Self-driving technology is coming to Portland, Maine’s largest city. With it, residents may see an uptick in Maine auto accidents.

A Washington State company called Inrix announced it plans to test its self-driving automotive technology on the streets of Portland.  Inrix is a global company that develops and deploys Internet services and mobile applications for road-traffic and driving uses. The software platform, called AV Road Rules, is intended to function as a guide for self-driving cars, by allowing vehicles to “see” road conditions such as one-way streets, crosswalks and school zones. Portland will focus initial mapping on Commercial Street and Franklin Street, heavily used transportation corridors into the Old Port and downtown Portland.

The complexities of today’s modern vehicles — from airbags to anti-lock brakes to early-warning systems and backup cameras, are already making an impact in the courtroom when it comes to personal injury and wrongful death litigation. A recent column in the Press Herald highlighted just a few of the questions being raised by such emerging technologies.

Students are heading back to class, which means it’s time for adults to brush up on their education when it comes to safe driving. Maine bicycle accidents can be unfortunately common, which can lead to serious injuries, particularly if the rider collides with a car.

Bangor School Department has announced schools will open Tuesday Sept. 4. School officials urge parents to start kids on their school sleep schedule now, so they will be properly adjusted for the first day of class. This can also help keep them safe while traveling to and from school. Portland Public Schools will also return to class Sept. 4.

The Bangor School Department also announced a partnership with the Bangor Police Department to put liaison officers in schools to work to ensure proper security and student safety. While parents may worry about bullying, school violence, or the rigors and risks of today’s school athletics, our experienced personal injury lawyers know the commute to and from school is most likely to be dangerous.

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The recent injury of a Sanford girl in a UTV accident highlights the risk of these and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as we head into autumn.About 500 people a year are killed in ATV accidents, according to federal statistics, and more than 100,000 are injured seriously enough to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms. About 25 percent of victims are under 16 years of age. In all, nearly 15,000 riders have been fatally injured since ATVs became popular in the 1980s.

CBS13 reports hundreds participated in a Sanford fundraiser for the 8-year-old girl, who broke her neck and jaw and suffered numerous skull fractures after falling from her UTV. The local Maine ATV Club sponsored the event.

Autumn is the most dangerous time of year for accidents involving utility and all-terrain vehicles for various reasons. Experience and familiarity bring more aggressive riding, often on newer, larger, and more powerful ATVs. The ground is hard, and vegetation is reaching maximum growth, which reduces visibility and creates hazards of its own.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently granted partial summary judgment in a case against a Portland High School after a mother alleged her teenage son fell and struck his head while apparently tussling with an older boy at a school sporting event.The court dismissed the claims against the older boy’s parents. The case against the defendant teen and the school district will proceed separately from this ruling.

The mother claimed the incident occurred at Cheverus High School in Portland, where a number of youths had been attending a sporting event. She filed an injury lawsuit against the school district, as well as the older boy and his parents, bringing counts for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendant parents requested summary judgment for both negligent infliction of emotional distress and causes of action under state negligence laws.

Summary judgment is a legal term that means a plaintiff has failed to bring a case in which there is a genuine issue of material fact for a jury to decide, so the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Essentially, this means a plaintiff failed to bring a case sufficient for a jury to decide upon matters of fact, and the defendant otherwise prevails as a matter of law. Summary judgments are frequently filed by law firms defending corporations and large insurance companies. It means an unprepared injury attorney could find his case over shortly after making it to the courtroom.

A Massachusetts Appeals Court has affirmed a multi-million dollar wrongful death judgment awarded to the estate of a woman killed after a vehicle ran into a Chicopee convenience store.

We have seen an increasing number of parking lot injuries and storefront crashes throughout New England in recent years. The Storefront Safety Council reports nearly half of these collisions involve a driver over the age of 60 and about half are attributed to operator or pedal error. The group estimate more than 500 people are killed and 3,600 injured in accidents caused by motorists driving into storefronts each year.

This case resulted in a $32 million verdict against a convenience store company after a woman was struck and killed by a speeding sport utility vehicle (SUV) that crashed through a Chicopee storefront, when the 81-year-old driver lost control. The victim’s husband, as executor of her estate, had argued the company was negligent for not installing bollards or taking other safety measures after hundreds of car strikes at its convenience store locations. The company argued it had no duty of care; that the event was completely random and unforeseeable; and that wrongful death was caused by the negligent actions of the at-fault driver.

