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NTSB Proposes Transportation Safety Improvements for 2016

distractions while driving

cars traveling at high speedThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their list of most wanted transportation safety improvements for the coming year. The list focuses upon the importance of including more technological advancements in highway vehicles and train systems to help avoid collisions in the future.

The NTSB believes that with the addition of more technology into today’s vehicles, the number of injuries and fatalities will decrease. For example, the NTSB would like to see more collision prevention technology in highway vehicles, as well as an increase in occupant protection across all modes of transportation. Additionally, the NTSB is calling for mandatory laws that enforce the use of safety belts and child restraints nationwide.

Aside from technological improvements in highway transportation, the NTSB notes that rail safety initiatives, such as the implementation of positive train control (PTC), is also necessary. The PTC is a system for closely monitoring and controlling train movements. This allows the train conductor to receive information regarding the train’s location and where it is allowed to travel safely.

Lastly, the NTSB discusses how fatigue, undiagnosed medical conditions and distraction of transportation operators have attributed to accidents. For this the NTSB advocates that federal regulators require their employees to be medically fit in order to fulfill their duties.

Motorists need to understand their legal rights

Although the safety improvements that the NTSB suggests would be helpful in preventing accidents in the future, how does that help the victims who have already been injured by one of the aforementioned factors? Until the necessary changes are made, victims need to be informed about their rights, should they experience an accident.

Many of the implementations that the NTSB listed applies to commercial vehicles. When a collision occurs between two personal vehicles in Maine, the at-fault driver is legally responsible for ensuing damages and injuries. However, when the crash involves a commercial vehicle, the victim must file a suit against the company that employs the at-fault driver.

In some cases, the plaintiff may need to sue the company that makes or maintains the commercial vehicle in order to seek compensation.

Types of damages that can be recovered

In some cases, accidents involving commercial vehicles result in greater damage due to the sheer size of the vehicle. For this reason, commercial liability policies have higher limits to allow the victim to receive reasonable compensation for their losses.

A successful claim may secure the following types of compensation:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering, and emotional distress
  • Loss of normal life, which an include a permanent disability or disfigurement

If you or a loved one have suffered significant injury following a vehicle accident in Lewiston, Portland, Bangor or Auburn, the firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing offers skilled legal guidance and support.

To speak with a Maine personal injury lawyer about your options for legal recourse, please contact our office at 1-800-INJURED and schedule a free case review.

Where do Most Car Accidents in Bangor Occur?

Car accident

car accidentThere are numerous causes of car accidents in Maine, ranging from impaired and distracted drivers, excessive speed, motor vehicle defects and hazardous road conditions. For every crash that occurs on state highways and roads, the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) logs vital pieces of information such as accident location and underlying cause.

DOT spokesperson Ted Talbot explains that these car crash statistics are gathered over three-year increments and calculate what is known as a “critical rate factor,” which is based on the number of accidents that occur in one particular location versus other locales.

Talbot says the critical rate factor is useful because it spotlights “areas of concern,” allowing officials to identify certain intersections or stretches of road that have unusually high crash rates. The agency recently released statistics on Bangor locations with the highest car accident rates for 2012-2014.

Most common Bangor car accident locations

According to DOT statistics, the area with the highest rate of collisions is an intersection on Stillwater Avenue, where traffic flow from the I-95 on and off ramps and Parkade shopping plaza converge.  Over the last three years, some 43 auto accidents took place at this Bangor intersection.

Following close behind in second place was the crossroads between Ohio Street and Griffin Road, where police responded to 40 crashes.

This data may prove influential in helping motorists avoid traffic collisions, or at least take extra caution when in these specific intersections where accident rates are disproportionately high.

John Theriault, Bangor’s city engineer, says that he is periodically contacted by area residents who voice their concerns about the region’s worst spots for accidents. These opinions, along with DOT crash data, are then analyzed to determine if actions need to be taken.

What to do following an accident

No matter what precautions are taken, auto accidents can and do happen on a regular basis. Remember these tips in the wake of a car accident, as they can help preserve your legal rights in the event negligence was a contributing factor.

  • Stay on the accident scene
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Attend to medical emergencies as necessary
  • Gather information from all parties involved, including names, addresses, license and plate numbers and insurance info
  • Take photos or video of the crash scene if possible
  • Make notes about the weather, time, road conditions, location and relevant events of the accident
  • Contact your own insurance company
  • Do not admit fault or liability, even if you believe you may be to blame
  • Speak with a qualified car accident lawyer

In some instances, victims may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, seeking compensation for property damages, lost income, medical bills, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.

However, it takes experience and commitment to effectively handle a car accident claim. Hardy, Wolf & Downing offer a combined 40 years of experience handling personal injury cases and boast a long track record of substantial verdicts and settlements. To schedule a free case review with one of our Maine accident attorneys, please call 1-800-INJURED.

