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Wintry Weather Increases Risk for Slip & Fall Accidents

shoveling snow

icy sidewalkMaine residents are no strangers to snowy, icy, and otherwise inclement weather conditions. During the winter, the focus is often on the roadways. However, sidewalks and other walking areas can give rise to serious injuries if they are not properly maintained by property owners.

In Maine, property owners, lessees, and all other individuals who have control or possession of property have a duty to exercise reasonable care to promote the safety of anyone on their grounds. In the event that a person slips and falls on an icy or snow-covered surface, he or she might have the basis for a premises liability lawsuit.

Slip and fall accidents

Although anyone may suffer an injury from slipping and falling on an icy surface, certain people may be at a higher risk. These include the elderly, the disabled, and people taking certain medications that may increase the risk of dizziness or impaired coordination. Walking with one’s hands in one’s pockets is also a potential hazard because it can impair the individual’s ability to regain balance when slipping on ice. Even when an individual exercises care when traversing icy areas, poor upkeep of walking surfaces can easily lead to a serious slip and fall.

A fall can injure any part of the body. However, some of the most common slip and fall injuries include bone fractures such as fractures of the hip and arm. Slip and fall victims may also suffer from head trauma. In some of these cases, a mild concussion may result; however, brain injuries can sometimes lead to lifelong disability. Some slip and fall accidents may cause spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis.

Understanding premises liability cases

Not every tumble can be attributable to a property owner’s negligence. However, if you sustained injuries in the slip and fall incident, you may have legal recourse available to you. Premises liability claims are based on negligence. In order to bring a claim against the defendant, a personal injury lawyer must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The defendant may be a municipality if the incident occurred on public property, such as a public sidewalk or street. Or, if the incident occurred on private property or on a sidewalk that a property owner was responsible for maintaining, this individual may be named as a defendant.

Second, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care by failing to clear snow and ice from the property in a timely manner. Some municipalities have ordinances that set a specific window of time during which property owners must clear away snow and ice after a storm. Additionally, plaintiffs must prove that the negligence of the property owner directly led to the accident and caused the injuries.

As experienced Maine accident lawyersHardy, Wolf & Downing would like to offer complimentary, no-obligation case reviews to residents who have been injured on another person’s property, whether outside an apartment building, a private residence or public place.

Call 1-800-INJURED to contact our law offices in Portland and Lewiston.

Driver Gets 3 Years in Fatal Crash on New Year’s Eve 2014

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

A man responsible for the death of his fiancée in a car crash last New Year’s Eve has been sentenced to three years in prison. Shawn MacNevin was more than twice the legal limit in his blood alcohol level last year, when he crashed his car into a tree, killing his fiancée and the mother of his four children. MacNevin was sentenced on October 1, after pleading guilty to charges of manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence of intoxicants.

MacNevin and his fiancée, Elizabeth Marie Horlieca, were coming home from a New Year’s Eve party when the crash occurred. According to a report at the Bangor Daily News, witnesses were prepared to testify that Horlieca had not wanted to get into the vehicle with MacNevin that night because of his drinking. Witnesses were also prepared to tell a jury that Horlieca had tried to persuade MacNevin to spend the night at the home where the party was thrown.

Vehicle found with victims inside

The vehicle was found by six people also returning home from a New Year’s Eve party who noticed ice and snow strewn about the roadway. After searching, they found MacNevin’s vehicle smashed against a tree. At that time, no pulse was detected for Horlieca.  Neither MacNevin nor Horlieca were wearing seatbelts before the crash.

The medical examiner reported that Horlieca died from a broken neck. MacNevin was also taken to an area hospital after the crash with injuries that were reported as not life-threatening.

Driver pleads guilty

MacNevin pleaded guilty to the charges on September 24. The judge overseeing the case, Superior Court Justice William Anderson stated that he wanted time to determine how long MacNevin should spend behind bars. The arrest follows three prior drunk driving convictions; two in 1998 and one in 1996.

Prosecution in the case asked for four years in prison, while defense tried to get the sentence shortened to two years. In addition to the three years behind bars, MacNevin also received a 10-year license suspension and four years of probation.

A report at WCSH 6 noted the judge took into consideration the position of MacNevin’s family, which pleaded for MacNevin to receive probation so he could continue to work and support his children. Three of the four are still minors and lived with their parents at the time of the crash.

DUIs in Maine

A report at the Portland Press Herald found that more than 158,000 Maine residents have had at least one drunk driving offense in the past 30 years. More than 47,000 have had offenses in the past 10 years. Drivers with those offenses receive a clean record after 10 years under Maine law.

In an effort to curb accidents involving DUIs, Maine has instituted Operating Under the Influence or OUI. This makes driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.8% or more a criminal offense. After arrest, the Secretary of State will automatically suspend the license of the guilty driver, even prior to a first court appearance.

