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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


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.

Lowe’s Loses Slip and Fall Lawsuit, Ordered to Pay $16 Million

medical malpractice lawyer speaking to jury lawyer speaking to jury

In mid-April, a Nevada jury awarded a Lowe’s customer more than $16 million for a permanent head injury suffered at the store. Her lawyers hope that the decision will sway the hardware chain to reevaluate its safety practices.

In 2013, Kelly Hendrickson, 42, slipped and fell in the water and garden department while browsing for a palm tree. She struck her head on the concrete floor and as a result, permanently lost her senses of taste and smell and suffered other injuries as well. She claims that she did not see a cone to warn of the water while the store watered the plants, and contends that the store did not do enough to protect customers.

Jury deliberated only six hours

During an 11-day trial, the plaintiff argued that she could not see a yellow safety cone because Lowe’s personnel had placed it partially hidden by a table. Counsel for Lowe’s, on the other hand, argued that she had to have seen it as she walked around the planter table. They also argued that the cone and the water were “open and obvious”, putting Hendrickson on notice that she needed to be careful.

The jury deliberated only six hours before returning a verdict in favor Hendrickson. The award includes $1.9 million for medical expenses plus another $14.5 million for pain and suffering. The jurors, however, determined Hendrickson was 20 percent responsible and the finding may reduce the award to about $13.1 million. The jurors also rejected her request for punitive damages.

Proving slip and fall liability

Each day, we venture out into the world and into places where we have no control over the terrain – in places like stores and restaurants, someone else owns the property and is responsible for keeping it maintained. When a customer or other visitor slips and falls due to poor maintenance or some other property defect, they may be entitled to compensation.

To recover for injuries after a slip & fall accident on another’s property, plaintiffs must prove:

  • Duty – The defendant was in a position that required it to maintain the property;
  • Notice – The defendant knew or should have known about the defective condition that could cause harm;
  • Dangerous condition – The premises had a flaw that presented a danger, more than a minor defect, to the public; and
  • Damages – The plaintiff was injured as a result of the dangerous condition.

Many plaintiffs are not prepared to offer evidence in support of each of these elements and this can prevent recovery. It is therefore important to speak with a highly experienced slip and fall attorney who understands the nuances in such claims.

If you have seen your life turned upside down in an instant because of a serious slip and fall, you may be entitled to compensation. To discuss the details 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.

Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign Urges Motorists to Drive Cell Free

teens texting and driving

texting-driving-teensHardy, Wolf & Downing would like to spread the word about the National Safety Council’s annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, held in April. The NSC hopes to draw attention to the role that cell phones play in thousands of deadly car crashes and encourage people to put safety first.

To make it easy to share its message – Take Back Your Drive – the NSC website offers resources such as free posters, infographics, and tip sheets that can be downloaded or shared online. In an effort to motivate drivers to take action, the NSC has also sponsored a pledge to drive cell free. The pledge can be signed and shared on social media.

Cell phones distract driving in multiple ways

Distracted driving occurs whenever something or someone takes the driver’s attention away from driving. This includes talking or texting on a cell phone, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio or gps, or grooming. In 2014, more than 3,000 people were killed because of distracted driving. Twelve of those were in Maine. Another 431,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents.

Texting receives the most attention as a distraction because it so obviously takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Studies show that when a driver is texting, his eyes are off the road for five seconds – enough to cover the length of a football field when traveling at 55 mph. This behavior is far from rare, with one survey finding that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving. In the same survey, another three-quarters said that they have seen others text while driving.

It is not only texting that leads to phone-related crashes though. As the NSC campaign stresses, using a cellphone to talk, even with a hands-free device, significantly increases the risk of a crash.

Next generation of drivers even more distracted

Distracted driving has become a serious hazard as cell phones have become universal. By 2014, 80% of drivers owned a smartphone. The problem will, unfortunately, likely grow as a crop of new teen drivers who have literally grown up with cell phones takes to the roads. Ten percent of all teen drivers who were involved in fatal crashes reported that they were distracted at the time.

The problem of distraction by cellphone is so great that more than half of all adult cellphone drivers admit to being involved in a distracted walking encounter. This has contributed to a rise in pedestrian deaths in recent years even as overall traffic deaths have declined.

Recourse for injuries caused by distracted drivers

Many states have specifically enacted laws that make driving while using a cell phone illegal. Other states, like Maine, instead rely on more general laws against driving while distracted or texting while driving.

When someone injures another while violating a safety law designed to protect that harm, it can constitute negligence per se and may entitle the victim to compensation.

