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Fatality Marks Fifth Motorcycle Death in Maine for 2016

two men on motorcycles during the summer

MotorcycleAnother motorcycle accident in Maine has claimed an innocent life. 36-year-old Robert Locke, from Lynbrook, New York, died after being thrown from his motorcycle on Alfred’s Route 111. According to state police, the victim had joined a group of friends for a trip to New Hampshire when the accident happened. Police say that Locke swerved to avoid hitting a vehicle that was turning onto Clark Road when he lost control of his bike and was flung onto the roadway.

He was taken to Southern Maine Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Locke was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. This recent tragedy marks the 5th motorcycle death in Maine this year.

Motorcycle crashes in Maine on the rise

With summer in full swing, more avid bikers are taking to Maine roads than ever before. But operating or riding a motorcycle comes with inherent risks, making this mode of transportation exceedingly dangerous. According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, the rate of fatal motorcycle crashes in Maine has been steadily climbing, with 17 deaths recorded between January 1 and August 3, 2015. By contrast, during the same period in 2014, only six motorcycle crash-related deaths were reported.

Although alcohol, speed and not wearing a helmet contribute to a number of these fatalities, others argue that distracted drivers and a lack of motorcycle safety training are also to blame.

Take Mark Wild, a 53-year old Brunswick resident who been riding motorcycles most of his life. “I ride pretty often, and I see so many people on cellphones,” he told Bangor Daily News. “If you are distracted driving — it may be a cellphone, it may be a touch screen in a car — that is a potion for disaster for motorcyclists. It’s just making it even harder for them to be seen.”

Lack of safety training another issue

The coordinator of the Motorcycle Safety Program for the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, John Kohler, offers a different perspective on growing numbers of motorcycle accidents, opining that a lack on hands-on training is associated with the lion’s share of fatal crashes. “Our attitude is, once people have been riding for a number of years, they get complacent.” Maine has set up a number of training schools across the state that offer experienced-rider courses free of charge. The courses, which are subsidized by a grant from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, are designed to help motorcyclists drive more defensively, teaching bikers how to swerve or brake suddenly without skidding and losing control.

When crashes are caused by negligence

In the aftermath of a serious motorcycle accident, the personal injury lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing will investigate your case, establish liability and assist with all insurance claims. As veteran Maine accident attorneys, we will also diligently fight for the maximum accident settlement to account for pain and suffering, medical expenses, psychological injuries, long-term rehabilitation, lost wages and future earnings.

Don’t settle for less than you deserve; contact our offices at 1-800-INJURED for a free legal consultation to find out if you are eligible for compensation. There are no upfront fees until we secure a verdict or settlement on your behalf.

Five Overlooked Hazards that Present Summer Safety Risks

little girl in a float in a swimming pool

Child-safety-around-the-swimming-poolSchool is finally out and the summer is on its way. Along with the graduation parties, barbecues, and summer recreation, the sunny season brings a rise in injuries.

Sources ranging from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to hospital emergency rooms confirm that accidental injuries swiftly increase during the summer months, and many of those are preventable.

Common summertime injuries

Children are the most likely to get hurt in the summer months but adults are not immune. Kids often roam with less supervision once school is out while many adults switch into vacation mode, exercising less caution or enjoying an alcoholic beverage while kicking back at seasonal gatherings.

Examples of the most common summer injuries from the CDC include:

  • Swimming pools – drownings spike every June and July. The rise is greatest in children but the number of adult drownings rises as well. Life-changing diving injuries also increase; these make up nearly 5% of all spinal cord injuries.
  • Playground equipment– kids naturally use playgrounds more in the summer, having more free time and agreeable weather draws flocks of children to the jungle gym. The biggest prevention is to only let kids play on playgrounds while supervised, and to first check that the equipment appears safe and in-tact.
  • Bicycles – there is a reason children and adults alike should wear a helmet on a bicycle. Riding a bike puts one in the perfect position to sustain a traumatic head injury. Broken bones such as wrist fractures are also common.
  • Lawn mowers – A lawn mower may not be a first guess as a summer injury hazard but emergency room personnel see a definite hike in mower-related injuries in the summer months. Children too often treat a riding mower as a ride-on toy. Adults suffer cuts or amputations when they mow the lawn while wearing sandals or the mower hits an object like a rock.
  • Sun exposure – From severe sunburns that can cause cancer to heat stroke or dehydration, exposure to the hot summer sun can lead to serious injury. The risk can be minimized by covering up with sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, limiting the time spent in the sun, and drinking plenty of water.

