Lowry Law Blog

Portland & Bangor Injury Lawyers Serving the Entire State of Maine

November 15th, 2016

Thanksgiving and the days surrounding it mean busier roadways across the country. Federal transportation agencies say there are hundreds of deadly auto accidents during this holiday period every year. Many more accidents cause severe injury. Various factors combine to create the higher risk of a crash during Thanksgiving, such as:

  • More vehicles on the road
  • Winter driving conditions in some parts of the country
  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving

So what can you do to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible? Consider these tips for preventing a crash:

  • Always wear a seatbelt and insist that everyone in the vehicle wear a seatbelt
  • Cover all the bases of basic vehicle maintenance: working wiper blades, working battery, properly inflated tires, full fluid reservoirs, working lights and a tire-changing kit
  • Never drive distracted. Put your phone away while you drive, or make sure you have a passenger who can make navigation adjustments on your phone for you
  • If you plan to go to any holiday gatherings and there's a chance you may be enjoying alcoholic beverages, then make sure you also plan for how you will get home safely
  • Leave plenty of time for travel – busier roads and possibly wintry driving conditions can make rushed driving very dangerous
  • Don't speed or drive buzzed

Safety tips for holiday travel in Maine

If you've been in an auto accident in Maine, including the cities of Bangor or Portland, please call Lowry & Associates at (800) 999-5342, for a free case evaluation. Our experienced lead attorney James C. Beardsley is proud to fight for injured victims from across the state.

August 18th, 2016

In the summer, it's easy to forget just how much the school year impacts what you'll encounter on the roads. In the next couple of weeks, students across Maine will be returning to school for the 2016/2017 school year. As a result, now is the perfect time to adjust your driving habits to avoid injuring someone or getting in a car accident. Here are some tips:

1. Obey posted speed limits. Children will be out on the sidewalks, getting to school in the morning and coming home in the afternoon. One of the things you can do to prevent injuring someone with your vehicle is to always obey posted speed limits. Be aware of reduced speeds in school zones. Speeding can be a major factor in pedestrian accidents, and traveling too fast can prevent you from recognizing children near your vehicle.

2. Be alert for children on sidewalks, in crosswalks, darting between cars, crossing behind your vehicle and otherwise being present in places you expect to see and don't expect to see them. Don't expect children to behave like an adult pedestrian does. They don't always remember the rules about where they can walk. They may also forget to check both ways for cars. As an adult driver, take it upon yourself to practice cautious driving by checking carefully behind you before you reverse. On neighborhood roads, anticipate children darting into the road from between cars. And always remember to yield to pedestrians as they cross the street.

How to avoid accidents in back to school season in Maine

3. Stop for school buses when you are supposed to. If you come upon a school bus with flashing red lights and an extended "stop" sign, stop your vehicle. These things indicate that children are boarding or leaving the bus. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop for loading/unloading, and you should slow down and get ready to stop.

4. Include more time in your commute or anytime you are driving somewhere. Traffic is likely to increase, or you may find normal traffic times shift, as the school year begins. Allow yourself extra time to drive to your destination so that you can accommodate this increased traffic.

5. Work to eliminate driving distractions. Maybe you can't guarantee you'll never get distracted while driving, but you can eliminate those sources of distraction under your control. Turn your cell phone to silent and place it out of sight. You can even set up an automated text message to respond to people who call or text you while you are driving.

These tips can help keep you, your loved ones and all the pedestrians on the street stay safer.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence in Portland, Bangor or anywhere else in Maine, please call Lowry & Associates at 1-800 999-5342

July 8th, 2016

According to statistics released on the first of this month, deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents rose 7.7 percent in 2015. Tragically, this percentage means 35,200 individuals lost their lives in accidents last year. In 2014, 32,675 people were killed in crashes. These statistics include pedestrians and cyclists killed in accidents involving a motor vehicle. In fact, the most significant increases in death were among pedestrians and people on bicycles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working to determine the factors that contributed to the increase. Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Director, said in a press release that one contributing factor may be higher rates of driving last year, and possibly for more miles, due to lower gas prices. But he also said 94 percent of crashes are related to errors or choices made by drivers.

Fatal Traffic Accidents in Maine

Because so many crashes are caused by human error, many of them are also 100 percent preventable. Here are some ways you can do your part to reduce the risk of getting in an accident:

  • Don't drive distracted. Turn your phone to silent. Place it in the backseat or otherwise out of sight, so you won't be tempted to use it. Other distractions you should avoid are arguing with passengers, adjusting navigation, applying cosmetics and staring out the side window.
  • Keep your vehicle in good shape. Routine maintenance can help you avoid tire blowouts, mechanical failure and other problems that can cause accidents. You should also be aware of any recalls pertaining to your vehicle and have those problems fixed as soon as possible.
  • Don't drive when you're drowsy. Fatigued driving has similar effects to drunk driving. Your judgment is impaired, your reactions slowed and your cognition impeded by drowsiness. Don't plan to drive during late-night hours and try to pull over in a safe spot to rest if you find yourself feeling excessively drowsy behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident in Bangor, Portland or anywhere in the state of Maine, please call Lowry & Associates at 1-800 999-5342, for a free case evaluation.

Source: nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/nhtsa-2015-traffic-deaths-up-07012016

June 3rd, 2016

Tens of thousands of people are killed every year in car crashes in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes in Maine in 2013 killed over 150 people and cost $180 million ($2 million in medical costs and $178 million in work loss costs). Accidents are a leading cause of death in both Maine and across the US. At the same time, auto accidents are preventable, and we can all do our part to prevent crashes:

  • Limit or eliminate distractions. Phones, arguments, eating, adjusting audio, adjusting navigation systems – all of these things are sources of distraction that take your mind, eyes and hands off the task of driving.
  • Obey traffic laws. Speeding, aggressive driving and reckless driving are all common causes of accidents. By obeying traffic laws, you'll be following the expert recommendations for the safest way to travel on that particular roadway.
  • Do not drive buzzed, drunk, intoxicated or drowsy. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and certain types of prescription medications is dangerous. So too is driving when you are excessively tired. These things impact your ability to judge situations that arise on the road, as well as your reaction time, hand-eye coordination, concentration and visual acuity.
  • Secure children in their seatbelts before driving, and do not allow children to climb around in your vehicle. You can be very distracted by children fighting or climbing around in the backseat. Although kids will be kids, do everything you can to teach them the importance of not fighting in the car, and always make sure they are buckled-in before starting your trip.
  • Avoid nighttime driving when possible. A lot of accidents happen at night, when drivers are more likely to be drowsy, inebriated or unable to see as well. Avoid it when possible.
  • Always wear a seat belt when traveling in a motor vehicle. According to the CDC, seat belt use reduces the risk of death in an accident by about half. Always wear a seat belt, no matter how long the trip is and whether you are the passenger or the driver of the vehicle.
Tips for preventing car accidents in Maine

To learn more about our experienced and compassionate Maine car accident lawyers, please call Lowry & Associates at 1-800 999-5342. We offer free case evaluations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so do not hesitate to contact us if you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in Maine. You may be able to recover compensation in an accident claim handled by our attorneys. We have law offices in Bangor and Portland, and are proud to serve people from across the state.