If your or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the Maine accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf and Downing. We are committed to providing personal attention while fighting aggressively for your rights.

To discuss your legal options during a free consultation, call 1-800-INJURED.

Helping Maine’s Seniors and Their Families Find Top-Quality Residential Care

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

Helping Grandmother WalkIt has been estimated that the total of Maine residents aged 85 and up will grow by approximately 90 percent by 2030. Clearly, this sizable segment of the population will place a heavy demand on the state’s long-term and residential nursing care resources which already serve a large number of the region’s seniors. However, when it comes time to identifying the right facility for a loved one, it can be extremely difficult to make important distinctions among available options and find an ideal fit.

We at Hardy, Wolf & Downing understand how critical it is for the most vulnerable among us to receive top-quality care once living independently is no longer sustainable. That is why we want everyone in Maine to learn more about A Place for Mom.

How A Place for Mom can help seniors and families

Established 15 years ago, A Place for Mom offers senior citizens and their families the tools necessary to find their way around an often complicated system of assisted living and other residential care options. Now the largest service of its type in the United States as well as Canada, A Place for Mom is focused on providing a customized experience for each family which draws upon in-depth expertise concerning local senior care facilities and committed advocacy for the well-being of our aging population.

A Place for Mom prides itself on its rigorous monitoring and reviews of facility licensing, regulatory violations, inspection reports and more. Senior Living Advisors even serve as mandatory reporters in suspected cases of elder neglect or abuse. The professionals employed by A Place for Mom work diligently to assemble the key facts families need in order to make informed decisions when choosing an appropriate, caring and comfortable place for their loved one to reside.

This assistance is particularly valuable in the state of Maine, which received only a “Basic” rating in terms of general accessibility of public records concerning senior care facilities, ranking 37th in the company’s analysis of state-by-state records transparency. A Place for Mom aggregates facility data, assesses individual client needs and preferences and helps connect families to communities well-suited to their requirements. Even better, A Place for Mom does this at no charge to participating seniors.

Combating the epidemic of nursing home neglect and abuse

Though it is certainly true that a large number of nursing care facilities in Maine provide the sort of compassionate attention senior citizens need and deserve, there are too many instances in which residents are subjected to devastating abuse and neglect. With seniors aged 65 and over projected to comprise almost 20% of the U.S. population by 2050, this is an issue to which we all must pay increased attention. With the National Center on Elder Abuse suggesting that roughly half of all nursing homes in the U.S. lack sufficient staffing to properly care for residents, it should come as no surprise that an unacceptable level of abuse and neglect goes unpunished each year. Vigilance about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse is essential to rooting out this problem once and for all.

Advocating for seniors across Maine

At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, we urge everyone to remain attuned to any noticeable behavioral changes in seniors residing in a nursing care facility. Specifically, take prompt action to investigate the cause if you observe:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Bruising
  • Bedsores
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Aggression
  • Hygiene problems
  • Any other manifestations uncharacteristic of your loved one

If you suspect neglect or abuse, our elder abuse attorneys stand ready to explore the facts of your case and help you assess your legal options. For a confidential consultation, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

Family: Maine Med Patient’s 6th Story Jump Not Suicide

lifestyle photo of a young caucasian man as he waits in a hospital examination room

male patientA man who jumped from a sixth story window in the Richards Tower of the Maine Medical Center last month was not attempting suicide but, rather, suffering from impaired judgment due to a brain injury, according to his family.  The man, identified as Paul Cady of Hollis, was recovering from a motorcycle accident that took place on March 9.  He opened a window in the center on March 29 and stepped out, dying shortly thereafter from his injuries. His daughter Miranda believes that he was confused and was trying to leave the hospital and go home. He leaves behind three children.

Cady was staying in the neurology intermediate care unit on the sixth floor of the center where, according to information given to the Portland Press Herald by hospital spokesman Clay Holtzman, patients recover from trauma or neurological procedures.

He suffered head trauma as a result of the motorcycle accident and was initially comatose; however, he was making progress recently, according to his family, and was walking and talking. Miranda Clay told CBS 13 that the family is still confused about how the accident could have happened but want everyone to know at this point that it was not a suicide attempt.

Fatal fall under investigation

Cady’s family had no idea that windows in the unit opened and say that they are left with several questions following the accident. Miranda Cady said that hospital staff monitored their father, but that he was apparently left alone long enough to slip out the window and fall to his death.

