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Investigation Continues in Fatal Solon Car Accident

distractions while driving

cars traveling at high speedMaine state police continue to investigate a vehicle accident that left a 31-year old Norridgewock man dead.  Authorities report that Joshua Sincyr was killed when a Toyota pickup truck driven by an 18-year-old Embden resident hit him while he was walking down Ferry Street in Solon last Friday night. The accident happened at approximately 10:53 p.m. in a stretch of road that was poorly lit.

Seth Burns, the driver of the Toyota Tacoma that struck Sincyr, has not yet been charged with any crimes, pending the results of toxicology examinations and a final crash report review. Skowhegan police Lt. Mark Brooks said a motor vehicle autopsy will also be performed. The Somerset County D.A’s office will evaluate the case once accident reconstructionists complete their final report and the toxicology results show if either the victim or the driver was under the influence of narcotics or alcohol.

While his truck suffered damage to the front end, Burns was not injured in the pedestrian knock-down, say police.

Madison man killed in separate accident the same night

The deadly Solon accident occurred just moments after another grisly crash that took the life of 21-year-old Clint Briggs and injured two others. Police say the collision happened close to the Old Ferry Road intersection in Starks, and that alcohol and speed are likely factors in the accident.

Briggs was a passenger in a Nissan Maxima driven by Jonathon Cayford, age 21.  The sheriff’s department reports that Cayford was passing westbound vehicles at a high speed – close to 80mph– when he lost control at a corner and suddenly veered off the road, striking some trees.

The crash killed Briggs, who was not wearing a seat belt, nearly immediately. Another passenger who was in the front seat of the Nissan suffered injuries and was airlifted to Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center. Authorities have not yet released the victim’s name, but say that she has since been released from the hospital.

Investigations are still underway as authorities wait for the blood kit results that were taken from Cayford. The driver’s vehicle has also been impounded, and additional forensic tests will be performed this week, according to Somerset deputies. Police say the blood test results may take several more days to come in.

Ramifications of car accidents

As media headlines attest, Maine’s highways and rural routes have seen an uncommonly high incidence of traffic accidents in recent months – from Bangor and Lewiston to Solon. Unfortunately, accidents can claim the lives of even the safest of drivers or pedestrians. Drivers who are distracted, excessively tired, driving under the influence or simply not paying attention can completely undermine one’s life and livelihood in the blink of an eye. Victims who survive serious car accidents may be left permanently incapacitated, and unable to work or earn a living.

If you sustained significant injury in a motor vehicle crash or lost a loved one due to someone’s reckless driving, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. To discuss the merits of your case with trusted Maine accident lawyers, please call the law offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing to arrange a free and confidential legal consultation. Call 1-800-INJURED to learn more today.

Drowsy Driving is a National Epidemic

distractions while driving cars traveling at high speed

In 2002, a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that 37 percent of drivers surveyed self-reported nodding off at least briefly at the wheel. In 2010, a similar study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that 41 percent of drivers reported falling asleep while driving. The results for the 2015 study were comparable.

There is no question that drowsy driving has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. The problem is particularly prevalent among younger demographics and among men. Yet, incongruously, 97 percent of drivers report understanding that it is unacceptable to drive when it is difficult to keep their eyes open.

An estimated 6,400 fatal car crashes are caused by drowsy driving annually – and given that this figure does not include non-fatal crashes – public safety advocates and political leaders have called for more aggressive initiatives to curb this epidemic.

Campaign to raise awareness

Public awareness campaigns are often successful in not only increasing awareness of a problem, but also implementing policy changes designed to resolve it. The National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which ran from November 1 – 8 in 2015, took this multifaceted approach to improving public safety. The NHTSA hosted a forum in recognition of the awareness week. It included speakers and panelists from advocacy groups, state governments, federal agencies, public health agencies, and traffic safety agencies. Featured experts ranged widely from a healthcare specialist in sleep sciences to the surviving family member of a victim of drowsy driving.

Speakers at the forum discussed the scope of the drowsy driving epidemic in the U.S. and proposed methods of curbing it. Their proposed approaches included exploring advanced vehicle technology, implementing preventative government policies, and increasing public education initiatives.