Social Media Now Plays a Role in Nursing Home Abuse

Care Worker Mistreating Senior Woman At Home Care Worker Mistreating Senior Woman At Home

Adding to the growing problem of nursing home abuse across the country, recent reports reveal that some nursing home workers are violating the privacy of the elderly in their care by posting dehumanizing and private images and videos of residents on social media sites, such as Snapchat. This recent trend has lead to criminal charges in some cases, since taking pictures or videos without patient consent violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—a privacy law geared toward patients that penalizes violators at a criminal and civil level.

An organization called ProPublica has found 35 cases since 2012 where nursing home patients were the subjects of videos and pictures taken stealthily by workers. In at least 16 instances, the victims were documented either partially or fully nude on Snapchat, a popular social media site that allows pictures and videos to appear for seconds at a time and disappear without a trace.

Elder abuse cases involving social media

Back in February of 2014, a nursing assistant at the Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Centralia, Washington was singing and dancing as she filmed a resident on a bedside portable toilet. A second incident occurred a month later, at the Rosewood Care Center in St. Charles, Illinois, where two nursing home workers shot a video of a 97-year-old woman, who suffered from dementia, getting slapped in the face by a nylon strap. She can be heard in the video crying out for them to stop, but the pair only laughed at her distress.

A third case involved a nursing assistant in February of 2015 at the Autumn Care Center in Newark, Ohio. The worker was seen teaching the residents lyrics to a rap song that discussed a love for cocaine. This video was also shared on Snapchat.

Determining liability

A nursing home or long-term care facility is responsible for providing patients with a certain level of safety, depending upon on their needs. For example, if a patient is prone to falling, they should be equipped with handrails and proper observation. Should that patient fall and injure themselves, even with the provided safety measures, the nursing home would not be liable for the injuries.

In situations like the aforementioned ones, where workers are purposefully abusing patients emotionally, a strong case could be made that the facility is liable.

Signs of nursing home abuse

Although social media-related elderly abuse is a recent development (22 cases were reported in the past 2 years), elder abuse in long-term care facilities is not. Unfortunately, many elderly individuals are abused by caretakers and the mistreatment goes unreported, often because patients forget due to dementia.

Forms of care facility abuse of the elderly include:

  • Assault or battery, including: pushing, pinching, slapping, or kicking
  • Deprivation of food or water
  • Sexual assault
  • Unnecessary physical restraint or seclusion
  • Noticeable sedation with the use of unauthorized medication

If your parent or loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact a Maine personal injury lawyer from the Hardy, Wolf & Downing law firm. As our beloved elders age, ensuring their utmost comfort and safety is foremost. Call us at 1-888-674-5762 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Christmas Volunteer Killed in Waterville Wagon Accident

Car accident

car accidentThe annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner went from joyous to somber this year after a tragic accident claimed the life of 56-year-old Kathy Marciarille two days after Christmas. Marciarille, who was a volunteer for the event, fell from a horse-drawn wagon and was struck by a vehicle that was closely following the wagon.

The Waterville Elks Lodge hosts a Christmas dinner, which attracted 850 guests this year, and includes visits from Santa Claus, carol singing, and free wagon rides. As the event ended, volunteers and their families were also offered wagon rides. The incident occurred when a sedan escorting the hayride rear-ended the wagon, ejecting Marciarille, who became pinned under the sedan; the driver of the sedan was fellow volunteer, 68-year-old Richard Libby.

“The sun was shining pretty bright and blinded me,” Libby said. “The whole windshield was all white and yellow. I couldn’t see anything. Before the car came to a stop, I felt the car go up and down. I didn’t see the trailer. I didn’t see anything.”

Marciarille was freed and rushed to a local hospital, where she was transported via LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland. She succumbed to her injuries two days after the accident. Police are currently reconstructing the accident and conducting an investigation to determine the next course of action.

Determining liability for rear-end collisions

Drivers who cause rear-end accidents are almost always deemed to be at-fault, regardless of how quickly the driver in front of them has stopped. This is because the driver behind the stopped vehicle should know how to properly gauge their breaking distance in order to avoid a collision. In fact, many insurance companies don’t bother arguing about liability when it concerns a rear-end accident.

There are, however, a few circumstances where a rear-end collision will not follow the established liability rules. Rear-end accidents that involve multiple vehicles are handled a bit differently. For example, if cars A, B, and C are in a chain-reaction crash, vehicle C is at fault, since their vehicle struck car B, which then rammed into car A.

The comparative negligence defense

Comparative negligence is another type of circumstance that may make the victim partially at-fault for a rear-end collision. Comparative negligence is a counter defense that proves that the actions of the plaintiff contributed, in part, to the car accident. This allows the fault to be divided into percentages.

For example, if driver A brakes suddenly and they have broken tail lights, driver B, who is behind them, is unable to see that the vehicle is stopping, which can lead to the rear-end crash. If driver A was found to be 20% percentage responsible for the accident, they are only entitled to 80% of the compensatory damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a rear-end collision, call our experienced Maine accident lawyers. Hardy, Wolf & Downing is prepared to evaluate your case and offer answers to all of your legal questions. Call 1-800-INJURED to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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.