May 9th, 2016

Serious car accidents lead to numerous expenses. Repairing your car is only one aspect. If you were severely injured, you will have bills for emergency medical care as well as ongoing care. Prescription medication costs may be another factor. With the help of our experienced accident attorneys in Maine, you can pursue compensation.

In an accident claim handled by our attorneys, we seek maximum compensation so that you will be better prepared to deal with the consequences of the accident, such as:

  • Lost wages from being unable to work
  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Pain and suffering
Payment for injuries after a car accident in Maine

If you were recently involved in an accident, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Let our experienced attorneys provide guidance during this confusing time in your life. The first step is to discuss your case with us during a free consultation. During this consult, we'll make sure you receive accurate, clear information about all of your options. We are committed to helping you get your life back on track following this accident.

For a free evaluation of your accident case with our experienced car accident attorneys in Maine, please call Lowry & Associates at 1-800 999-5342. Our law offices are located in Bangor and Portland, and we serve people from across the state of Maine. We are available 24/7 to evaluate the details of your case.

April 18th, 2016

April is Distracted Driving Month | Portland, ME | Lowry & AssociatesWith over 40 years helping people who have been in auto accidents in Portland, Maine, the lawyers at Lowry & Associates know the danger that distracted driving can pose for drivers and pedestrians alike. With the increased popularity of smartphones and cars that act as Wi-Fi hotspots, people driving while distracted is likely to increase even further.

To spread awareness of distracted driving, the National Safety Council has named April Distracted Driving Month. All drivers are encouraged to eliminate common distractions from their driving routines.

Research has shown that many activities can distract you while driving, such as:

  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Checking text messages or e-mails
  • Eating food
  • Turning around in your seat
  • Reaching for an object rolling on the car floor
  • Checking or applying makeup
  • Manipulating an iPod or other music device

Even hands-free systems don't necessarily help. Recent studies by AAA and other groups have consistently found that people using voice-controls on their phones and car while driving still experience higher-than-normal levels of distraction. Drivers on hands-free cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who don't use a cell phone in the car at all.

All this research shows that you can't multitask in the car without increasing the odds of an auto accident. So simplify your life inside the car, and if you get struck by a driver who was talking on a phone, contact the Portland auto accident lawyers at Lowry & Associates. We'll give you a free legal consultation, and help you decide what steps to take next. Call us at 1-800 999-5342. We serve clients all throughout Maine.

March 21st, 2016

Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases comprehensive data on traffic fatalities and car accidents in Maine that have occurred over the last five years. Because the data is so wide-ranging, it takes a couple of years to compile, so the NHTSA has recently released Maine's traffic safety numbers for 2014, and compared them to numbers from the past 10 years.

The traffic safety results show some positive improvement for traffic safety in the state, with traffic fatalities generally trending downward since 2005. In 2006 there were 188 traffic deaths in the state; in 2014 there were 131.

Fatality Statistics for Maine Car Accidents Released | South Portland | Bangor

Other notable data from the report show:

  • The rate of vehicle fatalities was at or below the national average.
  • The rate of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities was at or below the national average.
  • If 100% of Maine's population used seat belts, it could save 20-30 lives a year.
  • The majority of vehicle crashes in 2014 involved more than one vehicle.
  • Maine has had 83 deaths from motorcycle crashes in the past five years.

While the report is largely optimistic, it's clear that auto accidents remain a major problem for the roads of Maine in particular and the United States in general. According to the report, the total cost of motor vehicle crashes in the United States totaled $242 billion. If you are in an accident, your insurance company or the other driver may try to stick you with costs that you are not liable for.

To prevent this from happening, call the Maine auto accident lawyers with Lowry & Associates at 1-800 999-5342. We serve clients in South Portland, Bangor, and throughout the state of Maine.

February 29th, 2016

Many cars are involved in pedestrian accidents in Portland, ME each year, and the injuries resulting from accidents can vary greatly. When a pedestrian is struck head-on by a moving vehicle, the resulting injuries are likely to be serious enough that it's fairly clear what to do: call 911 for an ambulance and police car, file a police report when they arrive, and get the driver's information.

However, you may be less certain in less serious cases. If a car runs over your foot, causing you a great deal of pain but not putting you in a life-threatening situation, you may have questions, such as:

  • Should you still call 911?
  • Do you still need to file a police report?
  • Should you get the driver's insurance information?

If you want the best chance of getting compensated for your medical costs, the answer to all of these questions is yes. Having evidence of your injury and a report on file with the police will greatly help your case when you seek compensation from the driver's insurance company. You should hire a pedestrian accident attorney to handle the legal side of things.

When a Car Runs Over Your Foot in a Pedestrian Accident | Portland ME

Sometimes things do not go according to plan. The driver may drive off, or you may have already gone to the emergency room yourself without an ambulance. In these cases, you still stand a chance of recovering compensation if you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Try to note the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle if the driver flees the scene.

The pedestrian accident attorneys at Lowry & Associates can help you if you have recently been in any sort of accident involving an automobile. Contact us by filling out a form above, or by calling us at 1-800 999-5342. We serve clients in Bangor, Portland, and throughout the state of Maine.

January 21st, 2016

When a car strikes a pedestrian, the damage to the pedestrian’s health, long term well-being, and future earning potential can be enormous. The Maine auto accident attorneys at Lowry & Associates can help you recover damages if a negligent or dangerous driver strikes you when you are walking. However, it is important to know when and where you have the right-of-way when walking near a street.