Risks of drowsy driving

Despite awareness initiatives, many people in the U.S. fail to realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, a few states are considering legislation that would allow prosecutors to pursue criminal negligence charges against drowsy drivers if their sleep deprivation leads to an accident in which someone is injured or killed.

Drunk driving and drowsy driving both slow a person’s reaction time, impair judgment, and reduce awareness. An individual who is sleep deprived is more likely to have problems processing information and suffering from short-term memory impairment. Sleep deprivation can increase aggressive behaviors, which is certainly not ideal behind the wheel.

Everyone who drives is at risk of drowsy driving. Unfortunately, the only foolproof way to eliminate accidents related to sleep deprivation is for every driver to self-identify sleep deprivation and to abstain from driving during these times – an ideal, but impractical solution. Certain individuals are at a higher risk of engaging in drowsy driving, including rotating-shift workers and night shift workers. Commercial drivers, business travelers, young people, and those with sleep apnea are also more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Maine residents who have questions about their legal rights following a car accident are invited to contact the personal injury law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing at 1-800-INJURED. Our skilled car accident lawyers are privileged to serve residents throughout the Lewiston, Portland, Bangor, and Auburn areas.

Driver of Hit-and-Run in Fairfield Arrested

car accident

car accidentA hit-and-run accident involving four vehicles in Fairfield ended in the arrest of a woman who was found hiding in a neighboring town. The woman, who has since been released from the Fairfield Police Department on unsecured bail, was a transient driving without a license at the time of the crash.

Melinda Caven, 31, was charged with driving without a license, leaving the scene of an accident and attaching false plates to a vehicle. She also received a felony charge regarding the theft of a license plate. The accident involved four vehicles, including the one Caven was driving. There were no injuries reported in that incident.

Driver flees the scene of the crash

After fleeing the scene of that crash, Caven struck a house, causing significant property damage. She also fled that collision, driving away with a flat tire. She abandoned the damaged vehicle near an auto parts store in Waterville. Police found her hiding behind the building.

The accidents occurred on the morning of November 10 on Main Street in Fairfield, near the Village Market. Caven’s Chevy Cavalier rear-ended a Honda that was stopped in a work zone. The impact of that collision resulted in a chain reaction involving two more cars, a Buick and a Dodge.

Caven then drove her Cavalier to Burill Street, where she lost control of her car and crashed into the corner of a house. Caven then made her way to Drummond Street in Waterville, where officials from Fairfield, Waterville and Winslow located her and made the arrest. At the time of the arrest, a member of Waterville’s law enforcement recognized the license plates on Caven’s vehicles as plates that had been reported stolen the day before.

Road deaths declining

According to Maine’s Department of Transportation, a reportable traffic accident occurs every 18 minutes in the state. A total of 28,896 crashes occurred on public roads in the state in 2013, with 30 percent of those crashes occurring between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Rear-end collisions were the most frequent, occurring in approximately one-third of all accidents reported.

Road deaths in the state have been declining over the past 70 years, according to a report from the Bangor Daily News at the beginning of this year. Officials attribute the decline in part to better education of highway safety issues and an 85-percent rate of seatbelt usage. However, accidents involving personal injuries and property damage continue to be a concern for the state.

Liability under Maine law

Under Maine law, parties involved in any crash in the state must exchange vehicle and license information. When personal injuries or significant property damage ($1,000 or more) occur, law enforcement must also be called to the scene. Drivers involved in the collision must also remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives.

The Maine State Bar Association recommends getting professional legal help when you are the victim of a traffic accident. The type of attorney hired will depend in part on the type of accident and whether there was property damage or personal injury involved.

Hardy, Wolf & Downing are leading Maine car accident lawyers  serving Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and Auburn. To learn more about your legal rights following a traffic accident, call 1-800-INJURED for a free case review.