Free consult with accident lawyers in Maine

Sometimes accidents just happen. Other times, someone or something is at fault. If a person or business is obligated to do or not do something but breaches that obligation, they may be negligent if the breach leads to injury. If a product has a defect that contributes to the damage, its manufacturer or distributor may be liable under product liability laws.

In cases of negligence, victims have rights and may be entitled to compensation that can include reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages as well as payment for emotional distress, lost companionship, and pain and suffering. Every accident has its own story that affects the victim’s right to compensation.

The best way to know if you are eligible for compensation is to contact a Maine personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Hardy Wolf & Downing has been fighting for the rights of injury victims in Portland and throughout Maine for the past 40 years. For a free consultation, 1-800-INJURED.

Head-on Collision in Orrington Injures 3

Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car

A head-on collision in Orrington last week sent three people to the hospital, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department. Officers have not yet released the victim’s names, but report that the accident happened on Route 15, near Pleasant Hill Lane.

The collision, which involved a motorcycle and a passenger car, is being investigated and witnesses are being interviewed to help determine a cause. Reconstruction experts are also working on the case to establish what happened in the minutes leading up to the crash.

The Sheriff’s Department confirmed that three people were transported to local hospitals, two with “serious” injuries, and the third with non-life threatening injuries.

Sergeant warns about safety during motorcycle season

Now that the temperatures are warming up, droves of motorcycle riders have been taking to the streets to enjoy recreational rides free of snow and ice. With more bikers on the road during the summer months, Maine motorists need to place extra attention on staying alert to surrounding traffic and sharing the road safely with motorcyclists, who have little in the way of protection in the event of an accident.

“This time of year, motorcycles are coming out. It’s nice weather. Operators of motor vehicles need to be cautious and aware that motorcycles are coming out and at an intersection, take that time to do a double look. Look twice. Look for the motorcycle riders,” cautioned Patrol Sgt. William Birch.

Severe injury, death more likely in motorcycle crashes

Nearly half of all fatal motorcycle accidents are the result of a bike colliding with a passenger vehicle, according to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An estimated 80 percent of motorcyclists suffer serious injury or death in auto-motorcycle crashes, compared to just 20 percent of car drivers and/or their passengers.

The NHTSA also reports that based on the average number of miles traveled, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than occupants in a passenger car to die in a crash.  Given these disturbing statistics, it pays for motorcyclists to heed safety precautions like:

  • Wearing a helmet
  • Wearing bright, reflective clothing
  • Ensuring their bike is in good working order
  • Anticipating road hazards
  • Never driving while impaired

Legal recourse for motorcycle crash victims

Even the most experienced and cautious motorcylists are at risk for catastrophic injury when they hit the road. Distracted drivers who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings may fail to register the low-profile of a biker at an intersection, and each year thousands of motorcycle riders are killed because of reckless drivers who turn in front of them.

If you were harmed in a crash by a negligent driver, the Maine motorcycle accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing have the resources and expertise to help. We will work hard to recover the compensation you rightfully deserve, whether through an insurance settlement or filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Potential liable parties include negligent drivers, the municipality in the event of poor road repairs, or manufacturers of defective parts.

Our Maine personal injury attorneys represent clients in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston and all of Southern and Central Maine areas. Call us at 1-800-INJURED for a free, no-obligation case review.

When the Unthinkable Happens: Liability in Swimming Pool Accidents

beautiful woman catches little girl jumping in pool against sea

woman catches little girl jumping in pool against seaDrowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children between the ages of one and four, according to the CDC. Swimming pools cause the greatest risk of submersion injury for children in this age group. When the unthinkable happens and a child is the victim of a swimming pool accident, who is liable?

Whether the pool is located on public property, in a private club or a personal residence, liability for pool accident can fall on the owner of the pool. In most cases, premises liability rules will determine who can be held responsible for the accident and the subsequent damages.

Pool accidents and premises liability

When the accident occurs in a public pool or a pool owned by a private club, product liability and negligence may also be factors in a pool accident. Product liability may be cited if there was an actual problem with the pool or pool equipment that contributed to the accident. Negligence refers to an action that may have contributed to the accident. This could apply to someone that built or serviced the pool or employees of the pool that are responsible for ensuring the safety of patrons.