Pedestrian Right-of-Way in Traffic Accidents | Maine State Laws

Pedestrians and drivers both have certain responsibilities to avoid accidents and yield the right-of-way at a proper time. According to the Maine.gov website, which lists the laws governing pedestrian accidents, you must obey the following laws when walking near a road:

  • When there is a sidewalk next to a road, you must walk on the sidewalk.
  • If there is no sidewalk, you should walk on the road or the shoulder of the road.
  • Walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic and leaving room for cars to pass.
  • If you are crossing the street, you must yield the right-of-way unless you are in a crosswalk.
  • You must use crosswalks at intersections.
  • You may not cross an intersection diagonally.

These general rules are important to follow and good for your safety, but they are not absolute. Above all, drivers bear responsibility for operating their vehicles with due care. If a driver's recklessness leads to them striking and injuring you, they can be found liable whatever the right-of-way laws are.

If you or a loved one or family member was recently hit by a car, come to Lowry & Associates for a free legal consultation. We have locations in Bangor and South Portland, and serve clients throughout the state of Maine. Our experienced and highly qualified attorneys will help you decide what steps to take next. Contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342.

December 15th, 2015

In the United States, the laws that cover dog bites can vary greatly from state to state, with many differences regarding liability, filing deadlines, and potential damages. It is therefore important to know how dog bite laws in your own state work. With this in mind, here is a brief overview of dog bite laws in the state of Maine.

Maine is a Strict Liability Dog Bite State | One Bite Rule MaineWhile many states enforce a “one-bite rule” that makes an owner exempt from liability the first time their dogs bite somebody, Maine does not. Instead, Maine is a “strict liability state,” holding dog owners responsible for damages the first time their dog bites another person. This means that if you have been bitten by a dog, or have had a dog damage your property, you may have grounds for a lawsuit even if the dog has never done anything similar before.

The grounds for liability in a Maine dog bite case are primarily based on three conditions. You may be able to hold a dog owner liable for injury or destruction of property if the following are all true:

  • The defendant’s dog injured you, damaged your property, or both.
  • You were not at fault for the injury (e.g. you did not provoke the attack, you were not trespassing on the owner’s property).
  • If you were bit on the owner’s property, you have to show that the owner was negligent in controlling the dog.

If you were the victim of a dog attack in the last six years, the attorneys at Lowry & Associates will give you a free legal consultation. To learn more about Maine’s dog bite laws and how they may apply to your case, contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342. Lowry & Associates serves clients in Bangor, Portland, and throughout Maine.

November 30th, 2015

Every year, many motorcyclists find themselves in accidents through no fault of their own. The small size and sensitive handling of motorcycles create an exhilarating ride, but it also requires you to pay extra careful attention to the road. The Maine motorcycle accident lawyers at Lowry & Associates have made a short list of three potential dangers every motorcyclist must keep an eye out for.

Three Things To Look Out For When Riding a Motorcycle1. Cars That Don't See You

Most car drivers are used to looking out for objects on the road that are car-sized or bigger. It's easy for them to overlook something smaller like a motorcycle, especially if it's in their blind spot. Stay out of blind spots as much as possible, and always be aware of what the cars around you are doing.

2. Adverse Road Conditions

Gravel or oil slicks on the road can dangerously reduce the grip your motorcycle has on the road, especially on sharp turns. You should also watch out for road conditions in which:

  • The street is covered with water/snow
  • The traffic lanes are slightly different heights
  • Joints on a bridge leave a small gap in the road
  • There are many wild animals wandering across the road
  • Roads are under construction or have been rerouted

If conditions get too difficult for you to navigate at an acceptable speed in your motorcycle, you may wish to look for an alternate route, or a place where you can wait out any inclement weather.

3. Debris or Other Objects on Road

Often your greatest danger will consist of the things you least expect. Dodging a piece of debris that on the road or swerving to avoid some cargo that has fallen off the back of the trunk are two maneuvers that carry a great deal of risk, especially if you are near other vehicles.

If you do happen to get in an accident in Maine and need legal representation, then the lawyers at Lowry & Associates are the right choice for you! Our lengthy experience with the legal system in this state and record of success show that we are well-prepared to take your case. Contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342. We serve clients throughout Maine.

October 28th, 2015

Many people who seek the services of a Bangor premises liability attorney do so because they are uncertain whether a property owner can be held responsible for injuries occurring on that property. Slip and fall cases are notoriously difficult to predict, as the decisions can come down to a single interpretation of certain legal phrases.

When Property Owners Are Liable For a Slip & Fall

In Maine, if you slip on some spilled liquid while on a property and injure yourself, the owner of the property may be liable, provided that one of the following is true:

  • The owner spilled the liquid
  • The owner knew about the spilled liquid and did nothing about it
  • The liquid was there for long enough that a "reasonable person" would have known about it

These rules can also apply to a lessee or other person who is legally responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the property. But these scenarios can be difficult to prove, particularly the last one, which depends on how the court chooses to define the actions of a "reasonable person." This is why you need a lawyer on your side who has experience in slip and fall lawsuits, and knows how to present a case in a way that improves your chances of getting a favorable ruling.

With over 40 years of experience trying personal injury cases in the Maine courts, Lowry & Associates is an excellent law firm to represent you after a fall that injures you or a loved one. Contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342 today. We represent clients throughout Maine, and 


have offices in Bangor and South Portland.

October 2nd, 2015

When you get in an auto accident with another driver, common sense may tell you that they are at fault, but you may not know exactly which rules of the road they violated that caused the crash. This is important information to get if you wish to be compensated for injuries you suffer during an accident.

When you hire a lawyer to represent you after a car accident, it's important to get all the information you cna on the accident and the people involved in the accident. This is why you should hire a car accident lawyer as early in the process as possible. A good lawyer will make sure to pull the police report for the accident, consult local traffic laws, investigate the crash scene, and get statements from witnesses.

In some accidents, it's clear which driver is at fault under the law. This includes:

  • Accidents where one car rear-ends anotherProving Fault in an Auto Accident | Roadway Laws Maine | Bangor Portland
  • Accidents when making a left turn
  • Accidents where one driver is drunk or distracted
  • Accidents where one driver runs a stop sign or red light

Even in these instances, however, it's a good idea to hire a lawyer for your case. If the other driver is at fault, you still must have evidence of this and be capable of presenting your case in a courtroom in order to expect any compensation. At Lowry & Associates, our car accident lawyers have a great deal of experience with bringing these cases to court in Maine, and we will handle your case with the utmost professionalism.

