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Sumner Redstone Sues for Elder Abuse

Sumner Redstone sues for Elder Abuse

The abuse of the elderly has become a significant public health problem, the extent of which can be hard to truly know. Seniors are particularly vulnerable when it comes to abuse, especially when their cognitive faculties are declining and they are unable to advocate for themselves. We would all like to think that our elders would be afforded the respect they deserve, especially from the people who should be dedicated to their well-being. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Each year hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of sixty are abused, neglected or financially exploited. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that nearly 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse.1 This poor treatment of the elderly is not limited to either gender, and even wealthy and powerful people can become victims.

What is Elder Abuse?


Elder abuse is broken into two categories, domestic and institutional. Domestic abuse generally refers to mistreatment committed by someone the victim has a special relationship with, including a spouse, sibling, child, friend or caregiver. Institutional abuse is committed in residential facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care. The following types of abuse can occur in either institutional or domestic scenarios:

  • Physical Abuse: Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a person, or depriving them of a basic need.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on a person through verbal or nonverbal actions.
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, or coercing a person to witness sexual behaviors.
  • Financial Abuse/Exploitation: Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of a person’s funds, property, or assets.
  • Neglect: Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection.
  • Abandonment: Desertion by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

The Sumner Redstone Elder Abuse Case

On October 25, 2016, billionaire Sumner Redstone filed suit against two of his ex-girlfriends claiming elder abuse among other allegations. Redstone claimed that his former girlfriends, Manuela Herzer and Syndey Holland, coerced him into liquidating his assets and giving each woman a ‘gift’ of $45 million, resulting in nearly $100 million in tax obligations that Redstone was forced to pay using company funds.

Mr. Redstone’s family claimed that he was mentally and physically unfit to make important financial decisions, accusing Herzer and Holland of maliciously manipulating the 93-year-old billionaire. Herzer was removed of her duty as Redstone’s health care agent last year, where she then tried to challenge the decision by also claiming that Redstone was not competent enough to make such a decision.

The two women have now changed their tune, however, saying that Redstone was of sound mind and body when he gave them their respective gifts.

The lawsuit also cited several e-mails from a nurse of Mr. Redstone’s who said she repeatedly heard Herzer and Holland berating him and claiming his family did not want to visit him. If the allegations are true it will definitely constitute elder abuse, as Redstone’s aged condition resulted in at least one party trying to take advantage of him.

If you or a loved one is suffering or has suffered elder abuse, Hardy Wolf & Downing is here to help. Each of our partners has extensive experience investigating, preparing, and trying cases in court. Defending the rights of people who have done so much for us is a true passion for our attorneys, and we’d be honored to help you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Supreme Judicial Court Recognizes Maine Attorneys Christian Lewis and Sheldon Tepler of Hardy, Wolf & Downing for 2016 Free Legal Aid to Elderly and Others in Need

Katahdin Counsel Logo

October 18, 2016, Portland, Maine – For Immediate Release.

katahdin-counsel-logo-pdf-33In honor of National Pro Bono Week, October 23-29, 2016, Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley today announced that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court will honor Maine lawyers who have reported their contributions of at least 50 hours of legal assistance to low income and elderly Maine people. This recognition will take place in ceremonies across the state in the coming weeks. This year, the Court will recognize 107 lawyers and 4 law students for donating 11,283 hours of legal work to Mainers in need of civil legal assistance. These legal services have an estimated market value of more than $1,600,000.

In thanking these lawyers the Chief Justice said, “We are very proud of Maine lawyers. They recognize that lawyers have a special responsibility to help fulfill the promise of justice for all. The Supreme Judicial Court is grateful to all lawyers who are providing pro bono and low-cost legal services, and the Court is particularly appreciative of the Katahdin Counsel lawyers, who have truly led the way in providing pro bono services to their fellow Mainers. Katahdin Counsel lawyers have set a high standard in the legal community for donating their time and talents to help their fellow Mainers in need.”