States along the East Coast are also banning together this holiday season to keep one of the busiest highways in the country as safe as possible for the New Year. The initiative, which will span December 26-31, will crack down on dangerous driving on I-95 corridor. Officials will be on the lookout for distracted driving, seat belt violations and potential DUIs. Maine is one of 15 states participating in this initiative.

The legal team at Hardy, Wolf & Downing urges motorists to practice safe, responsible driving throughout the holiday season.

In the event of injury on the road, our experienced Maine accident attorneys are ready to evaluate your case and provide answers to all of your legal questions. Call 1-800-INJURED to set up a consultation anytime.

5 Things to Know About Winter Weather Driving & Liability

Driving in winter weather

icy winter roadsIf the Farmers’ Almanac is any predictor of the 2016 winter outlook in Maine, residents can expect an average temperature of 19 degrees, weekly snow and ice, and intermittent periods of rain. With these estimates, drivers from Caribou to Augusta may be in for slippery and treacherous conditions from now until April – creating a perfect storm for potential vehicle accidents and injuries.

5 tips for staying safe on dangerous Maine roads in winter

The following  highlights some of the most important aspects of winter weather liability, particularly as pertaining to roadway accidents and injuries:

  1. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime – Even on a seemingly innocuous winter day, hidden ice pockets can form in potholes, divets, and alongside the roadway shoulder. As well, “black ice” is a common issue plaguing Maine drivers at nighttime, causing high numbers of accidents due to unforeseen or unnoticed icy conditions. While traveling, keep in mind that – if the temperature is below freezing – ice and snow will persist, so always take proper precautions.
  2. Avoid distraction – Winter weather liability is about more than ice and snow, and driver attentiveness is a preeminent concern since the advent of web-enabled smartphones. While traveling Maine’s roadways this winter, avoid the temptation to check email, answer a text, or talk on the phone at all. In the event of an accident, one of the first factors police and plaintiffs consider is whether the other driver was texting or surfing the web at the time of the collision – which could create a significant issue for the driver later.
  3. Travel at appropriate speeds – It goes without saying that drivers should slow down during snow and ice storms. However, it is often recommended that drivers travel under the posted speed limits during particularly inclement weather. If snow, sleet or freezing rain are falling, take heed and reduce your speed accordingly – a step that could make all the difference in avoiding a perilous accident.
  4. When in doubt, don’t go out – Horror stories abound concerning the plight of drivers who attempted to travel in severe blizzards and “white out” storms. During the most severe storms, drivers can get lost even while traveling down the most familiar backroads and highways. When this happens, it is exceedingly difficult for responders to locate the vehicle or – even worse – for the driver to find his or her way to help. In most cases, the reason for traveling can wait.
  5. Be reasonable – Under the laws of negligence, a driver may face liability for engaging in unreasonably dangerous behavior while behind the wheel. In winter months, this could include following too closely, speeding, or failing to adjust driving patterns for the inclement weather. During a car accident lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to follow reasonable standards of safety and caution given the circumstances at the time of the crash – which could involve any of the above-listed factors.

Contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing today 

At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, we are experienced in personal injury and negligence – particularly pertaining to harsh winter weather. For help with your case, give us a call today: 1-800-INJURED.

“10 Worst Toys” List for 2015

Mother Hugging Child

mom_hugging_childWith the holiday season in full swing, nonprofit consumer watchdog group World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) has released its 2015 “10 Worst Toys” list as a means to sway parents away from purchasing dangerous items for their youngsters.

According to W.A.T.C.H., there is an “alarming number” of hazardous toys available in stores and online this year, and that it is incumbent on everyone to avoid these potential dangers.

“10 Worst Toys” according to W.A.T.C.H.

This year’s list of dangerous playthings is relatively diverse, including items ranging from pull-along stuffed toys to child-sized trampolines. The dangers posed by the the group’s selections include choking, strangulation, eye injuries, facial injuries and allergy-related harm.

According to the watchdog organization, parents should not purchase:

  • “Bud” Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along

  • DG.Jiefeng Toys’ Foam Dart Gun

  • Stats 38-inch Quick Folding Trampoline

  • Poo-Dough by Skyrocket Toys

  • Splat X Smack Shot by Imperial Toy

  • Kick Flipper from Playsmart, Inc.

  • Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword from Playmates International

  • Kid Connection Doctor Play Set

  • Early Learning Centre’s Pull Along Zebra

  • Hasbro’s Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws

Group aims to stop preventable injury due to unsafe toys

The purpose of the W.A.T.C.H. List is to assist parents who may unintentionally purchase unsafe products as holiday gifts. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported a total of nine fatalities related to toys in 2013, in addition to over 256,000 emergency room treatment visits stemming from the use of toys. W.A.T.C.H. States that its mission involves encouraging corporate responsibility in the marketplace and boosting consumer awareness of hazards.