Contact Lowry & Associates at 800 999-5342 to set up free initial legal consultation. We have offices in Bangor and Portland, and take cases from clients all around Maine.

August 19th, 2015

Wrongful Death in an Auto Accident | Bangor and Portland, MELosing a loved one in an auto accident is a tragedy that happens all too frequently. In America, around 30,000 people are killed in automotive wrecks every year. If a family member of yours has died in an auto accident, their estate can sue the parties responsible for their death, a process that is much more effective with the help of an experienced Maine wrongful death lawyer.

Liability varies in wrongful death cases, but several people may bear some responsibility for the death of your loved one, including:

  • The driver at fault in the automobile crash
  • The driver's employer (if the other vehicle was a commercial vehicle)
  • The governing body responsible for placing warning signs on the road
  • The people or business who served alcohol to the driver (if the driver was intoxicated)
  • The manufacturer of defective vehicle parts that caused the crash

In a wrongful death civil suit following an auto accident, you have to prove that several things are true: First, that the defendant had a "duty of care" that makes them responsible for following the rules of the road (or employment laws, or design and manufacturing regulations, or alcohol-service laws); second, that the defendant breached those rules; and third, that this breach led to the wrongful death of the deceased.

If you believe that the estate of your family member or loved one has a potential wrongful death suit against someone, bring it to the wrongful death attorneys at Lowry & Associates. Our long experience representing many car accident and wrongful death victims, which has led to many successful outcomes, can be a major asset for your case. Contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342. Lowry & Associates has offices in Bangor and South Portland, and serves clients everywhere in the state of Maine.

July 21st, 2015

Earlier last week, in South Portland, a truck accident involving an SUV, an overturned tractor-trailer, and 80,000 pounds of mulch held up traffic on the Maine turnpike for over four hours. For many people trying to get home from work, it was an unfortunate reminder that truck accidents affect many more people than just those involved in the accident.

With over 70 percent of fatalities in truck accidents happening to passengers in the smaller vehicle, you want to be especially cautious while driving near trucks. At Lowry & Associates, we have compiled a short list of ways you can minimize the risk of a truck accident.

Stay Out of the Truck's Blind Spots

The areas directly behind and beside the truck are "blind spots," where truck drivers have a hard time seeing vehicles. It's a good idea to pass trucks as quickly as possible and stay out of the area directly behind them, not only because they can't see you, but also because any equipment failure on the truck is more likely to affect you in those positions.

Keep a Safe Distance from Trucks

On a related note, you want to make sure not to follow trucks too closely. This can be difficult, especially on a highway where the truck is moving slower than the surrounding traffic, but remember that the loads on trucks occasionally become unsecured and can fall off the back.

Don't Try to Squeeze in Front of a Truck in Traffic

Because of their size, trucks take much longer to come to a full stop than the average car. If you try to dart in front of a truck during a sudden slowdown in traffic, the truck may not be able to stop quickly enough to keep from crashing into you.

Obey the Rules of the Road

This seems like a no-brainer, but the sad truth is that many fatal accidents involving trucks occur when drivers are speeding, changing lanes without a signal, following too closely, or breaking some other traffic law.

Pay Attention to the Weather

In inclement weather, the road visibility and stopping distance of all vehicles on the road will be negatively impacted, and often worse for trucks. If you are constantly aware of your surroundings, you may be able to avoid a truck whose driver is not quite so aware.

Even if you follow all these tips, there's a chance you will get into a truck crash caused by the truck or its driver. However, following these tips minimizes your risk, and helps ensure that any legal claim you bring against the trucking company will be successful.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a truck or tractor-trailer, contact the Maine truck accident lawyers at Lowry & Associates by calling 1-800 999-5342. We offer a free consultation, and serve clients in Bangor, Portland and throughout the state of Maine.

June 9th, 2015

If you have ever been rear-ended in a car accident, even by a vehicle moving at a fairly low speed, you probably woke up the next day with a great deal of soreness in your neck. The soreness didn't appear right after the car accident, and your neck may not have even hurt afterwards. But the next day, or even the day after that, the sore feeling appeared.

This soreness is evidence of whiplash, a "soft tissue" injury that can show up days after an accident. But these injuries make people nervous. What if there's an injury from your auto accident that hasn't shown up yet, but an insurance company is pressuring you to accept their settlement terms?

Nine times out of ten, the answer is not to accept the settlement terms. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know about soft-tissue injuries, concussions, and other medical damage that may not show up right away. If they can get you to agree to a payment that doesn't reflect medical costs they would normally be obligated to pay, they save some money at your expense.

After any car accident, even one happening at relatively low speeds, you should get examined by a medical professional no matter how you are feeling. The examination will help you document any injuries you have suffered, and will also show that you were concerned about your physical well-being after the wreck: if you delay, an claims adjuster may argue that your injuries couldn't have been too serious.

The most important step after a car accident, of course, is to find an attorney qualified to represent your case. If you live in Maine, your best bet is the auto accident lawyers at Lowry & Associates. We have been a presence in the state for over 40 years, and have successfully represented many car accident victims in that time. To schedule a free initial consultation at our Portland or Bangor offices, call 1-800 999-5342.

May 13th, 2015

It's rarely a good idea to use your smartphone while driving. Using a cell phone to text or search the web behind the wheel of your car is banned in Maine, and any sort of cell phone use is banned for drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate license. However, if you have just been in a car accident, your smartphone may have several tools to help you file a claim.

Obviously, your first concern in any car accident is checking to make sure that everyone is okay and there are no life-threatening injuries. Once you're sure there are no medical emergencies, your next priority should be to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, and gather evidence of the accident for your insurance claim. But after the stressful, heart-pounding experience of a car accident, many people forget these secondary steps.

This is where your smartphone can be a big help. Most insurance companies have their own apps that you can use if you've been in a car accident. These make it much easier to prove a car insurance claim, and can help strengthen your case if a claims adjuster tries to lowball you.

With most of these smartphone apps, you can:

  • File a claim with your insurance company
  • Provide your insurance info to the other driver
  • Record the other driver's insurance info
  • Record the location and details of the accident
  • Upload photos of the damage to support your claim
  • Ask for roadside assistance if your car is badly damaged
  • Speak with an insurance agent

Visit your insurance company's website to find out if they have a smartphone app that does these. Also, remember that an insurance adjuster's first offer is not the only offer you're going to get if you have the right evidence and good legal representation.

