Articles Posted in Personal injury

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Spin Papa dog MGD©.jpgUnder Under section 3952 of Title 7 of the Maine Revised Statutes, anyone who owns or keeps a dangerous dog can be fined between $250 and $1,000. If a dangerous dog hurts you, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for negligence and reimbursement for injuries under section 3961. In Maine, when a dog injures someone who is partly at fault for the injury, the damages will not be reduced unless the court determines the plaintiff’s fault for the attack exceeds the fault of the dog owner.

Maine is a strict liability state for dog bite and dog attack cases. When an injury happens on a dog owner’s property, a plaintiff must show that the owner was negligent. When the injury does not occur on the owner’s property, a plaintiff does not need to show negligence.

In a 2013 case, Fields v. Hayden, a woman who had been attacked by a dog appealed from a summary judgment in favor of the landlords of the dog’s owners. The woman alleged that the attacks occurred because the landlords were negligent. The case arose when the defendant landlords leased a single family home to a couple, the Perrys. The lease provided that the Perrys were allowed to have pets in the home, but that they would be responsible for property or other damage caused by the pets. Their dog allegedly attacked the plaintiff on three occasions.
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gloveimagemorguefilemelodi2.jpgAfter an accident, the responsible party may put into practice remedial measures to prevent the type of injury that occurred from happening again. If you are the victim of an accident that could have been prevented, you may believe that the remedial measures prove the responsible party was negligent. However, only under limited circumstances are those measures admissible in evidence.

In a recent Maine Supreme Court case, a deceased woman’s estate appealed a judgment in favor of the nursing home where she had fallen and died. The woman was 85 when she died. The nursing home had created an individualized care plan for the woman, as it did for all its residents. The plan accounted for her propensity to fall, and it was regularly updated to show her current condition and inform the staff of the level of assistance she required.

The woman routinely got up several times a night to use the bathroom, often without asking for help. The nursing home could not restrain her from doing this without a physician’s order. However, its staff was alerted by an automated bed alarm every time any resident got out of bed at night.
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MFile, ZeroSilence3 Snowmobile photo.jpgSnowmobile season started a little later in Maine this year because of unseasonably warm temperatures. Underneath the snow on Maine’s 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails, there was water and soft ground. The Maine Warden Service and Maine Snowmobile Association, promoting snowmobile safety, urged snowmobile riders to use the added time to prepare themselves better for the season and cautioned against riding the trails before they were groomed.

When snowmobiling on new snow, there is a danger of hitting rocks that can throw you into trees or other obstacles. In addition, the quality of the snow can dramatically affect steering. The forward momentum of the snowmobile causes a buildup that can cause the snowmobile to turn away, but if conditions are hard or bare, there is no buildup of snow, which changes the steering. If the condition of the snow is poor, you cannot safely travel at a fast speed. In some cases, snowmobiles travelling on lakes and streams break the ice, falling through. In Maine advisories are issued by the state government and private snowmobile clubs regarding the safety of frozen surfaces, and it’s important to always check those before you go out throughout the entire snowmobiling season.

Last season, there were 177 snowmobile crashes in Maine. Six of these were fatal. According to the Maine Warden Service, the most common reasons for these crashes are speed, driving beyond one’s ability, and driving outside the distance of people’s headlights at night. Alcohol can also contribute to crashes. Other factors that can affect the ability to drive a snowmobile safely are visibility, snow and ice conditions, faulty equipment, operator fatigue, and the rider’s age. If you are planning to go out snowmobiling, it is important to tell friends or family about your trip plans. Often, riders fail to leave a plan behind, which can make a rescue much harder.
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paint-bucket-205075-m-2.jpgLead paint is toxic and has a number of dangerous effects on unborn infants and children. The risk of unwittingly being exposed to lead paint is particularly high in older houses. Symptoms of lead poisoning include behavioral problems, anemia, headaches, and impacts on the brain.

In a recent lead paint case, a couple sued individually and for their three minor children in connection with damages suffered due to lead paint. The family had moved into a house they rented. Soon after moving in, their children had medical tests that showed they had elevated blood lead levels. The mother performed a home lead test, which showed the presence of lead in the paint.

The landlord denied there was any lead on the property, claiming the test results came about because of diesel trucks traveling nearby. The couple continued to live there with their children. Their third child was born in the house in 2006. In 2008, blood tests showed the third child had an elevated blood lead level.
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helmet-3-871460-m.jpgRecently, a mason working at a downtown Freeport shopping plaza on a landscaping crew was trying to remove the door of the loader with a coworker when granite steps that were held by the forks of the forklift crushed him. The worker was helping the operator of a loader when the forks and their load dropped on him. The reason for the incident is unclear, although authorities plan to investigate whether the drop was the result of a mechanical problem.

The lawn company that the mason had worked for was previously fined when a 19-year-old worker was riding on a tailgate of a pickup truck and died when the tailgate gave way. It had also been cited for other violations. Unfortunately, falling objects are not as uncommon as they sound, although usually they don’t involve something as heavy as granite stairs and may not result in death. The most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2013 involved fall protection. The top four causes of construction worker fatalities are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, or being pinned between objects.