“There is no constitutional right to a lawyer in most civil cases, yet the need is critical. There are many Maine people, including the elderly, the disabled, and veterans, who simply cannot afford a lawyer. They face challenging legal issues involving employment, housing, health, family matters, domestic violence, consumer credit and bankruptcy.”

Chief Justice Saufley went on to say, “ National Pro Bono Week is a time to recognize the public’s need for access to justice and the daily efforts of Maine lawyers who quietly, and without fanfare, provide help to people in need. We take this opportunity to highlight the profession’s responsibility to help improve access to legal services to the poor. The single, easiest way to do that is to accept cases from the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project. I urge all Maine lawyers to set a goal in 2017 to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono work in service to others. Working together, we must make justice for all a reality. Providing free legal services to those in need is the surest way to provide the help that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Maine people.”

The list of this year’s honorees can be found at:

Those in need of legal services can contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project at 1-800-442-4293.

The press is welcome to attend all events.

Katahdin Counsel 2016 Award ceremony schedules:

  • Houlton, Aroostook County Superior Courthouse, October 14, 2016, Noon, honoring Aroostook County lawyers, and hosted by Associate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander.
  • Bangor, Penobscot Judicial Center, October 28, 2016, 10:30 a.m. Hosted by Associate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Andrew Mead, honoring lawyers from Penobscot and Hancock Counties.
  • Alfred, York County Superior Court, October 28, 2016, 2:00 p.m. Hosted by Associate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Thomas E. Humphrey, honoring lawyers in York County.
  • Auburn, Androscoggin County Superior Court, October 28, 2016, 10:00 a.m. Hosted by Associate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert Clifford, honoring lawyers from Androscoggin and Oxford Counties.
  • Augusta, Capital Judicial Center, October 28, 2016, 2:00 p.m. Hosted by Associate Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, honoring Kennebec lawyers and law students.
  • Portland, Maine, Cumberland County Courthouse, October 25, 2016, 4:00 p.m. Hosted by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley and Associate Justice Andrew Mead, honoring Cumberland, Oxford, and Sagadahoc County lawyers and law students.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Turn Your Family’s Life Upside Down

Traumatic Brain injury

Of all the potential injuries a person can sustain in an accident, traumatic brain injuries are some of the most frightening. There are several aspects of traumatic brain injuries that make them especially diabolical in nature:


  • Brain injuries aren’t always apparent at the time of the accident, and can manifest later
  • These injuries can occur deep in the brain, making them hard to detect even for health care professionals


The Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries


Any violent blow or jostling of the head, such as whiplash during a car crash, a slip and fall or countless other potential types of accidents, can cause the brain to collide with the interior of the skull, potentially resulting in bruising, tearing, bleeding or other damage.


Traumatic brain injuries also occur when an object penetrates the brain, such as a piece of skull from a skull fracture, shrapnel from broken glass or metal during an accident or a bullet.


The extent of the injuries can vary widely, as well as the resulting symptoms and repercussions. Some of the following symptoms may manifest immediately following the accident, while others could take days or even weeks before the effects are apparent.


  • Losing consciousness, which could occur for hours, minutes or even mere seconds
  • Feeling confused, disoriented and generally dazed
  • Headaches, nausea or vomiting
  • Unusual drowsiness or fatigue
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping more than one normally would
  • Loss of balance, dizziness and vertigo-like symptoms
  • Slurred speech, ringing in the ears, blurred vision or experiencing strange tastes and smells
  • Difficultly concentrating
  • Unusual behavior, mood swings, anxiety or depression


Should I See a Doctor?


If you, a friend, a loved one or a coworker ever experience any kind of serious blow to the head, it is absolutely imperative that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Brain injuries can be insidious in nature; just because someone is acting normally immediately after the accident doesn’t necessarily mean there was no damage.


Potential Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injuries


One of the many terrifying aspects of traumatic brain injuries is the potential for it to permanently affect a person’s personality or cognitive functions. Just the thought of going through life with an entirely different consciousness is hard to fathom, but it’s something families of severe traumatic brain injury victims have to deal with every day.