After serving car accident victims in Maine for over 40 years, Lowry & Associates has built a significant reputation as excellent auto accident lawyers, with decades of experience and a solid record of consistent legal success. We will fight to ensure you get fairly compensated for your injuries and any repairs that are needed for your vehicle.

To set up a free consultation with the car accident attorneys at Lowry & Associates, contact us by calling 1-800 999-5342. We serve clients in Portland, Bangor, and throughout the state of Maine.

April 7th, 2015

Cell phones and smartphones are one of the most common sources of driver distraction, which can lead to a serious auto accident. With promising pings, rings and other noises, the notification that a friend or colleague is trying to communicate with you can be too enticing to resist. To help you avoid the temptation, the National Safety Council offers the following tips:

  • Turn your cell phone off or set it to silent when you get behind the wheel
  • Put your phone out of reach and out of sight, such as in the backseat, the glove box or the trunk
  • Before you start driving, set up your navigation and a music playlist so you don't have to adjust either of those things while driving
  • If you are expecting a really important call, set a unique ringtone and pull over in a safe spot to take the call
  • If a person knows you'll be driving, ask them not to call or text you for the duration of your drive

You can read the NSC's full list of tips here.
Getting seriously injured in a car accident can turn your life upside down. Contact our experienced attorney today to find out if you can pursue compensation for your injuries. Lowry & Associates serves all of Maine, including Bangor and Portland. Call us at 1-(800) 999-5342 for a free case review. We are available to take your call 24/7.

tags: Auto Accidents
March 4th, 2015

Brain Injury Awareness MonthMore than 5 million Americans currently live with disabilities caused by traumatic brain injury. TBIs have lasting effects for the people living with them every day. As Brain Injury Awareness month, March is an important time for us all to increase our awareness of the effects of brain injury and what we can do to support and help people who have suffered this type of injury.

According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, the leading causes of brain injury are:

A brain injury can cause changes in your moods, behavior, cognition and physical capabilities. Because brain injuries are invisible to the people you interact with every day, it can be difficult for others to understand and recognize your injury. To find out more about how you can encourage awareness and access resources for support, please visit the website of the Brain Injury Association of America.

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury because of someone else's negligence, please call Lowry & Associates to find out how our law firm can help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

tags: Brain Injury
February 24th, 2015

When you meet an accident lawyer for the first time, you should be able to ask any and all questions you have on your mind. Before your consultation, we recommend writing down the questions and concerns you have about your accident claim. If you are having trouble coming up with questions, you may want to consider asking the following:

  • Do you think I have an accident claim to pursue compensation?
  • What is my case worth?
  • How long do you estimate it will take to resolve my case?
  • What can I do to help my case?
  • Who will be in contact with me throughout the duration of my case?
  • Will I be able to speak to the attorney handling my case if I have questions or concerns?
  • How many of these types of cases do you handle on a regular basis?
  • What types of verdicts and settlements have you achieved in accident cases in the past?
  • Do you expect my case to go to trial?
  • What are your fees and at what point in my case will I be charged these fees?

These questions will help you learn more about your case and about our attorney and law team. We are committed to making sure our clients have the knowledge and information they need to take next steps in pursuing compensation for their injuries.

To find out more about our experienced Bangor and Portland attorney serving the entire state of Maine, please call Lowry & Associates at (800) 999-5342.

tags: Auto Accident
January 8th, 2015

Although some motorcycle riders tend to have a bad reputation, in fact most accidents between motorcycles and other types of vehicles are caused by the other driver, not the motorcycle rider. Some of the most common causes of these types of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to a motorcycle
  • Incorrectly judging the speed at which a motorcycle is travelling
  • Turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle
  • Not allowing a motorcycle to use the full width of the lane
  • Tailgating a motorcycle

As the rider of a motorcycle, you are vulnerable to suffering very extensive and life-threatening injuries in an accident. If you were hurt in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence, then you may be able to maximize the compensation you can recover for lost wages, medical bills and for other losses and outcomes.

If you are searching for an experienced Portland and Bangor accident attorney to fight to maximize compensation on your behalf, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free case evaluation. We serve clients from all over the state of Maine.

tags: Motorcycle Accidents, Auto Accidents
December 22nd, 2014

The US Department of Transportation and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is kicking off the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday drunk driving crackdown by unveiling the SaferRide mobile app. This app enables you to get a ride home if you've been drinking so you can prevent deadly auto accidents. The drunk driving crackdown began December 15 and extends through January 1.

SaferRide App - Holiday DUI CrackdownYou can get the app on Google play for Android devices and at the Itunes store for Apple devices.

The app is very simple to use. The home screen displays three buttons:

  • "Get taxi"
  • "Call friend"
  • "Where am I?"

According to US DOT and the NHTSA, drunk driving deaths declined 2.5 percent in 2013. But even with that promising news, more than 10,000 people were killed in 2013 drunk driving accidents.

The holidays are a time for celebrating, but please remember to not allow yourself or your loved ones to drive while intoxicated or buzzed. Innovations like the SaferRide app are great in a pinch, when you need to quickly and easily figure out a way to get home.

If you are searching for an experienced Bangor and Portland area accident attorney to fight for compensation on your behalf, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free case evaluation. We serve clients from across the state of Maine.

tags: DUI Accidents, Safety Tips, Auto Accident
November 21st, 2014

The holidays are a fantastic time of year to celebrate with family and friends. Nobody wants to get into a car accident at any time of year - let alone at a time when you are supposed to be having a good time. However, if you do get in a car accident in Bangor, Portland, or anywhere in Maine, it's best to contact our auto accident attorney as quickly as possible.

Holiday Road Trip TipsIf you plan to take a road trip this holiday, make sure to follow these travel tips:

  • Keep an emergency kit in your car. You can purchase an all-in-one kit at many types of stores, or you can put one together on your own. Make sure it includes jumper cables and first-aid supplies.
  • Take the time to prepare your vehicle for travel. Working windshield wipers, proper tire pressure, and your vehicle's fluids are all important aspects of how safely your vehicle operates while in use.
  • Eliminate sources of distraction. Sources of driver distraction include cell phones and infotainment systems. Be prepared to not use these devices while driving so you can focus on the task of driving.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Make sure all of your passengers are wearing their seatbelts as well. In the event of an accident, your seatbelt can prevent catastrophic and fatal injuries.