If premises liability is the rule that will apply, the law will next determine what type of “entrant” used the facility. Invitees are those that paid to use the pool, which is typically the case of a patron that visited a public pool. Licensees are usually referred to as guests that were invited to use a private pool. The third category of entrants is trespassers and they are not typically covered under premises liability laws. The possible exception might be a young child who got into the pool because there were not sufficient barriers to keep him safely out, such as fences or alarms.

Not all accidents at pools will be the responsibility of the pool owner. For example, if a guest decides to run along the slippery ledge of the pool and falls and injures himself, the pool owner would not likely be held liable for the accident. Likewise, if a visitor dove into the pool from an inappropriate location and became injures, the pool owner would probably not be held responsible for the guest’s injuries.

Responsibility of swimming pool owners

On the other hand, pool owners may be held responsible for accidents due to lack of proper safety equipment or improper upkeep of the pool. Failure to post proper warning signs about potential hazards or in some cases, failure to provide adequate supervision like lifeguards can also make the owners liable for some pool accidents.

Residential pool owners may also be held liable for accidents involving children if they fail to provide appropriate barriers around the pool to prevent access. The specific rules governing those barriers vary from state to state, but fences around the pools, gates with locks and alarm systems are all potential features that might be required under state law.

If you or someone you love is injured in a pool accident, the process of navigating the liability laws can be too complex to attempt on your own. Experienced attorneys can help determine if you are eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit against the pool owner or another third party.

The team at Hardy, Wolf & Downing has been representing victims of swimming pool accidents for more than two decades. If you would like a free assessment of your case and answers to pressing legal questions, contact our Maine accident lawyers at 1-800-INJURED.

Pedestrian Safety Risks Analyzed at NTSB Forum

Pedestrian Walk Sign

Pedestrian Walk SignGovernment officials at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a public forum in Washington D.C. to discuss methods of improving pedestrian safety, as state and federal data shows pedestrian injuries and deaths have continued to increase in recent years.

The forum, held on May 10 2016, featured four panels, each of which looked at different facets of pedestrian safety. An estimated 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year in accidents with automobiles, and thousands more are severely injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research suggests that driver negligence contributes to a whopping 94 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, and pedestrians are the most vulnerable to catastrophic harm in the event of a knock-down.

Pedestrian injuries and deaths on the rise

Data from NHTSA shows that nearly 75 percent of all fatal pedestrian knock downs occur in urban areas, with the majority occurring at night and near an intersection. Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in these deaths, as nearly half of pedestrian fatalities in 2011 involved either the victim or the driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

Recent statistics regarding pedestrian accidents are not encouraging. The first half of 2015 saw 2,463 pedestrian deaths: a 10 percent spike from the same time frame the previous year. Those who travel by foot, wheelchair, skateboard or scooter are among the most vulnerable users of our nation’s roads and sidewalks. The CDC reports that pedestrians over the age of 65 accounted for 19 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2013, and that teenagers are more likely to need emergency room medical care for crash-related injuries when compared to other age groups.

Reckless driving, poor road conditions and inclement weather can all lead to accidents that harm pedestrians. Unfortunately, pedestrians are often at the mercy of motorists and their vehicles. Whether it’s a child walking home from school, or an elderly person attempting to cross a busy intersection, drivers need to be on the alert for pedestrians and use extra caution when driving near schools or crosswalks.

Some of the most common causes of pedestrian knock downs include:

  • Drivers who fail to watch for pedestrians while reversing or turning
  • Drivers who speed recklessly
  • Drivers who fail to obey stop lights or traffic signals
  • Drivers who operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Drivers who fail to look both ways when making a right turn into a crosswalk

Pedestrian accident attorneys in Maine

As is quite often the case in pedestrian auto accidents, catastrophic injuries can prove life-altering. Victims who suffer such debilitating harm may end up with permanent disabilities and unable to work, let alone pay hospital bills. Medical expenses for treating a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and spinal cord injury can put victims and their families on the edge of financial ruin.

A qualified personal injury lawyer can be allies for pedestrians harmed in crosswalks, parking lots, and other areas where knock downs are common. If you have been involved in a pedestrian auto accident in Maine, the attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing are prepared to evaluate your claim, start an investigation, assess your damages and pursue litigation on your behalf.

Because our legal team works on a contingency basis, there are no upfront costs, and the initial consultation is always free. Call 1-800-INJURED today to arrange a case review.

