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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.

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.

Updated OSHA Reporting Requirements Yield Workplace Accident Data

scaffolding

2-construction-workersNow that the first year under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) new workplace injury reporting requirements has come and gone, the agency is now assessing the implications of the data gleaned in the past 12 months and what it may reveal about employer-based safety initiatives and precautions.

In support of that effort, OSHA has released a document discussing the over 10,000 serious work-related harm reported during 2015 in federal OSHA-adherent states.

New rules expand reporting parameters

Though employers were already under an obligation to report fatal workplace accidents to OSHA within eight hours of their occurrence, new new rules resulted in OSHA receiving additional reporting of more than 7,000 events requiring hospitalization and more than 2,500 amputation events stemming from workplace incidents.

The statistics reveal that approximately 30 severe workplace injuries happened on a daily basis, indicative of the presence of real danger on an unacceptable number of worksites. The report further states that the majority of hazardous conditions leading to the injuries reporting to OSHA are preventable, and could have been reduced if employers had taken steps such as offering additional fall protection devices, erecting guardrails near large machinery or insisting on clearer marking of pathways.

Self-reporting and analysis encouraged by OSHA

The agency states that one of the main goals of the new reporting framework is to urge employers to engage in self-evaluation of their equipment and processes so that issues can be identified and corrected in a timely fashion. OSHA claims that working in collaboration with the agency has helped numerous employers reduce risks to workers and develop protocols from which others can benefit. The guiding principle, according to OSHA, is that if employers interact with the agency following a severe injury to a worker, they will be more inclined to take remedial action, whether or not a formal inspection process is commenced.

New rules helpful, yet reporting remains incomplete

Despite OSHA’s detailing of several workplace incidents which, after reporting, led to significant employer-driven safety improvements, agency officials themselves admit that the system remains imperfect when it comes to rooting out all danger.

According to Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels, OSHA is encouraged by the past year’s participation in the new reporting scheme, but suggests that the true number of severe injuries is likely double what was actually reported. Furthermore, there just are not enough OSHA inspectors for every potentially problematic workplace to receive personal attention from agency staff. Therefore, there is little choice but to rely on self-reporting to a certain degree, and that can invite attempts by unscrupulous employers to skirt the rules.

Compensation for victims of workplace injuries

The Maine worker’s compensation system is in place to provide much-needed financial assistance for individuals injured in the workplace. However, by accepting worker’s compensation payments, workers are required to forfeit their ability to sue their employer for any acts or omissions which may have led to the harm sustained. While the resources provided by worker’s compensation may suffice in some individual cases, there are many other families for which these payments are grossly insufficient to cover all of the financial and other losses suffered in the aftermath of a workplace accident. This can be particularly true in cases where the event resulted in a fatality and one or more dependents are left behind.

For this reason, victims of workplace accidents caused by negligence may wish to consider the possibility of filing a third-party lawsuit against an entity besides their employer. This can be an effective alternative, provided that negligence on the part of another party contributed to or caused the injury event.

There are a number of potential targets of a third-party claim of this type, including:

  • heavy equipment manufacturers

  • public utilities

  • subcontractors

  • truck drivers and crane operators

  • architects

  • engineers

  • construction project managers

Advocacy for injured Mainers

At Hardy, Wolf and Downing, our Maine accident lawyers have dedicated their careers to vindicating the rights of the injured, and we are committed to delivering the personal service and aggressive advocacy our clients deserve. Because we accept injury cases on a contingency basis, our clients owe nothing unless we secure a financial recovery on their behalf. To discuss your unique situation and begin the process of exploring your legal options, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

More Pedestrians Killed in Motor Vehicle Crashes Last Year, GHSA Reports

Pedestrian Walk Sign

Pedestrian Walk SignTroubling statistics on pedestrian fatalities have been reported by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA). According to the GHSA’s most recent report, pedestrians made up 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014 and will likely do so in 2015. GHSA estimates that the number of pedestrian fatalities will increase by 10-percent between 2014 and 2015.

The last time pedestrians made up 15 percent of all fatalities was 25 years ago. In addition, the new report found that pedestrian deaths have been on a steady increase since 2005, when the pedestrian fatality rate was 11 percent. The current study is based on preliminary data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Pedestrian deaths by state

Pedestrian deaths vary widely from state to state, with Vermont showing no fatalities for the first half of 2015 and California showing 347. Maine saw five fatalities during the first half of 2015, which was the same number of pedestrian deaths in the state during the first half of 2014. Maine was one of just three states that saw no change in this statistic between the two years. More than half, 26 had increases in pedestrian fatalities, while 21 saw decreases in their numbers.

Nearly three-fourths of pedestrian deaths occurred when it was dark, the study found. More than one-third involved pedestrians with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. The majority of all pedestrian fatalities occurred in areas that were not intersections while one-fourth to one-third occurred at intersections. The rate of fatalities was similar across all the age groups.

Strategies to prevent deaths

The report also includes evidence-based strategies that could effectively reduce pedestrian accidents and deaths. Some of those include steps to separate pedestrians and motor vehicles, such as sidewalks and refuge islands. Other strategies focus on improving visibility of pedestrians, through high-visibility crosswalks and improved street lighting. Finally, the GHSA listed ways in which motor vehicle speed could be reduced, since higher speeds were associated with a higher rate of pedestrian deaths. These include roundabouts, speed humps and automated enforcement.

Public education is another recommendation in the GHSA’s report, which noted that education has always been a factor in reducing accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians. Steps in this direction have included a speed campaign toolkit created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and “Share the Road” and other branded campaigns.