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Construction at a busy downtown Bangor intersection has proven stressful to motorists and has authorities preaching caution through the remainder of summer road-construction season.

The downtown work to replace Civl War era drainage and sewer lines began in April and is expected to last through the remainder of the year. The project has narrowed Exchange, State, Harlow and Hammond streets to one lane, and temporarily reconfigured Park Street to one-way travel.

Summer is prime time for road construction throughout Maine, as crews work to improve infrastructure and repair winter road damage. As of mid-July, the Maine Department of Transportation lists 360 road construction projects in progress throughout the state.

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The Maine supreme court has that ruled employers aren’t required to cover medical marijuana through the state workers’ compensation system. The 5-2 decision disappointed many worker advocates who had been following the case closely. Justices ruled that in a conflict between federal law considering marijuana a dangerous and addictive substance and Maine’s state medical marijuana law, the federal law takes precedence.

This means that people injured on-the-job in Maine are going to need to either accept an alternative medication for their treatment or else pay for their medical marijuana out-of-pocket. Injured workers should be mindful, though, because the federal precedent also allows employers to take employment action against workers who use marijuana, even with a prescription. While this is troubling in itself, employees accepting workers’ compensation may need to be especially cautious, given that as a whole, they are more likely to be targeted for retaliation from employers for reporting work injuries, seeking treatment for on-the-job accidents or reporting job site safety violations. Continue reading

Hit-and-run accidents in Maine (and nationwide) are a rapidly rising concern, highlighted by an alarming new report indicating hit-and-run deaths have a record-high nationally. 

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that in a single recent year, there were 737,000 total hit-and-run crashes tallied with 2,049 deaths. Both of these figures are the most ever recorded since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began recording in 1975. Hit-and-run crashes account for 12 percent of the total crashes in the U.S., 7 percent of all injuries and 5.5 percent of all car accident deaths.

In Maine, there were a total of seven hit-and-run crashes resulted in death recorded that year. On one hand, that’s one of the lowest figures of fatal hit-and-runs in the country. However, the data is presented in raw numbers, failing to factor in population. Beyond that, those seven crashes amounted to a 75 percent year-over-year increase and the highest reported in the last decade. We had four straight years in that time with zero hit-and-run crash deaths, and the year before that, there one deadly hit-and-run crash.  Continue reading

Rabid wildlife has attacked two Brunswick residents and two dogs in recent days. While references to Stephen King’s “Cujo” will no doubt abound, the fact remains summer is already the most dangerous time of year for Maine dog bite injuries; confirmed cases of rabies in the area will only serve to increase the risks. While Stephen King’s 1981 classic depicted the horror faced by a mother and son held captive in rural Maine by a rabid dog, the truth of the matter is that mandatory pet vaccines throughout the majority of the country have drastically reduced the risks.

However, Maine is among the states that still report the most cases each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports rabies is a preventable disease of mammals, transported most often through the bite of another rabid animal. The vast majority of reported cases each year occur in wild animals, including raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks. Untreated, the virus infects the central nervous system and leads to brain disease and death. Death occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.

In the Brunswick case this month, the Bangor Daily News reports a 72-year-old woman was bitten by a gray fox. A 27-year-old neighbor was also bitten while trying to detain the fox for authorities. In a separate incident, two dogs were bitten by a rabid skunk. As of June, Maine has had 18 confirmed cases of rabies reported statewide.

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News Center Maine reports a record 47 million people are expected to travel over the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. A record deadly start to summer has authorities moving on a number of fronts to improve road safety and reduce the risk of Maine car accidents.

Motorists can expect increased road patrols and heavy traffic, but safety advocates are trying to make it not all doom and gloom. The Maine Department of Transportation is using the results of a funny sign contest to get motorists’ attention by using humorous signs with serious messages. Bangor Daily News reported winning messages that will appear on the state’s network of digital highway signs include “Put Down UR Cell — Or You May End Up In One,” and “Be Protected — Not Projected – Buckle Up.”

As our car accident lawyers in Bangor and Portland reported recently on our Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, improper passing was blamed for the state’s deadliest crash in three years, after four people were killed and four others seriously injured. The crash is being blamed on improper passing on Route 4 in Berwick.

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