Many people who are in comas, vegetative states or those suffering from locked-in syndrome, where a person is aware and awake but unable to communicate, were victims of some form of traumatic brain injury.


Other long-term health consequences could potentially include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures
  • Infections
  • Persistent swelling or fluid buildup
  • Damage to blood vessels, leading to clots or other issues


Long-term cognitive or emotional consequences:

  • Loss of memory and ability to learn, reason, concentrate or regulate one’s behavior
  • Inability to organize, problem solve, think critically, multitask or make decisions
  • Trouble with communication, including speaking, reading and writing
  • Social difficulties such as an inability to pick up on nonverbal cues, emotions or appropriate behavior
  • Emotional changes such as irritability, angry outbursts, mood swings, depression, anxiety or loss of empathy


Traumatic brain injuries have also been linked to an increased likelihood for developing degenerative cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.


How Do I Know If I or Someone I Care About Has Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?


Diagnostic testing, which is often costly for the patient, is one of the few ways for medical professionals to reliably diagnose the extent of brain injuries. Computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are often used to see inside the brain in order to detect potential bleeding, blood clots, bruising or swelling of the brain tissue.


Treatment Methods and Rehabilitation


Many traumatic brain injuries require immediate surgery and medical attention, which can be quite expensive. Surgery commonly occurs when there is a blood clot which must be removed, skull fractures that need to be repaired or swelling which needs to be alleviated by opening a window in the skull to drain excess fluid.


Rehabilitation is often necessary following a traumatic brain injury, and sometimes requires a team of specialized medical professionals. Potential rehabilitation specialists may include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Social workers
  • Rehabilitation nurses


Between diagnostics, potential surgery and other expensive medical treatments and lengthy rehabilitation times, traumatic brain injuries can prove to be a massive financial burden for families struggling through these tragedies. The financial issues are compounded by the victim being unable to regain, maintain or in some cases even find new employment following their injury.


If you, your family or a friend in Maine is facing difficulties following a traumatic brain injury sustained in an accident, it’s likely in your best interest to seek the assistance of compassionate, skilled and reputable personal injury attorneys. Hardy Wolf & Downing want you to know that they are here for you and your family, and will go to extreme lengths to ensure every client receives the care, support and ultimately the compensation they need to recover.


Contact them today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.


Record-Setting Personal Injury Settlement in Philadelphia County

Scrabble - Accident Injury Hurt

Life’s major events aren’t always predictable, and the changes they bring aren’t always positive. David Williams, a Pennsylvania landscaper formerly employed by TruGreen, likely understands that sentiment better than most.

David was minding his own business, driving a company truck down a highway in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, when due to no fault of his own the vehicle rolled. The catastrophic accident resulted in irreversible spinal injuries, leaving him a quadriplegic with little hope for further recovery, even after several surgeries.

Investigators eventually determined the rollover was the result of a bald tire on the company vehicle. The settlement, decided nearly five years later, was record setting for the county, totaling approximately $26.55 million.

There are several important lessons about personal injury lawsuits that you can glean from this event.

Image result for Personal Injury

There Are Often More Than One Defendant, Meaning a Higher Potential Settlement

Let’s say for example that David was self-employed and owned his own truck. If the scenario played out the exact same way the only defendant in the case likely would have been the repair shop tasked with replacing or rotating his tires. If he paid them to do that, was assured the job was properly completed and then the accident happened, that shop could be culpable for his injuries.

But that’s just one auto shop. Maybe it’s a small operation with shallow pockets and inadequate insurance. In a situation like that, the limited resources of the only defendant in the case likely would have resulted in a far lower settlement figure.

In this particular case, however, there were several defendants. Because David was driving a TruGreen truck, and it is his employer’s responsibility to properly maintain company vehicles to ensure the safety of employees, TruGreen is also culpable. At the time TruGreen was owned by ServiceMaster, although they have since, as of 2014, split from ServiceMaster and are now privately held. But because ServiceMaster owned TruGreen at the time they were also held liable, as they are also responsible for the actions of their subsidiaries.