Researchers: Sixth Sense in Distracted Driving, But Not When Texting

car accident front end collision Cars-accident

A team of researchers from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute compared three common types of driving distractions, finding a sixth sense protects distracted drivers, but not while texting.

The study used 59 volunteers who each drove the same stretch of highway four times under varying conditions:

  • in a normal state;
  • while distracted by challenging questions;
  • while being asked emotionally charged questions; and
  • while texting.

The order of the drives was randomly selected to avoid a bias and the researchers found that with each type of distraction, volunteers responded with jittery steering. However, in the cases of emotionally-charged driving and cognitively engaged driving, the drivers followed a straighter path than even normal, safe driving. When texting, on the other hand, the drivers’ jittery steering led them to stray into other lanes.

Brain compensates for distraction when eyes stay on road

The researchers theorize that when faced with the distractions, the brain reacts on a “fight or flight” response, leading to the jittery handling of the wheel. This function involves activity in the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The scientists believe that as the ACC kicks into action, it counterbalances strong jitters with counter-jitters in the opposite direction, resulting in straight driving.

In the case of texting, however, the participants did not correct the jittery steering and instead deviated from their lanes. When the ACC corrects the jitters with counterbalancing action, it is relying on the driver’s eye-hand coordination. Texting, however, takes the driver’s eyes from the road and interrupts the counterbalancing effect. The uncorrected steering deviations are extremely dangerous and put the driver, and those sharing the road, at risk of an accident.

Texting keeps drivers’ eyes off road

The researchers explain that what is essentially a sixth sense protects the driver from straying into another lane but texting interrupts that sense. Other studies have shown that when a driver is texting, his eyes are off the road for five seconds; at freeway speeds, they cover the length of an entire football field while essentially blindfolded. This is a perilously long distance to travel without looking and without the benefit of the brain’s automatic correction function.

The problem of distracted driving is likely to grow in coming years. More than three quarters of drivers already own a smartphone and the newest drivers have grown up with them. As a result, teens have frighteningly casual attitudes about distracted driving; 20% do not believe texting while driving is dangerous and more than 40% confessed to reading or sending email while behind the wheel.

Liability in distracted driving lawsuits

Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and avoid harm to others on the road. In Maine, state laws also require that they not drive distracted. When someone injures another while violating this type of safety law, the victim may be entitled to compensation.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The Maine personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing are experts in negligence claims and represent injury victims throughout Portland, Lewiston, Auburn and Bangor. For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-INJURED.

Recreational Boating Accident Injuries Drop, Reports Coast Guard

Life buoy

Boating accident maineLast year saw 32 recreational boating accidents in Maine, and eight fatalities, reports The U.S. Coast Guard. According to its 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics, national boating accident related injuries are significantly lower than recent years, with 2,613 injuries in 2015. Boating deaths spiked just 2.6 percent from 2014, with 626 deaths last year.

While this figure is the third-lowest number on record, recreational boaters incurred momentous property damage this past year. Boaters were liable for a staggering $42 million in property damage in 2015, and $388,400 of this occurred right here in Maine.

Boating fatalities increase in 2015

Among the 626 victims of fatal boating accidents last year, 22 of the victims were children under the age of 13. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that more than half of these young victims died from drowning, and only two of them wore a life jacket at the time of the accident.

The Coast Guard reminds all recreational boaters to act responsibly while on the water, and to refresh their skills with a boat safety course. While on the water, boaters should always wear life jackets, avoid alcohol consumption, and outfit their engines with a cut-off switch.

Alcohol & operator inattention leading causes of boating accidents

Boating remains a popular pastime for Mainers, especially during the warmer spring and summer months. This past year, some 107,475 motorboats were registered in the state, which is nearly 1,000 more watercraft than 2014.

Boating accidents in Maine during 2015 resulted in 22 injuries and 8 deaths. It comes as no surprise that alcohol consumption was a leading factor in fatal boating accidents in Maine and across the country.

Other contributing factors to boating accidents in Maine include:

  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator inattention
  • Machinery malfunction
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper lookout

According to the 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report, in cases where the cause of death was known, three-quarters of boating accident victims had drowned. An estimated 85 percent of those who had drowned were not wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident.

Further investigations showed that 71 percent of boating accident deaths occurred on watercraft where the operator had not received boat safety training.