By making sure you are ready to travel safely, you can greatly reduce the risk of an accident during holiday road trips.

If you in a serious car accident in Bangor, Portland, or anywhere in Maine this holiday season, please contact Lowry & Associates as soon as possible. It's important to  know your rights as a car accident injury victim. 

tags: Auto Accident, Safety Tips
October 29th, 2014

Halloween night can be particularly dangerous for two main reasons: adults may be more likely to drive drunk after a night of Halloween revelry, and more children are out walking around near roadways in the evening hours, which increases the risk of pedestrian accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Halloween is the third most deadly holiday for pedestrians in the US.

To encourage greater safety for everyone on Halloween night, NHTSA offers the following tips:

For Parents and their Trick-or-Treaters:

  • If your children are under the age of 12, they should be accompanied by an adult when they go trick-or-treating at night.
  • Make sure your children trick-or-treat in groups, in well-lit and familiar neighborhoods.
  • Avoid any hats or masks that obscure a child's field of vision.
  • Have children carry a flashlight or glow sticks.
  • Make sure you and your trick-or-treaters always cross at crosswalks, traffic signals and corners.
  • Teach your children to look both ways before crossing the street.

For Motorists:

  • In residential areas, be alert and reduce your speed.
  • Exercise extra care when backing out of driveways and alleys. Children often run across these intersections between sidewalks and driveways without looking.
  • Do not use electronic devices and avoid other sources of distraction.
  • Designate a sober driver or have a public transportation and/or walking plan for if you are too inebriated to drive.
  • Call the police if you see a driver who appears to be driving drunk.

Taking the time to remind yourself to exercise extra caution, care and alertness can go a long way in preventing auto and pedestrian accidents on Halloween night.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Portland or Bangor auto accident, or in an accident anywhere in the state of Maine, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free case evaluation.

tags: Halloween, Halloween Safety, Pedestrian Accidents
September 30th, 2014

General Motors has allocated about $400 million to pay out as compensation to victims of auto accidents caused by faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles, according to Reuters. Late this month, the GM fund made its very first payout offers to about 15 people.

Reuters says the fund will compensate people who were injured or killed in accidents caused by the defective ignition switches. It will pay $1 million or more for every death claim. That amount would be even higher if the deceased has dependants. The compensation fund will continue taking applications for compensation through the end of the year. The number of claims filed is over 850 now.

Accident Lawyer BangorGetting in a serious auto accident has the ability to disrupt your entire life and livelihood. An experienced and aggressive accident lawyer can fight to pursue compensation on your behalf for things including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering

When someone else's carelessness causes the accident that injures you, you should not have to deal with the fallout of your injury while the responsible party is not held accountable.

For a free case evaluation and to find out how our experienced Bangor auto accident attorneys can help you, please contact Lowry & Associates.

tags: Auto Accident, GM Recall
July 16th, 2014

Immediately after suffering an unexpected physical injury, the ramifications of that injury begin to pile up. One of the most expensive outcomes of any type of accident can be your medical bills. Costly medical treatment can easily result from:

From the moment you ride in the ambulance to the emergency room and then throughout your recovery period, you will be incurring medical expenses. So who will pay for these bills, you may wonder. That depends on a number of factors, including the type of accident, state laws, your insurance coverage and the insurance coverage of the person who caused the incident.

If the personal injury incident was not your fault, why should you be on the hook for an injury you did not cause? Why is the other person’s insurance company not paying your bills?  Why should your insurance company pay anything if you were not at fault? These issues can sometimes be tricky. The other person’s insurance company will want to pay as little as possible and it can get very confusing. The good news is that there are clear laws and rules that determine who pays for what. In the end, the laws and rules usually put the responsibility of paying the bills on whoever is at fault for the incident. If you have a personal injury claim there are many possible ways to get your bills paid or delayed until they can get paid. You may also be able to get paid for your lost earnings, pain and suffering. Because the details of the incident and the insurance situation can be different in each case, the only way to know how this will work for you is to consult our experienced law team.

To find out if you have a case to pursue compensation with our Maine personal injury attorneys, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free consultation. We can provide free evaluations 24/7, and have offices in Portland and Bangor.

tags: Personal Injury
April 28th, 2014

Throughout the nation, the month of April is being recognized as distracted driving awareness month. The National Safety Council and other agencies and organizations want to use this month to raise awareness about the dangers posed by distracted driving. Common motorist distractions can lead to serious, sometimes fatal car accidents. According to the NSC, driver distraction leads to thousands of accident fatalities each year in the US.

Although cell phones are what most people associate with distracted driving, anything that leads to the following can cause a car accident:

  • Manual distraction
  • Visual distraction
  • Cognitive distraction

A distraction takes your eyes, hands and/or mind away from the task of driving, thus increasing the risk of an accident. Texting, talking on a cell phone, using a car's infotainment system – all of these can be sources of distraction. Other sources include getting into a heated discussion with a passenger, reaching for something that has fallen to the floor or in the backseat, adjusting audio controls, and even using a hands-free cell phone device.

If you live anywhere in Maine and believe a careless, distracted driver caused your car accident and resulting injuries, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free case evaluation and to find out if our experienced accident attorney can help you and your family.

tags: Car Accident, Distracted Driving
March 26th, 2014

An auto accident can leave you and your loved ones with catastrophic injuries. These life-altering injuries can leave you with the hardships of expensive medical bills, an inability to work, lost wages, and possibly disability, disfigurement and scarring.

Some of the most common causes of car accidents are:

  • Drunk driving
  • Driving under the influence of illegal drugs or certain prescriptions
  • Distracted driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Failure to obey traffic signals

If someone else caused the accident that injured you, then you deserve compensation for the impact your injuries will have on your life and the lives of your loved ones. You should not have to deal with the financial, physical and emotional ramifications of your injury without the compensation you need and deserve. Our experienced auto accident lawyer will fight aggressively on your behalf, dealing with the powerful insurance companies while you focus on your recovery.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence or careless driving, please contact Lowry & Associates for a free case evaluation and to learn more about our experienced Maine car accident attorney, serving Portland, Bangor, and the entire state.