Police Investigate Two Pedestrian Accidents in Bangor and Portland

Pedestrian Walk Sign

Pedestrian Walk SignWalking is one of the healthiest and safest modes of travel in the United States, which is why few pedestrians think twice when traversing a crosswalk or intersection. But even the occasional pedestrian is at risk of serious harm or death when it comes to car accidents, which account for 12 percent of all pedestrian injuries, according to a 2012 national survey.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that California, Florida and Texas lead the country in terms of pedestrian fatality rates, but recent accidents in Bangor and Portland indicate that Maine ‘s roadways have their own share of pedestrian dangers. Police are currently investigating two vehicle-pedestrian incidents, one of which left a woman and three-year-old child gravely injured.

SUV strikes woman and child in Portland

According to the Portland Press Herald, authorities are investigating a pedestrian accident that occurred near 238 Auburn Street – a busy, two-way roadway. The victims were a 34-year-old woman and a three-year-old child, who were both rushed to Maine Medical Center after being struck by an SUV while crossing the road. Other than being labeled “serious,” the exact nature of their injuries has not yet been reported. The accident happened at around 8 o’clock at night, when visibility may have been poor. The names of the victims and the 55-year-old SUV driver have not yet been released, but Portland police say that no charges have been filed.

Officials say that speeding was not a factor in the accident, but it has not been confirmed if the pedestrians were using a crosswalk or if they were simply trying to cross the street.

Bangor resident hit by car

Even more recently, a car hit a local Bangor woman – believed to be in her mid 40’s – along the intersection of Garland Street and Broadway Street. Bangor police sergeant Rob Angelo said the incident occurred late in the afternoon, just before 5 p.m., and left the woman with injuries that were considered non-life-threatening. Additional information on the identities of the driver and victim has not yet been released.

Pedestrian accident liability in Maine

Maine law stipulates that pedestrians have the right of way on designated sidewalks and marked crosswalks.

However, pedestrians are not permitted to:

  • Cross an intersection diagonally, except when authorized by pedestrian crosswalk lights
  • Cross between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control devices operate, except in a designated crosswalk
  • Leave the sidewalk or curb and suddenly walk or run into the path of a vehicle that cannot properly yield

Under current Maine law, motorists do not need to come to a complete stop when pedestrians pass at a crosswalk, and must only allow the pedestrian to safely pass beyond their vehicle. This may soon change, however, if a new bill sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is passed. The legislation would mandate that all drivers have to come to complete stop at crosswalks, rather than just yielding.

Right now, some 250 pedestrians are killed every year in Maine, with one out of every four struck at a crosswalk.

Hardy, Wolf & Downing offer expert legal representation to accident and crosswalk victims in Portland, Bangor, Auburn and Lewiston. We fight diligently to ensure that victims achieve justice and maximum compensation for their injuries. Call 1-800-INJURED to speak with a trusted pedestrian accident attorney in Maine.

Buxton Woman Ejected From Vehicle in Fatal Saco Car Accident

car accident on highway with ambulance

car accident  and ambulancePolice officers are working to determine what caused 26-year-old Shannan Carrier’s 2006 Nissan Altima to veer over the center line in the 400 block of Route 112 near Thibodeau’s Dairy at 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday, October 21st. Carrier was ejected from the vehicle and died upon impact after her car struck a 2008 Honda Ridgeline pickup truck driven by 48-year-old Thomas Lavin of Standish.

He was taken to Maine Medical Center and treated for injuries. At this point, his condition is unknown, but Saco police say the crash was so violent, it literally split the woman’s vehicle in two. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts at the time. The road remained closed until at least 5 p.m. as investigators reconstructed the scene and tried to piece together what may have happened.

Was negligence involved?

In fatal car accidents like this most recent Saco collision, negligence may come down to one or both of the drivers for:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Drunk or intoxicated driving
  • Speeding and recklessness
  • Poor vehicle maintenance

Sometimes manufacturers can be held liable if the vehicle’s brakes, accelerator, tires or other technical components fail to function properly at the time of the crash. If intoxication played a role, the person serving the alcohol may be held liable under certain circumstances. In some states, individuals knowingly calling or texting a driver have been brought into court for their roles in distracted driving cases.

Is the road to blame?