Liability in pedestrian accidents

When a driver hits a pedestrian, it may be assumed the driver is always at fault. However, that is not the case. Negligence on the part of both the driver and the pedestrian can lead to the accident, which means either one can fail to exercise a reasonable standard of care for the circumstances. For example, a pedestrian may cross a street illegally, rather than using a crosswalk. Drivers may be negligent by traveling at excessive speeds or participating in distracting activities like texting.

When determining liability in an accident between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle, numerous factors must be considered. Expert legal assistance is usually required to ensure the victim receives the appropriate compensation.

To speak with experienced Maine accident attorneys about your case, please call Hardy, Wolf & Downing at 1-800-INJURED for a free consultation and answers to your legal questions.

Truckers Non-Compliant with Sleep Apnea Therapy at Risk for Crashes

Maine truck accident lawyers

trucks on the freewayTruck drivers who fail to adhere to their prescribed sleep apnea treatment significantly increase their risk of serious preventable crashes, according to a recently published study on the subject.

The study compared 1,613 truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea with the same number of comparable drivers without the condition. The drivers with sleep apnea were given a positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that downloaded objective data concerning the drivers’ adherence to their treatment. The study found that drivers who completely or even partially adhered to the treatment were involved in crashes at about the same rate as the control group, while the non-compliant truckers increased their crash rate by five times.

The study was conducted by researchers involved in the Truckers and Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and published on-line in the journal Sleep on March 21.  Lead author Stephen V. Burks, PhD, concluded that “the results of our study support the establishment of obstructive sleep apnea screening standards for all drivers through the commercial driver’s medical exam.”

Sleep apnea poses a crash risk for truckers

Currently, federal guidelines rely on truck drivers to self report sleep apnea problems as part of a general assessment for their physical fitness for duty.  However, various safety organizations have advocated for stronger and more wide-ranging guidelines regarding sleep apnea and driving, given the risks involved.  According to some estimates 25 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, which can result in daytime sleepiness and drowsy driving.  The CPAP treatment keeps the airways open during sleep by providing a steady stream of air administered through a mask.

The data from the current study was gathered as part the trucking company Schneider’s 2006 screening, diagnosis, and treatment program for its employees.  A team was put in place to help drivers maintain their CPAP treatment.  Schneider employees who did not comply with a treatment program were ultimately removed from their positions due to the safety hazards they posed to themselves and others on the road.

However, there is nothing to prevent such drivers from taking positions with other firms, most of which due not conduct such rigorous screening.  The study suggests that there may be many truck drivers on the road who pose drowsy driving crash risks that are not being properly monitored.

Liability in a drowsy driving accident

Drowsy driving is at the root of a large number of serious crashes, including those involving commercial vehicles. Drivers, including those who operate big rigs, who are aware of  their sleep apnea condition but did not properly treat it may be held liable in a court of law for any accident that results due to sleep deprivation.

All motorists are responsible for driving in a state of mental alertness, not compromised by factors such as alcohol, drug use, or exhaustion.  In cases where a trucking company knew about and did not reasonably respond to sleep apnea risks in its drivers, that company may also be legally responsible for resulting accidents.

In truck crashes caused by negligent or drowsy driving, victims may file a personal injury lawsuit in pursuit of fair compensation for lost income, hospital bills, emotional trauma and other losses.

Maine car accident victims are encouraged to contact the law offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing to learn about their options for legal recourse. To speak with a truck accident lawyer about your case, please call l 1-800-INJURED. The consultation is free and without obligation.

Durham Woman Dies From Injuries Sustained in Head-On Crash

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

A Durham woman has died from injuries that she sustained on Friday, March 11, during a head-on collision in Topsham. Christina Babnaw, 44, died in the hospital on Saturday night, March 12, as confirmed on Sunday morning by Topsham police Sgt. Mark Gilliam.

The accident took place near the 800 block of Middlesex Road, according to town police. Babnaw was driving her 2009 Toyota sedan with one passenger, Joshua White, 21, also of Durham, in the car when she collided with a 2008 Hyundai SUV driven by Bruce Hanson, 65, of Harpswell. With him in the car was Taylor Hanson, 32. Only one of the four parties involved in the accident was wearing seat belt; however, authorities did not name that individual.

Fire emergency vehicles were called to extract both drivers, who were trapped in the vehicles. Both passengers were able to exit the vehicles on their own. Joshua White, Bruce Hanson, and Taylor Hanson were all treated at the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. By Sunday, White, who had suffered a broken pelvis, and Bruce Hanson were listed in satisfactory condition. Taylor Hanson had been released.

Speed believed to be a factor in Topsham crash

Police believe that speed may have been a central factor in the crash and that Babnaw may have been trying to catch up with another vehicle. The collision occurred when Babnaw veered off the right side of the road and then crashed into an oncoming vehicle as she reentered the roadway.

Failing to stay in one’s lane and running in to on-coming traffic is one of the typical causes of head-on collisions. Such a failure may occur because of driver distraction (including use of phones or other hand-held devices) or impairment (as in a drunk driving case). In some cases, poorly marked roadways or lack of accurate signs may also be a culprit.

A driver who strikes another vehicle head-on due to distraction, impairment, or recklessness of any kind may be liable in a court of law for the injuries or fatalities that occurred as a result of his or her negligence.

Compensation for victims in head-on crashes

In certain situations, accidents that result in significant injuries and/or death may warrant legal action if  negligence was a contributing factor. A successful car accident lawsuit may seek damages for medical expenses or long term rehabilitation costs, loss of income or earning potential, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of consortium, wrongful death, and other losses.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injury in a head-on collision as the the result of another driver’s negligent behavior, contact the Maine personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing. A free case review can be set up at your convenience by dialing 1-800-INJURED.