The initial mistake in the actual vehicle maintenance was allegedly made by a fleet service company, Dickinson Fleet Services. So they too were a defendant in the case.

The lesson? If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused entirely, or even in part, by another individual or company, keep in mind there are likely more than one potential defendant.

Personal Injury Cases Can Take Years

David and his family likely received some kind of monetary support, either in the form of pre-settlement financing or through other means. Families considering filing a personal injury lawsuit often have to worry about how they’re going to get by until the settlement finally comes in, and most can’t maintain their lifestyle for the next five or more years without any income.

That is one of the reasons, unfortunately, that some choose to accept a smaller settlement than they deserve. They assume that getting something now to pay for medical bills and living expenses is better than becoming destitute waiting for a justifiably higher settlement.

If you’re thinking along those lines, call the local Portland and Lewiston, Maine area personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing. They have faced all these scenarios before, and have solutions to help you make ends meet should you have a legitimate case.

Why Should You Call Hardy, Wolf & Downing if You Are Injured in Maine?

$26.55 million settlements like the Williams family received are not everyday occurrences, but the personal injury professionals at Hardy, Wolf & Downing also have an impressive record of settlements and verdicts they’ve won for deserving clients who suffered tragedy due to the actions or negligence of others.

Over a more than 40-year history they have won their own six and seven figure settlements and trial verdicts, totaling more than $100 million in all.2

If you have been injured in an accident in Maine, you owe it to yourself and your family to call Hardy, Wolf & Downing at 1-800-INJURED.

2016 Hardy Wolf & Downing Scholarship Winner

Scholarship cap and books Graduation Scroll and Book Stack

Hardy Wolf & Downing is pleased to announce the 2016 winner of our scholarship award. We were deeply moved by the number of applications received and as loyal supporters of military veterans and law enforcement personnel, we are proud to offer this year’s scholarship award to Marshall Magincalda, a former Marine who served in the U.S. infantry from 2003 to 2008.

We want to express our gratitude to all applicants for their past and continued service and wish them all the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Hardy Wolf & Downing Law Scholarship Winner

The law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing is proud to award a $5,000 law school scholarship to Marshall Magincalda, who was recently accepted to McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific in Sacramento, California. Mr. Marshall is a veteran of the Global War for Terrorism, and wrote candidly about his experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which afflicts thousands of military veterans. As he embarks on his Juris Doctor degree, Hardy Wolf & Downing feels confident his leadership skills and life experiences will contribute to a successful legal career. 

Personal Statement of Marshall Magincalda

“My first tour overseas was to Iraq in 2003. We pushed all the way to the city of Baghdad from the country’s southern border with Kuwait. As a junior Marine infantryman, I was shocked to take part in real violence and face graphic scenes of death. I remember being depressed, finding support in my best friend who served with me. Aside from our regular duties each squad took part in suicide watches for a few Marines at our Forward Operating Base (FOB). They were often stigmatized in the eyes of the rest of the men and some never fully recovered to rejoin us. I served three combat tours, my final tour in 2006. As one can imagine, by 2012, many veterans across the country who had served multiple combat deployments, had come home. Once back in the United States, negative stigma in the media and amongst the community has led some veterans to question their roles overseas.

In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a study to look at the impacts a decade of war had on veteran outcomes. The military’s suicide statistics for 2012 showed a significant increase in the suicide rate among military personnel. Three hundred and forty­ nine United States soldiers committed suicide after returning from combat. Among veterans the rate is even greater. The VA now estimates 18 veteran suicides each day. PTSD, is cited as being a major precursor for these effects. I have PTSD and know first-hand the toll it can take on your ability to function and interact with others even while receiving treatment. Friends and family learn of its effects when veterans exhibit unstable mental states (i.e. fighting, blackout drinking, car crashes, domestic abuse, etc…) which lead to an inability to find work and in some cases homelessness.