Not all car accident cases are a simple matter of driver liability or negligence. According to CBS13 News, people living in the vicinity say that accidents happen all too frequently on this stretch of road because people drive too fast. “I can’t speak for this particular accident, but people need to pay attention, there are curves in the road,” said area resident Rick Grant. “Stronger police presence would probably help slow them down,” added fellow resident, Robert Taylor.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a summary of investigations from 2.2 million traffic crashes on U.S. roadways and determined that “environmental factors” played a role in 52,000 accidents.

In addition to adverse weather conditions, there were also:

  • 26,000 crashes caused by slick roads, ice or debris
  • 6,000 crashes related to view obstructions
  • 1,000 crashes due to poor road design
  • 1,000 crashes caused by faulty signs or signals
  • 5,000 crashes related to other highway conditions

Federal, state and local governments and their hired contractors have a duty to the general public to safely design, construct and maintain highways and roads in their jurisdictions. When they fail to do so and a serious accident occurs, they may be held liable for injuries and fatalities. Sometimes the speed limit for a particular area is too high and further action is warranted to prevent future incidents.

To determine liability, experienced Maine car accident lawyers may use pictures of the scene taken immediately after the collision, weather reports, blueprints of the road design, government records of maintenance schedules, filed complaints, past lawsuits or accident reports related to the roadway, road construction plans, and various measurements (such as the length of a guardrail, the distance between warning signs and hazards, the width or a lane, or the degree of a curve or slope). Eyewitnesses, as well as expert witnesses on road design, may be called in to testify and add credibility to the hypothesis of what happened and which parties were at fault.

No cause for fatal Saco car accident released

Determining fault in car accidents can be a complex investigation, which is why so many questions remain unanswered after this recent crash in Saco.

Is your head still reeling from a recent car accident involving yourself or a loved one? Call the law firm of Hardy, Wolf and Downing for a free consultation to see if you have cause for litigation.

Rash of Pedestrian Accidents in Maine

bicycle accident

bicycle accidentThe outcomes of two recent pedestrian accidents in Maine illustrate just how fragile life is – especially when negligence factors in. A 51-year old Skowhegan woman was struck and killed last week when she reportedly walked into incoming traffic at an intersection. Authorities are uncertain why Kathy Barker would have crossed the intersection at Constitution and Madison avenues during a green light, but they don’t suspect her actions were suicidal in nature.

Barker was hit by a pickup truck driven by Jason Carrigan just after 8:00 PM, say authorities. Just behind Carrigan’s truck was an EMT vehicle, but despite immediate attempts to treat the woman’s injuries, she was later pronounced dead after being transported to Redington-Fairview General Hospital.

“Any intersection is dangerous if people don’t adhere to signage and things like that,” said local Police Chief Don Bolduc. “It’s important people are not wearing dark clothes and all those things we’ve talked about before about safety.” Bolduc continues to investigate the accident, but excessive speed and alcohol are not suspected.

Bethel hit-and-run accident injures teen bicyclist

In a separate incident last week, a Bethel man has been arrested for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident that left a teenager in critical condition. Forty-five year old Richard Marin was arrested by authorities and is being held on $10,000 bail at Oxford County Jail.

Following the arrest, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant told WCSH-TV,“I find extremely troubling that somebody would know that they hit a person and not stop and try to (lend) some sort of assistance or call the proper authorities.”

According to officials, Marin was driving his vehicle when he hit the teenager while he was riding his bike on Church Street.  The impact left the boy, who is from New Hampshire, with life-threatening injuries. He is being treated at Portland’s Maine Medical Center, where he’s still in critical condition.

Marin was finally located and ID’d after the sheriff’s office received tips that directed them to a Bethel garage, where they discovered a vehicle that perfectly matched the descriptions given by eyewitnesses.

Liability issues in pedestrian-auto accidents

Cyclists and pedestrians alike are at great risk for suffering significant bodily harm when struck by motor vehicles. Paralysis, broken bones, internal injuries, traumatic brain injury and death are not uncommon outcomes in pedestrian-auto accidents.

According to the National Highway Safety Association (NHTSA), an estimated 5,000 pedestrians die in motor vehicle accidents every year, and another 76,000 pedestrians suffer massive injuries.