Protecting the most vulnerable among us

All parents want to ensure that their children learn and play in the safest possible environment. This desire makes it all the more disturbing when product manufacturers design, produce and market toys and other items ultimately shown to be unacceptably hazardous. Whether the subject of a formal recall or not, dangerous playthings have the potential to cause life-altering injuries and even death.

When such a tragedy occurs, many parents exercise their rights to pursue a product liability lawsuit against manufacturers, distributors and others involved in getting the offending items into the stream of commerce.

Plaintiffs may be able to secure compensation for the following losses:

  • Current, past and future medical expenses

  • Necessary physical therapy services

  • Physical pain and suffering

  • Emotional trauma and distress

  • Funeral expenses, where necessary

When misfortune strikes and you or a loved one suffer significant injuries or worse as the result of a defectively designed product, or an item marketed without sufficient warnings, you may feel frustration, uncertainty and anger.

The product liability lawyers at Hardy Wolf and Downing have dedicated our careers to helping injury victims assert their rights to financial recovery, corporate accountability and justice. To schedule a no-cost initial evaluation of your case, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

Study Shows Slowing of Brain Blood Flow Following Concussion

Xray of concussion

concussionThough still considered preliminary in nature, recent research findings suggest that patients who experience a concussion may suffer reduced blood flow to the brain even after symptoms of the trauma are deemed to have subsided. The study was unveiled early this month as part of the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting, and was led by Dr. Yang Wang of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Its authors emphasize that it is too early to know the full implications of the study, as it has yet to be subjected to peer review.

Details of concussion study

Researchers involved in this study closely observed 18 young football players following concussion events, ultimately discovering that those individuals had continued low blood flow to the brain, even once their concussion symptoms had abated for a period of time. Advanced MRIs of these individuals were taken and compared to those of football players who did not sustain concussions. Brain scans were done one day following the injury and again a week later.

It was found that players who experienced concussion injuries showed reduced blood flow to the brain eight days following the impact, even when their symptoms had disappeared, something which happened to nearly all subjects by the time their second evaluation was conducted. Typical symptoms of concussions include nausea, confusion, gradually worsening headaches, dizziness and mood changes. No blood flow change whatsoever was seen in the football players who had not sustained an injury.

Lasting effects of concussions remain unclear

The topic of concussions in children and young adults has generated significant discussion in recent years, with more than one study suggesting that the effects of these injuries can last for longer than many believed. A 2013 study in the American Journal of Neurology showed that even mild concussions were capable of harming the brain well after conventional symptoms are gone.

Researchers have also posited that noteworthy brain damage can occur after just a single concussion event and that children are especially susceptible to experiencing lingering effects. The consequences of reduced blood flow to the brain revealed in this recent research are uncertain, but will likely spur additional study.

Profound impact of traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries occur not just among athletes in sports competitions, but are sadly all too common in car accidents, workplace mishaps, slip and fall events and attendant to violence inflicted by another. The effects of such harm vary widely among victims, but can include cognitive impairment, memory loss, anxiety disorders, speech difficulties, seizures and more. When such devastating changes are the result of another party’s negligence, the tragedy for entire families is compounded all the more. Lost wages, medical expenses, home accessibility modifications and emotional strain can combine to place personal and financial survival in real jeopardy.

If you or a loved one have suffered a serious brain injury due to the acts or omissions of another, we understand the frustration, anger and perhaps hopelessness you may be feeling. The Maine personal injury lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing are prepared to review the facts of your case and provide you with honest insights about available legal options. To arrange your free case evaluation, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

Maine Car Accidents Claim 2 Lives Over Thanksgiving Holiday

Broken windshield after car crash Car with broken windshield after crash with pedestrian

Two Maine residents were killed in separate car accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, reports the Portland Press Herald. The traffic fatalities send a stark reminder to buckle up and stay safe this month, which marks one of the year’s busiest travel times. Besides increased congestion on the roads and highways, Maine residents are also faced with snow and icy conditions, making it much easier to skid and lose control.

Stephen McCausland, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, confirms at least 138 car accident fatalities on Maine roads this year. This death toll includes a 64-year-old Blaine resident and a 49-year-old woman from Hermon who were killed over the holiday weekend.