If a loved one is killed by a falling or crushing object in Maine, his or her family’s ability to recover for wrongful death will be determined by the specific facts surrounding the death. In general, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees who suffer work-related injuries in Maine. Benefits obtained through the Maine workers’ compensation system include medical service payments and lost wages. Employers that are supposed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but don’t, can be sued in civil court for their work-related injuries.
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asbestos-244234-m-2.jpgMaine has a long history of thriving shipbuilding and paper industries. These two industries are known for the industrial use of asbestos, which is associated with a high rate of health problems such as mesothelioma. In the two decades between 1980-2000 there were 387 fatalities from asbestos poisoning, from both asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that arises in the mesothelium, a layer of tissue that is found inside human bodies, covering internal organs. It is aggressive and it is deadly. Work-related or occupational exposure to asbestos puts workers at high risk for mesothelioma.

How does exposure to asbestos trigger cancer? Asbestos occurs naturally and microscopic fibers of it can become lodged in the mesothelium, often the mesothelium covering the lungs. Over time these fibers can result in the development of cancerous tumors. Exactly how this process occurs is still being researched. One theory is that the asbestos fibers cause cells in the mesothelium to become irritated. This leads to cellular damage giving rise to cancer. Another theory is that the fibers enter the mesothelial cells. This disrupts the ordinary cellular division and causes genetic changes leading to cancer. Still another theory is that free radicals are produced by asbestos exposure. Free radicals are molecules that damage DNA and trigger mutation in otherwise healthy cells.
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flame-3-1189018-m.jpgA large percentage of Americans have red polyethylene gas cans in their garages. They are used to refuel chainsaws or lawnmowers or other equipment. Injuries resulting from exploding plastic gas cans (video) are surprisingly common. These injuries may include burnt skin, coma, and limb damage. The treatments required are extensive.

Tragically, about 40% of burn victims hurt due to gas cans are children. Fumes outside the gas can ignite as you pour or fill gas resulting in a flashback fire. Currently, gas cans have safety warnings that tell users to keep them away from flames and electric motors. But these warnings can be inadequate. Moreover, flame arrestors could make them safer.

Some manufacturers do install flame arrestors, but the law doesn’t mandate their installation yet. They are small mesh screens that can keep gas cans from exploding. They are installed in the spout of the cans. Shockingly, it only costs 5 cents to include an arrestor in the design of the can and yet some manufacturers will not pay even that much to keep their consumers safe.
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surgeon-3-391477-m.jpgA USA Today investigation uncovered thousands of unnecessary surgeries around America last year. USA Today looked through government records and medical databases and concluded that 10-20% of surgeries are performed unnecessarily in certain specialties. Public attention has focused on unnecessary cardiac stent surgeries, but actually a number of other specialties have also been plagued by unnecessary surgeries.

Some other common operations that may not be warranted by the medical facts are spinal surgeries, angioplasty, pacemaker implants, hysterectomies and cesarean sections. The Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed records for 112,000 patients and found that, in a surprising 22.5% of cases, there was no medical evidence to support installing an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, for example.

Similarly, Surgical Neurology International looked at 274 patients with back and neck complaints in 2011. More than 17% of these patients were told they needed surgery although they had no neurological or radiographic findings to show necessity.
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hand-holding-mobile-smart-phone-1417191-m.jpgAdults in Maine and other states know that texting and driving is dangerous. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2011, 387,000 people were injured and 3331 were killed in car accidents due to distracted drivers.

As discussed in other posts, there are a number of distractions that drivers need to avoid, but texting is especially dangerous, and it affects a vulnerable portion of the population that may not understand the consequences: teenagers. Teenagers often think it’s no big deal to send a quick text, even when they know talking on the phone is a bad idea.

NTSA has found teens to be six times more likely to crash while dialing a telephone. They are 23 times more likely to crash if they text while driving. Their reaction times start to approximate a 70-year-old driving without a cell phone, which is particularly dangerous because teens are also less likely to have a visceral understanding of the hazards of excessive speed and leaving enough space between cars.
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after-the-storm-631372-m.jpgWinter storms in Maine are known to cause power outages. Utility crews may work to restore power in connection with an outage caused by one ice storm, only to have another wet snowfall cause a new power outage. Many Maine families use generators to compensate for these power outages. However, a recent study found that operating a generator for 18-plus hours may lead to high CO (carbon monoxide) exposures. It does not matter if the generator is placed in the garage. Generator use for a prolonged period leads to a higher rate of CO poisoning.

CO is an invisible killer. Portable generators produce a lot of CO. There have been 755 recorded deaths throughout the United States from CO poisoning associated with generators between the years of 1999 and 2011. Many of these fatalities occurred during power outages. Even though there are increasingly more striking warnings about the hazard of CO poisoning linked to generator use, homeowners continue to use portable generators, placing them wherever they feel is appropriate.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been working on a solution using computer simulations and now recommends the use of an engine with new technology that has a reduced CO emission rate. The reduction would delay and slow the worsening of symptoms, which would give occupants time to realize the danger and leave their houses. The CPSC noted that this was a complex task, in which all factors that could influence airflow were considered. Until use of such a new engine becomes widespread, there are numerous suggestions from the Red Cross on buying and using generators safely.
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