….When I left the military the transition was difficult. I was depressed and did not seek the care that I needed. Luckily, a group of supportive loved ones helped process me into the VA system to undergo treatment. My experiences make me curious about other veterans who are lacking supportive networks, or who suffer from severe PTSD.”

Study Reveals Abuse Among Residents of Nursing Facilities

Adult son out for a walk with his father, who has alzheimers disease.

elderly patientA recent report published in renowned journal Annals of Internal Medicine reveals a growing problem of elder abuse within nursing facilities being committed by fellow residents of such communities. According to researchers, roughly 20 percent of those residing in these types of care facilities suffer some sort of abuse from another resident.

Resident-on-resident aggression

The authors of the study examined incidents of verbal, sexual and physical abuse seen in 10 different nursing facilities located within the state of New York. Five facilities were situated in urban areas and the remaining five were suburban in nature. 2,000 total residents were included in the research, which utilized chart reviews, resident interviews, incident reports, shift coupons, staff interviews and personal observations to gather data. The average patient included in the research was 84 years of age, and over 70% of those who reported having experienced abuse of one type or another were female.

The findings of the study are sure to raise alarms to families of nursing home residents, regulatory authorities and others, as approximately 407 of the elderly patients observed had reported at least one event characterized as abuse while residing in their facility. 45% of these cases involved verbal assaults of one sort of another, physical assault amounted to 26% of all cases, invasion of privacy was implicated in 20 percent of incidents, menacing movements or gestures made up 4 percent of these events and sexual assault represented 3 percent.

Reasons for patient abuse closely examined

Given the extremely concerning nature of these findings, researchers also explored the likely reasons for the prevalence of abuse among nursing facility residents. It was found that abuse was most common among individuals for whom contextual or clinical issues were present, including dementia or other cognitive impairment. Sadly, high caseloads and insufficient staffing levels were also identified as contributors to the unacceptable number of incidents of abuse between elderly residents. Indeed, the National Center on Elder Abuse has indicated that approximately half of all nursing facilities in the United States have staff levels insufficient to fully meet resident needs.

It is important to note that the authors of the study themselves acknowledged that their research methods may not have captured all actual instances of abuse within the subject facilities. This is due to the researchers’ heavy reliance on staff, patient and family member accounts of past events. Because abuse events appeared most common among elderly individuals suffering from neurocognitive challenges, the study team urges facility planners and others to consider more effective methods of keeping those individuals separated from other patients.

Safeguarding our seniors

Older Americans are among the most vulnerable populations, and it is vital that their loved ones remain vigilant against signs of abuse. With those 65 and older expected to comprise nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, issues surrounding elder care are certain to take on greater urgency than ever before. Statistics from the National Council on Aging suggest that as many as 5 million elderly individuals experience abuse every year and that as few as 1 in 14 cases are ever reported to the proper authorities.

It is clear that family members of aging individuals need to remain watchful of changes in their loved one’s behaviors and habits which can be indicative of abuse. Physical signs of mistreatment or violence, unusual withdrawal from social activities, sudden changes in demeanor, poor personal hygiene and unexpected weight loss can all be hallmarks of elder abuse.

When it becomes clear that a nursing facility is failing to protect its patients or is actively engaging in unspeakable abuse of seniors, it is the responsibility of families, caregivers and legal advocates to step in and fight for accountability.

Maine elder abuse lawyers

Hardy, Wolf and Downing are leading elder abuse attorneys in Maine, fighting for the rights of injury victims since 1976. Our practice is committed to protecting the rights of senior citizens. If you or a loved one have been subjected to any sort of mistreatment or abuse in a residential nursing home or other care environment, we invite you to contact us at 1-800-INJURED for a no-cost consultation.

Officials Report a Projected Increase in Traffic Fatalities

car accident front end collision Increase in Traffic Fatalities - Hardy Wolf & Downing

In 2015 alone, 35,200 people in the U.S. lost their lives after becoming involved in car accidents. This statistical projection, recently publicized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, demonstrates an increase of 7.7 percent compared to the total traffic fatalities that occurred in 2014.