Car crashes claim the lives of two Maine residents

The first crash happened in the Aroostook County hamlet of Blaine on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Authorities report that 64-year-old Nathan Smith died of injuries he sustained when his vehicle crossed into incoming traffic on Robinson Road. Police say that Smith was driving a 1998 Toyota Corolla, which suddenly crossed into the westbound lane, before colliding with a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Spencer Garrison, age 19. Garrison survived the car crash, while Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

State police who were on the scene say that both vehicles sustained heavy damage, and surprisingly, neither man was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the collision. Officials are still looking for reasons why Smith would have crossed into the wrong lane and say the accident is still under investigation.

The second crash claimed the life of 49-year old Sandra Gifford, who apparently lost control of her car in Penobscot County while traveling on Interstate 95. The accident occurred just south of Medway. The Hermon woman was traveling with her husband, age 55, when her Subaru Legacy veered into the median and then rolled numerous times. Police say that Gifford died instantly in the crash, while her spouse Kevin suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Investigations are still underway to determine why Gifford lost control of her sedan.

Authorities have not yet confirmed if inclement weather, distracted driving or alcohol are possible suspects in either crash.

Holiday season sees rise in traffic deaths

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and the 4th of July are some of the most dangerous times to be on the road.  An average of 550 Americans is killed in motor vehicle accidents on a holiday each year, reports the NHTSA. Alcohol impairment and driver fatigue are two of the main culprits behind the bulk of holiday traffic accidents.

Experts agree that many automobile-related deaths can be prevented this holiday season by traveling smart, taking short and frequent breaks, putting away cell phones and other handheld gadgets and wearing a seatbelt.

Since 1976, the law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing has been advocating on behalf of personal injury victims throughout Lewistown, Bangor, Portland and Auburn. To learn more about your rights to compensation following a serious or fatal car crash, please contact a Maine accident attorney at our practice for a free case review today.

Mechanical Failure Caused Sugarloaf Ski Lift Accident Injuring 7

Young Couple on the Chair Lift Young Couple on the Chair Lift

According to a newly-issued report by the Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety, a chain of mechanical failures is at the root of a ski lift accident that injured 7 people last March. The report confirmed the earlier preliminary findings of a team of engineers who investigated immediately after the accident.

Second ski lift accident in under five years

The 27-year-old King Pine ski lift at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley was carrying more than 200 skiers when it failed. The lift traveled about 400 feet in reverse and many of the riders jumped off.

Just five years ago, Sugarloaf’s 35-year-old Spillway East lift also malfunctioned. In that incident, eight skiers were injured after falling 25-30 feet and many other riders spent more than an hour trapped in the air. After that accident, Sugarloaf replaced the Spillway East entirely.

Both accidents were on older lifts, similar to those found at many ski resorts across the country.

Faulty chair lift experienced mechanical failures

According to the state report, the King Pine ski lift experienced a series of malfunctions that ultimately caused the accident. Coupling that connected two gearboxes failed, allowing the lift to roll in reverse. An anti-rollback device should have stopped this, but the device failed to engage. Finally, an emergency brake failed to activate.

The report concluded that the ski lift owners and operators need to coordinate with the manufacturers to ensure that the lifts are outfitted with any system updates or upgrades that would make the lifts safer and more reliable.

According to Rich “Crusher” Wilkinson, vice president of mountain operations, the resort is now investing $1.5 million to make sure the lifts are outfitted to meet the most modern standards and components. Upgrades include replacing the drivetrain on the King Pine and replacing the gearbox on another lift, Timberline. Seven lifts have received upgraded brakes and one older lift was removed entirely.

Liability for ski lift accidents

Ski lift accidents are complicated because they involve both mechanical issues and many legal questions. There can be many parties involved, such as the resort owner, the lift operator, equipment manufacturers, service technicians, and even any patrons on-scene. When the blame is not clear-cut, each of these parties may begin pointing the finger at another.

When someone is injured in a ski lift accident, it is important to sort out who is to blame because there may be compensation available for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages

To receive compensation in a civil case, a plaintiff needs to be able to meet the burden of proof to show that the defendant is at fault for the injuries. This often means working with a number of experts who can explain to a jury what the lift owners or operators should have done.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a ski lift accident, you may be entitled to compensation. To discuss the merits of your case with trusted Maine accident lawyers, please call the law offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing to arrange a free and confidential legal consultation. Call 1-800-INJURED to learn more today.

Investigation Continues in Fatal Solon Car Accident

distractions while driving

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

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

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

Madison man killed in separate accident the same night

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

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

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

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

Ramifications of car accidents

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

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

Drowsy Driving is a National Epidemic

distractions while driving cars traveling at high speed

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

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

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

Campaign to raise awareness

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

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

Risks of drowsy driving

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

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

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

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

Driver of Hit-and-Run in Fairfield Arrested

car accident

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

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

Driver flees the scene of the crash

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

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

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

Road deaths declining

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

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

Liability under Maine law

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

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

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