September 26th, 2013

          Wendy’s customers will be glad to know that they can have confidence that what they get at one Wendy’s will be the same at whatever Wendy’s they may visit, anywhere in the country.


A large Wendy’s franchise group in the Midwest refused to install new toasters in its stores to accommodate a newly created cheeseburger, Dave’s Hot’n Juicy.  Wendy’s brought suit claiming that failure to install the toasters would undermine the success of the new cheeseburger.


In a settlement of the lawsuit, the franchise group, which operates 329 Wendy’s stores in 20 states, agreed to install the new toasters in all of its stores.


So you need never wonder about what sort of product you will get in a Wendy’s.  It will always be the same as in any other Wendy’s restaurant.  Obviously Wendy’s takes this very seriously as evidenced by its intolerance of any deviation from its strict guidelines for uniformity.

tags: Uncategorized
September 17th, 2013

          2/4/11 – I have a tendency to deride my wife when she checks the liquid level of every bottle on the shelf when shopping at the supermarket, but maybe she has a point!


Five northern California counties brought suit against Clorox Company alleging that the company was filling its bottles to only 80% of capacity.  The action was successful when Clorox agreed to settle for $200,000.


So here is fair warning to all: you may be getting cheated on the quantity of stuff you buy in the store, so it is probably worth checking before buying.

tags: Uncategorized
September 9th, 2013

Our gut reaction may tell us that an action which discriminates against someone for no apparent good reason should be illegal, but as a matter of fact there are only a very limited number of factors which are specifically spelled out in the law and which can be the basis for a legal remedy.


If a barber should decide that he will refuse to cut the hair of any redheaded person, that would certainly seem unfair, but it would be perfectly legal.  On the other hand, if he decides that he will refuse to cut the hair of any Protestant person or any person of color, that would be not only unfair, but also against the law.


A 2011 survey conducted by the Sun Sentinel found that 15 out of 105 ob-gyn practices in South Florida now refuse to see otherwise healthy women who are not pregnant solely because they are overweight.  For years ob-gyn practices have been sending pregnant obese women to specialists.


Although some said that the main reason for declining overweight women was that their ultrasound machines do not give good images of internal anatomy in obese women, the doctors claimed that there is more risk of something going wrong and they have complained about the high number of lawsuits after difficult births and the high rates of medical malpractice insurance.


Although experts said that it violates the spirit of the medical profession, physicians, like any other business, can decline service to whomever they choose for any reason, except for race, gender, sexual orientation or infectious diseases.

tags: Discrimination
August 28th, 2013

Back in 2012, following a seven-day trial in the federal court in New Hampshire, a jury awarded $8.5 million to the family of a bicyclist who was killed in August, 2008, when he was run over by a tractor-trailer on a rural road in Porter, Maine.

The bicyclist was traveling on the right side of the road as he approached a curve to the left.  The tractor-trailer, traveling in the same direction, pulled into the left lane to avoid the bicycle, but when confronted with a pickup coming in the opposite direction pulled back to the right to avoid a head-on collision.  The bicyclist was forced off the pavement, lost control of his bike, fell back onto the roadway, was run over by the rear tires of the trailer and died instantly.

The jury determined that the driver of the tractor-trailer was negligent in attempting to pass on a curve with insufficient visibility ahead, and rejected the defendant’s claim that it was a safe and reasonable place to pass.  The jury also rejected the testimony of the state police accident reconstructionist who said that the main cause of the accident was the condition of the shoulder of the road which caused the decedent to loss control of his bicycle.

The 38-year-old decedent was an experienced bicyclist, a college graduate and owned his own contracting business.  At the time of his death he was in excellent health and left a wife and two minor children.

After four hours of deliberation the jury awarded $3.5 million for lost wages and earning capacity and $5 million for loss of consortium for the surviving spouse and children.  If the case had been brought in Maine where the accident occurred, the law would have limited the amount of the award for loss of companionship (the legal term is consortium) to only $500,000.  The law in New Hampshire appears to have a similar restriction on damages for loss of consortium as Maine, so it is likely that the amount of the award will have to be reduced.  The difference between how a jury values loss of a loved one and the limited amount set by the legislature is troubling.  I would submit that a jury of ordinary citizens with access to the facts of each case is better equipped to reflect the values of the community than lawmakers sitting in the state capital considering only a theoretical case and responding to the pleas of insurance industry lobbyists.

tags: Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accident, Insurance Benefits, Liability
August 27th, 2013

          Running out of gas can be an inconvenience, but it also can present a risk of being in a car crash.

The manufacturers of motor vehicles have a responsibility to make their products as safe as possible, and this includes avoiding misleading drivers by installing gauges which are inaccurate.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated an investigation of 865,000 GM sports utility vehicles for faulty gas gauges which can indicate a level of gasoline which is more that actually exists in the gas tank.  This action followed 668 complaints, including 58 which resulted in a stall because the fuel gauge readings indicated more fuel than what was actually in the tank.  One complaint alleged that this occurred on an interstate exit ramp and that the stalled car was rear-ended.

Another similar investigation is being made of a fuel tank problem on Ford F-150 pickup trucks.  The steel straps holding up the tank can rust and break causing a fuel spill and fire.

When injuries happen in a car wreck the job of the attorney is often to look beyond the obvious to determine responsibility for the crash.  A seemingly unimportant defect in a product may be a contributing cause for an injury or even a death.

tags: Auto Accidents
August 20th, 2013

A settlement of $1.3 million has been received by a former Philadelphia police officer as a result of a rear-end collision which caused only minor damage to his vehicle.  The officer was on duty when he stopped at a red light and was tapped in the rear by a young woman who failed to stop in time.

Even though the force of the collision was only minor and neither car suffered significant damage, the officer suffered a nerve injury to his right arm which made it impossible for him to handle his weapon and ended his police career.

This is typical of many situations which we see in our cases at Lowry & Associates.  It is intuitive to assume that if there is little damage to the vehicles in a rear-end collision, then the occupants cannot have received any significant injuries.  However this is far from the truth.  In fact more damage to the vehicle indicates that it has absorbed more of the force of the impact resulting in less being transmitted to the occupants.  Slight damage to the vehicle may indicate that more of the force has been delivered to the people in the car, thus producing more serious injury.