Injured on the water? Hardy, Wolf & Downing can help

The law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing has more than 30 years of experience pursuing injury claims on behalf of residents who’ve been harmed on New England’s waterways.  Many of our clients have suffered broken bones, head trauma, lacerations, burns and other debilitating harm at the expense of a reckless or intoxicated boater who did not operate their vessel in a safe or legal manner. Our boating accident attorneys have handled claims involving:

  • Personal watercraft
  • Cabin motorboats
  • Jet skis
  • Open motorboats
  • Fishing boats
  • Other types of vessels

Protect your legal rights in the wake of a boating accident; partner with a trusted Maine personal injury law firm that is results-oriented and puts clients first. A successful lawsuit can net damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages and other kinds of losses. For a free case evaluation, please call our office at 1-800-INJURED.

New OSHA Rules Aim to Curb Workplace Injuries

Factory worker calling for help after accident Factory worker calling for help after accident during work

Last week, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its new data reporting rule aimed at modernizing injury data collection. According to a recent OSHA news release, the new rule, which goes into effect August 10, 2016, is intended to “nudge” employers to increase precautions that reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.

OSHA rules require employer injury reports

Under the OSHA rules already in effect, employers must report many types of injuries and illnesses to the agency in order to help identify problems and prevent further injuries. Regulations require employers to notify OSHA of worker fatalities within 8 hours and a rule that was added last year, taking effect January 1, 2015, tightened the timeline for reporting nonfatal injuries. That recent rule requires that employers report serious injuries, including amputations, in-patient hospitalizations, or loss of an eye, within 24 hours.

The narrowed reporting timelines were adopted to allow OSHA to step in quickly and address situations that present ongoing safety threats for workers. The most recent adoption further fast-tracks the injury data collection and also provides for online data lookup to increase transparency.

Millions injured on the job each year

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, statistics show that there are more than 3,000,000 workers injured on the job each year. Citing behavioral economics methods, OSHA has decided to tackle the statistics by highlighting the injuries publicly. It reasons that employers are already required to gather and report injury-related information; the extra step of publicly disclosing the data on OSHA’s website will give employers the extra incentive to enact extra safety measures.

iStock_000075003217_work injury claim formAccording to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, employers will not want to be seen as operating a dangerous workplace, which could be interpreted as a sign of poor management. In a press release, OSHA likened the move to public disclosure of restaurant kitchen sanitation, which encourages restaurants to improve food safety.

The OSHA rule also protects employees from retaliation. To promote accuracy in reports and logs, employers must adopt procedures for injury reporting that do not discourage employees from providing information. Personally identifiable information is also removed from the reports before publishing online.

Workplace injury liability

The OSHA rules target preventable workplace injuries by placing incentives for employers to promote safety measures. When an employee is injured on the job, many times the employer is at fault. Sometimes the injury is instead caused by faulty equipment, the negligence of a vendor, safety personnel, or some other party that had access to the location. The question of liability can be complicated and state and federal laws sometimes limit who can be held accountable to an injured worker.

Maine workplace injury lawyers

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation, but the time to file a claim is limited by state and federal laws. The personal injury lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing are experts in workplace injury claims and have successfully represented injury victims in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and throughout Maine. To arrange a free legal consultation, please call 1-800-INJURED today.

Truck Driver Falls Asleep at the Wheel Causing Turnpike Crash

Car slipping on black ice

fast moving traffic on major highwayEarly last week, traffic on the Maine Turnpike near Farmingdale came to a virtual standstill following an incident in which a tractor-trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel, causing his vehicle to collide with a guardrail, according to officials from the Maine State Police.

Duncan MacPhee, of Prince Edward Island, was named as the driver of the vehicle, and neither he nor his lone passenger sustained injuries in the crash.

Incident responsible for delays

Witnesses and traffic officials reported that traffic on the affected stretch of the Turnpike was delayed for approximately 10 hours due to the collision involving a semi truck carrying a load of french fries. Crews immediately set to work removing debris and replacing over 100 feet of damaged guardrails. The incident produced backups on both north and southbound sides of Interstate 95, with traffic being reduced to a single lane for a significant portion of the morning.

Crash underscores dangers of drowsy driving

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland reported that MacPhee did indeed fall asleep at the wheel of his vehicle, a phenomenon responsible for an alarming number of commercial trucking accidents each year. Though it is unclear whether sleep apnea or other sleep-related disorders played a role in this particular incident, the problem of truck drivers falling asleep while operating their rigs has garnered increased attention in recent months.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed a rule which would require individuals in safety-sensitive positions within the transportation industry to undergo testing for obstructive sleep apnea which can lead to situations precisely like the one that occurred on the Maine Turnpike. Regulations of this type would serve to bolster existing rules concerning the number of hours truck drivers are permitted to be on the roads in between rest breaks.

