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abandoned-pick-up-truck-5-866819-m.jpgInsurance issues can complicate a car accident case. This is why it is important to retain a Maine personal injury attorney that understands insurance coverage, particularly when there may be multiple insurance policies that offer coverage for a particular accident. Not all lawyers have a good grasp on how to read insurance policies.

In Maine, every vehicle owner has to carry liability insurance as well as uninsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage. The minimum liability insurance coverage for injury to one person is $50,000. Every person is required to obtain uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of $50,000/$100,000 or a combined limit of $100,000. These are minimum requirements, and sometimes it is wise to purchase more as a precautionary measure in case of a serious accident or wrongful death.

In a recent case, a decedent’s estate appealed after a summary judgment in favor of the defendants in its lawsuit against three insurance companies. On appeal, the estate argued there were issues of material fact about whether the decedent, a minor, had actually completed the purchase of a truck he was driving at the time of his death. The estate also argued that the decedent was killed before he became an adult and didn’t have the opportunity to ratify the contract.
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motorcycle-stunter-tyre-burnout-1301096-m.jpgMotorcycles in Maine and elsewhere are often associated with rebellious youth. In 1990, only one out of 10 bikers was over 50 years old. In 2003, one out of every four bikers was over 50 years old. However, a number of bikers today are over the age of 60. From 2000-2006, the number of crashes increased by 145%. This hobby is only gaining popularity among baby boomers.

A 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal examined the injury patterns and the severity of those injuries among younger and older bikers. The study found that bikers over the age of 60 were up to three times more likely to be seriously hurt due to a collision with a car compared to younger bikers. The data for the study found that there were 1.5 million crashes involving adults over age 20. Importantly, injuries to people over the age of 60 tend to be more severe than injuries to younger people. Older people are less resilient, and therefore they take a longer period of time to heal.

The data for the study came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program. The program assessed injuries from motorcycle accidents that were handled in the emergency department between 2001-2008. The researchers compared trends among three groups: 20- to 39-year-olds, 40- to 59-year-olds, and those over age 60.
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country-road-322990-m.jpgThe most common way to die is not through recreational risk like scuba diving or skydiving. As you may know, driving your car everyday on American roads is the activity that presents the greatest risk of getting killed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that car or other vehicle accidents are the leading cause of the death in the U.S. for people between ages four and 27. You can reduce these risks by being aware of dangerous times and places to drive.

In the event that a loved one is killed in a traffic accident, you may be able to bring a claim for wrongful death. Someone suing for the wrongful death of a family member may be able to recover damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of earnings potential, loss of inheritance, loss of care and protection, pain and suffering and possibly punitive damages, depending on whether the conduct that caused the accident was egregious.

The Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan identifies six deadly factors that drivers should avoid to avoid a fatal traffic accident. These six are: distracted drivers, drunk drivers, aggressive drivers, road construction, failing to use seatbelts and walking.
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texture-mashup-754020-m.jpgIt is common to imagine that most drunk driving crashes hurt or kill someone not known to the drunk driver. Disturbingly, a new study published in Pediatrics found that the majority of children who die in car crashes related to alcohol consumption are passengers in the car of the drunk driver.

According to the study, about 1210 kids below the age of 15 were killed in a car wreck in 2010. 1 out of 5 of those crashes involved drunk driving.

The study’s researchers evaluated fatal car accidents using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. They found that between 2001-2010, 2344 children under the age of 15 died in 2075 car wrecks involving drunk drivers. 65% of these rode with drunk drivers. In those ten years, the number of child passengers that were killed while riding in a drunk driver’s car went down by 41%.
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to-work-by-bike-1440576-m.jpgLess than half of the millions of Americans who ride bicycles wear helmets. One national survey of kids ages 5-14 taken in 2001-2003 determined that only 48% of them wore bicycle helmets. Older kids were less likely to wear helmets than younger kids were. Bike helmets have a bad rap for not being cool or stylish. Some kids don’t wear them for fear of getting teased or being seen as a geek or unattractive in front of their crush or friends. However, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the United States and about 515,000 were injured so badly they needed to go to the ER. Half of these were kids under age 20. A large percentage of injuries were traumatic brain injuries.

A bike is often your child’s first vehicle. It is a sign of freedom and impending adulthood. But it is important to make kids aware that wearing a bike helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, ASTM or Snell is not optional or uncool–it’s a must. The State of Maine recognizes how important this issue is and has made it mandatory for all people under age 16 to wear a bike helmet when riding in public streets.

The helmet should be one specifically made for bicycling. Helmets for other spots are not adequate substitutes because cycling helmets are designed to shatter on impact and reduce the blow to the head. A good bike helmet is typically under $20, but its value is far greater in terms of protecting against serious or catastrophic head injuries. Unlike passengers of cars, cyclists have nothing to stand between them and their bodies, and because cyclists are so small compared to cars, drivers don’t anticipate their presence and often don’t see them before an accident.
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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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a-car-key-with-lock-2-879310-m.jpgMaine drivers should be aware that General Motors recalled over 2.5 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The ignition switch in certain GM cars could turn off during the operation of the vehicle, resulting in stalled engines and disabled brakes and airbags. Some of the affected cars are the Pontiac G5, the 2007 Chevy Cobalt and the 2007 Saturn Sky. A full list is available on a GM website.

GM explained that drivers should remove all objects from their vehicle keys, including the fob, in order to make the car safe to drive. Apparently extra weight can cause the switch to turn off on its own or move to the accessory mode. However, it may be wiser to park your car until the problem is fixed and ask GM for a loaner car.

In early April, 22 family members of those that died as a result of driving the cars that have been recalled asked Congress to urge GM to tell consumers not to drive these cars at all. Many members of Congress agreed and hope to toughen disclosure laws about defects that make cars less safe or totally unsafe. Senator Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, agreed the models should not be driven until repaired.
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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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stethoscope-2-1080262-m-2.jpgMost Maine residents go to the doctor in hopes of taking care of their health. They don’t anticipate that a visit to the doctor will get them sick. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that every day an estimated 1 in 20 patients develops an infection, a good percentage of which happen because pathogens have spread between patients through the hands of health care professionals. There are guidelines recommending all physicians wash their hands before and after a patient visit. However, there aren’t similar guidelines that mandate disinfection after the use of medical equipment that comes into contact with patients.

A study by the Swiss director of infection control at University of Geneva Hospital found that people might be getting sick because doctors are not taking adequate precautions cleaning their stethoscopes between patients. The study’s author explained that there are no guidelines to clean stethoscopes, even though they carry as much bacteria as a doctor has on his fingertips.

The study was conducted between January 2009 and May 2009 at a Swiss university teaching hospital. The researchers studied three doctors that examined 83 hospital patients. The researchers were analyzing how much bacteria accumulated on different parts of the doctor’s gloved or ungloved dominant hand versus on the diaphragm and tube of the stethoscopes. 489 surfaces were sampled to assess bacteria.
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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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