But who is to blame for these accidents and how do you establish liability?

The following are some situations in which the pedestrian may be found partially at fault:

  • crossing against a traffic signal
  • jaywalking
  • entering a road while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • walking along causeways or freeways where pedestrian traffic is expressly banned

However, a bicyclist or pedestrian may attempt to recover compensation for injuries sustained if it’s evident that a third party’s negligence contributed to the accident. When demonstrating negligence in an accident, the plaintiff and his or her attorney must prove that the defendant breached their duty by driving too fast, while intoxicated, failing to signal, disobeying traffic signals, or driving while distracted.

If you or a loved one was harmed in a pedestrian-car accident and would like an experienced attorney to evaluate your claim, call 1-800-INJURED to speak with a Maine accident lawyer at Hardy, Wolf & Downing. We advocate on behalf of victims in the Portland, Lewiston and Bangor areas. 

Maine Residents Still Haunted By 2014 Hayride Death

hay ride trailer

hay ride trailerAutumn means apple cider, pumpkin spice and breathtaking fall foliage for most Maine families – but not for family and friends of Cassidy Charette, the 17-year-old Messalonskee High School student who was fatally injured in a 2014 hayride accident. According to a news report at the time, she had gone on “a haunted hayride called ‘The Gauntlet’ in Mechanic Falls on Saturday when the Jeep pulling a trailer filled with passengers lost control, hit a tree and overturned, sending 22 people to the hospital” with ankle injuries, abrasions and broken bones.

Family and friends remember Cassidy Charette

A year after her death, the friends and family of four-time honor student, soccer player and mentor Cassidy Charette united to keep her spirit alive. One of Cassidy’s famous sayings was “Life is short; eat dessert first,” so several events were planned in her memory. The community set to work building Cassidy’s Kitchen at Hart-to-Hart Farm in Albion over Columbus Day weekend. They also gathered at Dairy Queen on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville from 5 to 7:30 that Sunday, with 15 percent of sales donated to the Cassidy Jean Charette Scholarship Fund at Messalonskee High School.

Factors in the hayride accident

What sounds like a freak accident at face value may be determined the result of negligence after a thorough investigation is conducted. Authorities concluded that a “mechanical problem” caused the hayride accident. A review of the vehicle found that the driver’s side rear brake line had been recently installed, but the fluid reservoir was empty and several brake parts were missing or improperly installed.

Sworn statements revealed that farm owner Peter Bolduc ignored employee warnings that the Jeep brakes were faulty, though he passed two polygraph tests claiming ignorance. Employees told investigators that the haunted hayride vehicles went “years without maintenance” and that mechanics advised that the owner should “junk it.”

This past summer, hayride driver David Brown and farm mechanic Phillip Theberge pleaded “not guilty” to reckless conduct charges, which come with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

“He doesn’t remember much about what happened that night,” the driver’s attorney told the Portland Press Herald, “but I suppose what he says about that night is he was driving a Jeep provided to him by the company and the Jeep lost control and got into an accident.”

Charges have not been brought against the farm owner because “the investigation showed there was a substantial chance it would not lead to a conviction.” Harvest Hill Farm faces fines of up to $170,000 for charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct. No trial dates have been set.

The owner of the land on which Harvest Hill Farm operates filed for bankruptcy following the hayride tragedy in anticipation of facing personal injury lawsuits seeking substantial damages.

Questions about filing a Maine accident lawsuit?

Has your family been affected by a tragic incident at a carnival, amusement park or other premises where the property owner or employees may have acted negligently? Attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing can provide a free assessment of your case and conduct a full investigation to establish liability against any negligent parties involved. Call 1-800-INJURED to speak with a qualified premises liability lawyer right away.

Report Underscores Drug-Impaired Driving Dangers, Urges Action

Car slipping on black ice

car accident ambulanceAccording to an alarming new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, driving under the influence of drugs such as marijuana and prescription medications has increased so significantly that its contribution to fatal incidents on the roads must be the focus of new prevention efforts on the part of law enforcement agencies and others.