Depending on when the hospital was built, various regulations govern the construction of windows installed in the facility. The incident is being investigated by Maine’s Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, according to a spokesperson from that regulatory body and as confirmed by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Maine Medical Center issued a statement concerning the investigation, saying that “our thoughts go out first and foremost to the individual’s family during this very difficult time, as well as our shocked and deeply saddened staff.” They did not answer questions about the incident.

Family searches for answers, legal advice

Paul Cady’s family says that they are looking for answers about how this accident could have happened and have met with a lawyer. If facilities were not up to standards or if staff violated protocol regarding patient safety, Cady’s family may have a strong legal case against the hospital and its staff.

Families of hospital patients, particularly those compromised by neurological problems, should be able to rely on hospital staff to keep their loved ones safe. If insufficient supervision or other lapses in care resulted in accidents like the one that Cady suffered, those families may be owed compensation and can pursue a wrongful death claim.

If you believe that a family member has suffered an accident, injury, or abuse as a result of inadequate supervision or substandard facilities, please contact the Maine accident attorneys of Hardy, Wolf, & Downing to better understand your legal rights.

You can set up a no-cost, no-obligation case review at your convenience by calling 1-800-INJURED.

SUV Plunges Off Bath Bridge, Injuring Windham Woman

Car Wreck with Smashed Hood and Ambulance Car Wreck with Smashed Hood and Ambulance

Roadway surface conditions may have been a factor in a serious car accident that occurred on a Route 1 viaduct in Bath last week. Around 2:30 p.m., 37-year-old Melissa Medina was driving south on the upper level of the viaduct, when she lost control of her Mercury SUV and smashed through the guardrail, plunging over the side of the bridge. Just moments earlier, Roy Ordway, who was entering an on-ramp to Route 1, used his windshield wipers to clear away what he figured was a large piece of ice. But mere seconds later, Medina’s SUV landed upside down on the bed of Ordway’s Ford pick-up, missing the cab by a few inches.

Bath Police Chief Michael Field confirmed that Medina’s 2003 Mountaineer went over the viaduct’s barricade in the southbound lane, knocking off a sizeable 50-foot section of aluminum guardrail that capped the top of the barrier. Medina was accompanied by her 12-year-old son at the time of the accident.  Field said that Ordway escaped harm, while Medina and her son suffered from non-life-threatening injuries. Both she and her child were transported to Portland’s Maine Medical Center. As of last Wednesday, Medina’s condition was listed as stable. Authorities have not released information about the boy’s condition.

Windham woman survives SUV accident off Bath bridge

Ordway’s Ford F-150 truck was totally destroyed in the crash– save for the cab. “But all things considered, from what police and rescue are saying, I’m glad my truck was there to break the fall,” he told Bangor Daily News, adding “I think my truck took some of the impact away” from Medina’s SUV.

Bath police Lt. Robert Savary told reporters that he couldn’t confirm whether Ordway’s truck saved Medina and her son from certain death. Preliminary investigations into the accident suggest that Route 1 was extremely slick that Monday afternoon. Although crews had just salted the road shortly before the crash, some suspect black ice may have been a culprit. At this time, Bath police do not suspect distracted driving, speed or alcohol impairment were factors in the crash. Law enforcement said that charges will probably not be filed.

A Maine Department of Transportation spokesperson said that the impact of the collision “sheared off” the metal guardrail on the top of the barrier. With most other causes ruled out, officials suspect that roadway conditions may have played a role in the accident. Any motorists who saw the crash are urged to contact police Detective Sgt. Andrew Booth with additional information.

Integrity of guardrails a concern

Savary did not comment on the integrity of the aluminum guardrails on the Bath viaduct, which is slated to be demolished next month and replaced after serving Mainers for more than 70 years.

Per federal laws, all bridges across the nation must be inspected every two years. Local officials could not confirm when the Bath viaduct was last inspected for defects or necessary repairs.  In the event that guardrails and barriers were not up to grade, injured parties may be able to pursue a civil claim against the municipality for monetary damages. Litigation based on improper or negligent road repairs may seek compensation to account for:

  • Property damage
  • Hospital bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

During winter, accidents caused by snow and black ice are also common. The most pivotal factor when considering liability in a car accident is whether or not the motorist acted reasonably, even in the presence of inclement weather and slick road conditions. When attempting to determine fault in these types of crashes, insurance adjustors look at multiple facets including speed at the time of the accident, whether the car’s tires were in good condition and if the vehicle had been properly serviced.

If you or someone you love was harmed in a motor vehicle accident in Maine, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you navigate insurance and legal issues. Hardy, Wolf and Downing can help you recover the auto accident settlement you deserve in the wake of a serious crash. You can arrange a free case review by calling our office at 1-800-INJURED.