That year, the figure stood at 32,675 deaths. It’s important to keep in mind that the 2015 figures are projected statistics, but if they are realized, it will be the most number of traffic fatalities in one year since 2008. That year, more than 37,000 people lost their lives on the nation’s roadways.

Breakdown of traffic accident fatality reports

Agencies are still compiling data from police crash reports from 2015. However, the cases that have already been added into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) have been sufficient to produce estimated changes by sub-categories. So far, it appears that there has been a significant increase in motorcyclist fatalities – nine percent. Pedestrian deaths have also increased by 10 percent and bicyclist fatalities have increased by 13 percent.

Similarly, fatalities to both drivers and passengers have increased by six and seven percent, respectively. Fatal car wrecks that involved young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 increased by 10 percent. There have also been increases reported of fatalities that involved large truck accidents and passenger vehicle rollover accidents.

Causes and contributing factors

The report by the U.S. DOT and the NHTSA does not speculate as to the causes and contributing factors of these alarming increases, stating that it would be premature to release this information. However, the most common causes of car accidents in past years include drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, drivers who are distracted by cellphones and other electronic devices, and drivers who are behaving recklessly or negligently while behind the wheel. Young drivers are at a particularly high risk of causing serious car accidents, since they lack significant experience behind the wheel.

Legal compensation for victims

Car crashes pose significant challenges for victims and surviving family members. It’s never easy to cope with the emotional devastation that the sudden loss of a loved one causes. There are also funerals to plan and burial expenses to pay, along with medical bills, lost wages, and car repair or replacement costs. Victims or their family members might consider investigating their legal options after a serious crash.

Trusted Maine accident attorneys

As alarming as the latest traffic fatality statistics are, they can’t convey the truly horrific nature of serious car crashes, particularly those that claim lives. If you were injured or your loved one was lost to a car crash, you deserve the opportunity to demand justice.

The personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing can conduct a complimentary and confidential case review on your behalf. We never recover legal fees unless we obtain compensation for our clients. Call us today at 1-800-INJURED and let us know how our attorneys can assist you.

Investigation Underway over Brake Failures in Harley Davidsons

motorcycle accident

Brake Failures Investigations in Harley Davidson - Hardy Wolf & DowningAn investigation has ensued after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received 43 complaints of faulty brakes on certain models of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Riders reported that both the hand and foot brakes suddenly failed to work, resulting in three crashes and two injuries.

The investigation includes more than 430,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles with model numbers between 2008 and 2011. All of the bikes in the inquiry have an anti-locking braking system that is supposed to prevent riders from losing their grip in situations where they must brake hard. Riders said the brakes in these systems suddenly froze without warning, leading to potentially dangerous situations.

The NHTSA noted that these particular models of motorcycles were required to have the fluid in the brakes replaced every two years. If replacement was not done properly or in a timely fashion, the old fluid left in the brake system could corrode some of the parts. However, the agency also made a point to say that even with neglect of the brake system fluid, the fact that brakes suddenly stopped working without any warning “is a concern.”

The official investigation was opened on July 6 and Harley Davidson told ABC News that the company was cooperating with the NHTSA throughout the inquiry. The investigation comes on the heels of a 2014 recall by the motorcycle manufacturer that involved more than 60,000 bikes. Brake malfunction also led to the recall. However, in the 2014 recall, riders reported their brakes suddenly engaged without warning.

Motorcycle fatalities in Maine

Motorcycle fatalities are typically relatively low in Maine, compared to other areas of the country. In 2014, the state saw just 11 fatal motorcycle accidents. Four of those riders were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. The highest number of crashes between 2008 and 2012 occurred in Cumberland County.

However, 2015 saw an alarming upsurge in motorcycle deaths, prompting many to question the reason behind the uptick. According to the Portland Press Herald, there were 28 fatalities by the middle of September of that year. More than half – 19 riders – were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Helmets are not legally required in the state, except for riders who are 18 years or younger, riders with learner’s permits and those with first-year licenses.

