear-end accidents and negligence per se cases, the majority of cases require a significant amount of evidence. Moreover, the law provides defendants with the opportunity to dispute their negligence in cases where negligence is presumed. Establishing liability is especially important because of Maine’s Comparative Negligence Act (Act). Under the Act, a claimant’s recovery will be reduced by their level of fault. Most importantly, the law bars recovery if the claimant is 50% or more responsible for the accident.

Maine accident victims must produce evidence that substantiates their claim. The evidence must establish the claimant’s version of events, injuries, and claims for lost wages. Evidence may include witness accounts and depositions, photographs, medical records, and police reports. An attorney can help claimants gather this evidence and present it to the fact-finder in a logical and clear manner. Although these types of evidence may seem straightforward, they must meet Maine’s rules for civil procedure. For example, many claimants believe that they can enter evidence of the at-fault party’s driving history and record of traffic citations. However, in many situations, the probative value of this evidence is outweighed by its prejudicial effect on the jury; as such, the court may not allow the evidence. There are several considerations that plaintiffs should reflect upon while preparing their claim for damages.

Car accidents can result in serious injuries and death, and it is vital that Maine claimants contact an attorney to ensure that they recover the damages they deserve. For instance, a recent Maine news report recently described a harrowing motorcycle accident involving a retired police officer. According to reports, the officer and his passenger collided with a sedan near South Portland. The officer died from his injuries, and his wife, who was riding with him, remains in stable conditions at the hospital. The sedan driver was cited for a moving violation, but the case is still under investigation. Cases involving motorcycles and victims who can no longer communicate their version of events present significant challenges. However, a Maine personal injury attorney can help families understand their rights and remedies in these situations.

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