Liability in commercial vehicle accidents

Though no injuries resulted from this particular crash, it is important to note that such events do not always have such happy endings. Sadly, it is all too common for innocent individuals with whom big rigs share the road to suffer life-changing injuries and even death due to the negligence of motor carrier personnel.

When tragedies of this nature occur, it is critical that victims and their families realize that the legal system provides them the opportunity to seek accountability as well as monetary compensation for their losses.

Liable parties may include:

  • Owners of trucking companies

  • Contractors responsible for maintaining the vehicle at issue

  • Suppliers of truck components and equipment

  • Truck manufacturers

  • Freight loading companies

It is important to keep in mind that those who own and operate commercial transportation enterprises may in fact be held liable for the acts and omissions of those they have in their employ. The key in any case of this type is for victims to align themselves with a seasoned truck accident attorney who can conduct a comprehensive investigation of the facts and determine who is to blame for the harm sustained.

Seasoned advocacy for victims across Maine

Since 1976, the personal injury attorneys of Hardy Wolf and Downing have been committed to pursuing and protecting the rights of injury victims across Maine. Decades of experience have given us unique insights into the challenges and struggles facing those who have been harmed by the negligence of others, and we stand ready to fight for justice and maximum financial compensation.

If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident and wish to learn more about how we can help, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

motorcyclists

Motorcycle-Turns-700px webAs Spring rolls out warmer temperatures and inviting landscapes, Maine motorcyclists can finally enjoy roadways that are free of ice and snow. But as legions of bikers return to the road for the riding season, their safety remains a chief concern. The month of May has been designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month across the nation, and Mainers are encouraged to stay alert and watch out for motorcycles, particularly at intersections and during lane changes and turns. In addition, The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration remind motorcyclists to make themselves more visible to other motorists.

In order to prevent injuries and motorcycle fatalities on Maine roads this year, we need responsible drivers who share the road with their two-wheeled counterparts, and motorcyclists who obey traffic laws, speed limits, and never ride while impaired.

Motorcycle accident-related deaths increase

An estimated 8 million motorcycles traverse the country’s roadways, and thousands can be found right here in Maine. Last year, Maine had a record-breaking 32 motorcycle accident-related deaths, the highest fatality rate for more than 25 years. Though motorcyclists make up a mere 3 percent of all registered vehicles, they account for almost 15 percent of all accident fatalities, according to the NHTSA.

Statistics indicate that helmet use can increase motorcyclists’ chance of survival by 29 percent in the event of an accident, yet Maine is one of 31 states that does not have mandatory helmet laws.

Bikers often complain that wearing a helmet interferes with their hearing or views of surrounding traffic. But these claims have been refuted by the NHTSA, which recently sponsored a study to assess the effect of helmet use in both arenas. The study, which included 50 riders of various skill levels and ages, found that “any negative interference of helmets on rider vision appears to be minor, especially in comparison to the protection offered by helmets should a crash occur.” Similarly, the NHTSA found that helmets did not diminish hearing ability at normal travel speeds.

Safety courses mandatory for beginners

In Maine, all new riders who are applying for a license are required to take a 15-hour motorcycle safety course. The course may prove invaluable to novice motorcyclists, as it contains both road experience and classroom instruction. Armed with knowledge and defensive driving tips, riders can more safely share the road with vehicles and hopefully avoid preventable injury.

Bikers can also increase their visibility to other motorists by using hand signals when turning and wearing bright clothing that is protective.

Motorists are asked to put their cell phones down while driving and check their blind spots twice before moving over. Distracted driving remains a huge concern for many avid bikers, who are more likely to suffer debilitating harm in the event of a crash.

Maine motorcycle accident lawyers can help

Whether caused by driver inattention, improper lane changes or a failure to yield, motorcycle accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries to the rider. If you’ve been injured by a negligent motorist, it’s important to protect your legal rights and preserve your chances of recouping fair compensation. A successful claim may yield damages for medical bills, lost income, pain, emotional suffering and other losses. 

To discuss your case with skilled personal injury attorneys in Maine, we invite you to contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing for a free consultation.  Our law firm offers steadfast advocacy for residents throughout Lewiston, Portland, Auburn and all of Central and Southern Maine.