The report includes several suggestions on what steps might be taken on a local, state and national level to bring the situation under better control and reduce the incidence of deadly, yet wholly avoidable accidents.

Drugged driving statistics

One particularly notable figure gleaned from report indicates just how much driving under the influence of drugs has grown in recent years. Between 2007 and 2013, the percentage of motorists testing positive for marijuana in their systems increased from 12.4% to 15.1%. The report states that approximately 38% of individuals who died in car accidents during 2013 had some type of drug in their systems. This represents a similar figure to drivers who were found to be under the influence of alcohol while operating a vehicle.

It is interesting to note which drugs seem to be the most problematic when it comes to driving while impaired. Of those found to be driving while under the influence, marijuana appeared to be the most popular, with 34.7% of the tally. Amphetamines came in at a still-worrisome 9.7%, a category which includes a range of stimulants such as nasal decongestant medications and ADHD drugs.

Report urges increased prevention, enforcement efforts

Dr. James Hedlund, former senior official at NHTSA, the author and researcher behind this new report, has suggested that while most of the attention concerning impaired driving has long been given to alcohol-related incidents, it is time to focus additional energies on the problem of drivers who are under the influence of drugs. Statistics suggest that drunk driving is actually on a downward trend, while drugged operation of motor vehicles has taken a distinct uptick.

This is attributable in some part to the fact that a number of states have made marijuana legal for recreational as well as medicinal use. Adding to the situation is the fact that more and more Americans are using prescription pain medication on an almost routine basis.

Oxycodon, hydrocodone, cocaine and benzodiazepines were found in the systems of far too many individuals killed in automobile accidents, and the rise in reliance on anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications is likely to blame. Though the precise degree to which the use of drugs of any type increases the likelihood of being involved in a serious collision is still the subject of debate and study, there can be little doubt that many of the most commonly detected substances reduce drivers’ ability to react on the roadways.

State laws regarding drug impaired driving

According to Hedlund, part of the problem lies with the wildly divergent state laws pertaining to drugged driving. 15 states presently employ zero tolerance laws with regard to one or more drugs known to cause significant impairment. 18 states either exhibit zero tolerance or or have set specific limits on the legal level of marijuana that can be in a driver’s system. However, states in which marijuana is legal for recreational purposes have no such laws on the books regulating drug-impaired operation of a motor vehicle.

In order to begin the process of taking drug-impaired driving more seriously on a national basis, the report urges an increase in drug awareness campaigns, targeted law enforcement training programs and the adoption of drug-impaired driving laws in all jurisdictions designed to enhance the penalties to be faced by drivers found to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of potentially dangerous drugs. Shining a spotlight on what has become a serious epidemic may be the most effective way to combat the often devastating consequences, according to Hedlund.

Hardy Wolf & Downing know all too well the tragic outcomes caused by drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love has been harmed in an accident of this type, we stand prepared to help you fight for compensation. Call 1-800-INJURED to arrange a no-cost consultation with leading Maine car accident lawyers.

Patient Motivation Key for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery

spinal cord injury

spinal cord injuryMedical experience has shown the critical role that patient motivation plays in recovering from a spinal cord injury or stroke. Up until now, however, there has been a lack of neuroscientific data that explains how this motivation impacts or promotes the recovery of motor function.

A recent study conducted by Japanese researchers focused on the neuronal activity of macaque monkeys with spinal injury to determine how it affected motor functioning during the early phases of recovery. When the animal’s nucleus accumbens was temporarily blocked, researchers noted a marked decline in finger dexterity and overall motor cortex activity. The nucleus accumbens plays a major role in the mental processing of reward, reinforcement, pleasure and motivation.  The researchers found that this neural region makes a pivotal contribution to the restoration of hand control following spinal cord damage.

“Our result suggests that in the early stage after brain injury including spinal cord injury, it is important to motivate the patients for promoting functional recovery in rehabilitation. Psychological support for these patients may be important,” concluded lead researcher Dr. Yukio Nishimura. The findings were published in the October 2015 edition of Science.