The report attributed the increase in fatalities, at least in part, to the summer weather that brought more bikers out on the Maine roadways. Warm temperatures and lack of rain have allowed more riding this year than is typical for a Maine summer. However, other factors may have contributed to the increase as well, including speed, alcohol and the lack of safety equipment (particularly helmets).

No information was available in 2015 for the possibility that manufacturing defects in motorcycles contributed to the increase in crashes. Those factors could change this year, in light of the new information about brake defects associated with Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Liability in motorcycle accidents

In the meantime, those who suffered property damage or injuries as a result of brake issues with Harley Davidsons could be eligible for legal damages if this investigation determines manufacturers are liable. The current investigation is likely to reveal evidence that will either support or refute claims against the motorcycle manufacturer.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, or you lose a loved one in one of these tragic events, legal help is available. Contact the law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing today at 1-800-INJURED to speak with a veteran motorcycle accident lawyer in Maine. The case review is free and there are no legal fees unless we win compensation on your behalf.

Death of Whitewater Rafter Highlights Amusement Park Risks

Whitewater raft ride

whitewater raft rideThe death of an 18-year old visitor to the U.S National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, has drawn renewed attention to the safety of amusement parks and other attractions throughout the United States during this busy summer season.

Officials reported that the young woman from Westerville, Ohio died of an infection caused by a rare, brain-eating fresh water amoeba.

Death brings scrutiny to Whitewater Center

A renowned recreation and training facility for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiasts, the U.S. National Whitewater Center has attracted significant scrutiny following the death of Lauren Seitz last month. Visiting the center with members of her church group, Seitz encountered Naegleria fowleri, a one-celled amoeba known for causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a condition that is almost always fatal. It is thought that she was exposed to the organism when her raft overturned.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visited the center to conduct on-site water testing, later revealing that all 11 of the samples taken tested positive for the deadly amoeba. Dr. Jennifer Cope of the CDC deemed the UV filtration and chlorination systems present at the facility inadequate to protect its visitors, setting into motion a comprehensive review by state public health authorities who will determine what sorts of preventive measures are necessary going forward.

Safety standards far from clear

The incident at the U.S. National Whitewater Center has prompted many to question just how safe amusement parks and similar attractions throughout the country truly are. The frightening fact is that such facilities are generally under no uniform standards of inspection or reporting, and there are several states in which the safety of park rides and activities are subject to no state or federal regulations whatsoever, with matters of inspection and review left to the discretion of local agencies.

Authority over amusement park oversight was taken away from he U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1981, when the aptly-named “roller coaster loophole” was passed by Congress. This eliminated the federal government’s ability to inspect fixed site attractions. The state-by-state patchwork of regulations that remains has created significant inconsistencies and gaps in standards as well as what many see as a lack of transparency with regard to accident reporting.

While amusement park lobbyists suggest that there is no evidence indicating that increased federal involvement would produce noticeable safety gains, victim advocates decry what they view as a blatant absence of essential supervision over potentially dangerous endeavors in which negligence can and does prove deadly.

Amusement park liability & victims’ rights

When a serious injury or death occurs at an amusement park or other tourist attraction, the prospect of filing a lawsuit can seem extraordinarily daunting. Considering that litigation of this type can involve numerous areas of the law such as product liability, premises liability, general negligence and more, it is important to secure the aid of an amusement park injury attorney who is able to fight for maximum compensation.

Victims and their families need to know that they are not alone in seeking payment for things such as pain, suffering, medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy and more. The aftermath of an incident of this type can be extremely confusing and fraught with uncertainty, and the assistance of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in a time of crisis.

Advocating for Mainers since 1976

If you or a loved one have suffered a profound injury while visiting an amusement park or similar attraction, the attorneys of Hardy, Wolf & Downing are prepared to fight hard to secure the accountability and financial recovery you deserve.

For a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with trusted Maine accident lawyers, please call 1-800-INJURED.