About spinal cord injuries

Traumatic spinal cord injury results from a sudden blow to the spine that that crushes, compresses, dislocates or fractures vertebrae. Displaced shards of vertebrae and ligaments can rip into spinal cord tissue, causing widespread inflammation, bleeding and fluid accumulation.

Damage to nerve fibers then hampers or completely impairs muscles and nerves below the site of trauma. Depending on the severity and location of the spinal cord injury, a victim may lose bowel or bladder control, experience reduced hand dexterity, lose speaking abilities, or suffer from partial or total paralysis in the arms, legs and trunk.

The following are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries:

  • Motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents (more than 35 percent)
  • Falls – more prevalent in the elderly (25 percent)
  • Sports injuries (15 percent)
  • Knife or gunshot wounds (15 percent)
  • Alcohol-related accidents
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis and cancer

Living with spinal cord injuries

According to the CDC and the University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the costs of living with spinal cord damage can run into the millions of dollars. As an example, someone who suffers a C1-C4 injury and is a tetraplegic can expect to incur medical costs of $1,023,924 in the first year, and $171,808 for each following year.

For many underinsured or uninsured individuals, these types of expenses can undermine a family’s financial security, putting some on the edge of bankruptcy and home foreclosure. In situations where injury was caused by the negligence of a third party, such as a drunk or reckless driver, victims have the right to pursue legal compensation. A large settlement or verdict can ensure victims receive the best treatments and rehabilitation, and medical bills get paid.

Maine accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing offer free consultations to individuals in need of sound legal advice. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-INJURED. Our attorneys serve the Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn and Portland areas.

Local Motorcyclist Survives Crash Caused by Maine Wildlife

man on motorcycle Motorcycle

An avid motorcyclist is thanking his lucky stars after sustaining multiple injuries in a crash that occurred on Sunday, September 20, 2015. Tommy Stone was riding his 2012 Suzuki DRZ400 away from his home in Limington. He rode through Fryeburg and Bethel without incident, but ran into problems on Greenwood Rd. leading to Rt. 117 when an unidentified animal darted out in the road in front of Stone’s motorcycle. Fortunately, Stone survived the crash and acknowledged that it could have been much worse.

Momentary distraction led to Maine motorcycle crash

Stone informed a local journalist that he knew the speed limit would drop to 35 miles per hour not too far ahead of a hill he was navigating. Stone checked his speedometer to make sure he wasn’t going too fast. When he laid eyes on the road again, there was an animal in front of his bike that he couldn’t identify.

“Even thinking back on it now all I see is a two-foot-tall grey blob. It wasn’t really scurrying like a porcupine, so I’m assuming raccoon? Maybe fox?” said Stone in an interview. “For whatever reason, I didn’t think I could swerve around or hit it head on without really bad things happening. So, I went into a panic stop…”

Stone went on to note that his rear wheel locked almost as soon as he hit the brakes. In the few seconds that it took the crash to occur, Stone couldn’t tell if his front wheel locked as well. He tried to correct the course of the motorcycle, but soon found himself sliding on the ground.

“I probably laid on the ground for 5-10 seconds before I really understood what had just happened,” said Stone. When he gathered himself, Stone managed to get to his feet, although he could not place any weight on his left leg without feeling excruciating pain. Although Stone had come to a stop about 15 feet away from his bike, he managed to get back to his bike and get it out of the road.

Motorcyclist credits safety gear for preventing worse injuries

Stone called a family member, who quickly arrived at the crash site and brought Stone to the nearest emergency room in Norway. At the hospital, he discovered that he had broken every toe in his left foot, including his big toe. Stone also suffered from a painful case of road rash, but he knows that it could have been much worse.

“Gear really saved most of my skin on this one. Helmet is beat up, riding jacket is beat up, gloves are beat up, Sidi boots are beat up. But, every piece of clothing helped save me from getting killed,” Stone said.

Legal advocates for Maine motorcycle accident victims

Residents of the Bangor, Lewiston, and Portland areas are invited to contact the law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing at 1-800-INJURED to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a personal injury attorney. If you have sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident in Maine, our legal team will be happy to explain any applicable liability issues.