Insurance adjusters should be aware of this principle of physics, but we find that time after time we are faced with the argument that slight damage to the car is proof that the person inside was not injured.

tags: Auto Accidents, Insurance Benefits, Liability, Recovery
August 16th, 2013

          There appears to be no end to the variety of conditions and situations which can form the basis for legal action, but whiskey fumes in the air?  Who would have thought?

In a unique class-action lawsuit filed year in Louisville, Kentucky, the plaintiffs had sued three Louisville distilleries claiming that “sweet vapors” from aging whiskey carry a fungus which produce persistent black spots on cars and homes in the neighborhood.

According to the plaintiffs’ attorney recent on some of the spots have detected a substance known as “whiskey fungus” or “angel’s share fungus.”  Officials identified it as some sort of nonlethal mold which is not harmful to human health but is a nuisance.

A spokesman for the targeted whiskey companies said that the spots are caused by a naturally occurring mold found often in the environment and unrelated to the production of whiskey.  He said that that the companies do not believe that they have caused any harm to the plaintiffs.

So here we have a clear disagreement, and resolving disputes is, after all, what our courts are for, but a class action lawsuit seems a bit over the top for what appears to be a rather minor issue.  The fellow who started all of this could probably have got the justice he wants by bringing his claim in small claims court—with no lawyer required.

tags: Liability, Miscellaneous
August 1st, 2013

We are used to seeing insurance companies ripping people off, typically by doing everything they can to avoid paying legitimate claims, but here is a case where the insurance company itself is complaining of being scammed.


Allstate Insurance Company has sued two New York medical professional corporations alleging that they were involved in a scheme to fraudulently bill Allstate for procedures which were medically unnecessary and often inappropriate.


As was noted by Jere Beasley, the prominent Alabama plaintiffs’ attorney, “As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, corporate entities such as Allstate appear to really “like” the court system when they consider themselves to be victims.  But when they are the wrongdoers, the corporate bosses have a totally different mindset.”

tags: Liability, Recovery, Uncategorized
July 29th, 2013

Follow the link to be taken to an online article from the Portland Press Herald.  What do you think?



tags: Miscellaneous
July 26th, 2013

Relying on records which showed that there were a dozen accidents at the same intersection and based on the city’s failure to install a traffic light, the family of a motorcyclist who was killed there has recovered $1.8 million in a 2011 settlement with the City of San Diego.

Although a recovery of that magnitude is not foreseeable in Maine because of the limitations in our antiquated wrongful death statute, this is an example of the sort of case where Lowry & Associates would be very helpful, not only in making sure of a fair settlement, but also in personally guiding the family through the difficult process.

tags: Auto Accidents, Liability, Recovery
July 25th, 2013

          Here is one for the books!


Lowry & Associates has been representing the families of people who have been killed in accidents for many years, and yet here is a case which is nothing quite like any we have ever handled.


The National Park Service has been sued in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, by the family of a man who was killed in OlympiaNational Park by a goat.  It seems that the 63-year-old man was hiking in the park with his wife and a friend when the goat charged the man, goring him in the thigh.  The goat then stood over him, preventing anyone from coming to his aid until a park staffer was able to shoo the goat away by waving a space blanket at him.


According to the suit the Park Service failed to deal with the large aggressive male which weighed 370 pounds, about 30 per cent larger than the average male goat even though the Park Service had had many complaints before about its aggressive conduct.  The suit also alleges that the government failed to provide emergency help on a timely basis.  It took more than an hour after the attack for a Coast Guard helicopter to arrive with a medical technician, but the victim bled to death.


Lowry & Associates stands ready to assist any Maine family who has lost a loved one in an accident.  No matter how bizarre the circumstances may be, you owe it to yourself and your family to see if we can help.

tags: Dangerous Premises, Insurance Benefits, Liability, Miscellaneous, Recovery
July 18th, 2013

In jury trials it is routine for the judge to instruct the jury to refrain from any contact outside of the courtroom with anything or anyone related to the case.  It is not unusual for a juror to let curiosity get the best of him or her and to do a bit of independent research.  When this occurs and is discovered the result is most often that the offending juror is admonished and dismissed from the case.


In one court, however, the transgression was taken a bit more seriously as the guilty juror was sentenced to community service after “friending” the defendant on Facebook and discussing the case on the social network.  The defendant notified her attorney who in turn told the judge.  Officials in the Texas county court said that this was the first instance that they were aware of where a juror had contacted a party in a case via the internet.


Most jurors take the judge’s instructions seriously, but some people do not understand the importance of limiting a case to the evidence provided in court and feel justified in making inquiries of their own.  This is a serious problem which undermines the legitimacy of trial results.

tags: Uncategorized
July 12th, 2013

I am reporting this trial result in this blog, not because it is at all unusual for a person to recover damages when injured by a defective product, but because of the strikingly remarkable amount of the verdict and how clearly this demonstrates the differences among juries in various parts of the country toward the value to be placed on human
suffering.  A verdict of this magnitude would be unheard of in Maine, or in most other
northern New England states for that matter.

In a 2011 case, A Virginia man has been awarded $212 million by a jury on a claim that Botox injections to treat hand tremors and writer’s cramp caused him to suffer a disabling brain injury.  The verdict was against Allergan Inc. of California and was the result of a trial which lasted nearly two weeks.  The jury awarded $12 million in compensatory damages and an additional $200 million in punitive damages.  The company has not yet decided whether or not to appeal.

tags: Defective Products, Liability, Recovery
July 10th, 2013

            Many of our clients have been injured in accidents where their car is damaged to the point of being totaled or being undrivable pending repairs.  In these cases it is often necessary to get a rental car until the damaged vehicle can be replaced or repaired.  The cost of the rental car will usually, but not always, be paid for by the owner’s insurance or by the insurance company for the person who caused the accident.  When filling out the papers the rental company will offer the opportunity (for a price) to take out insurance to cover any accident which might happen while the car is rented, so the question which many people have is: Do I need to spend this extra money to be safely covered while driving the rental car?


The answer to this question is, generally, NO so long as  your existing auto insurance is still in effect and provides enough coverage.  In other words almost all auto policies provide coverage when another vehicle is being driven by a person who is designated as a driver in the insurance policy, so this would include a rental car.  The amount of coverage, meaning the policy limits, will be the same, so if there was not enough coverage to start with, it will be a good idea to get some extra protection when taking out a rental.  Since the length of time the car will be rented is fairly short, the amount charged for this extra coverage will not a lot.


HOWEVER, if your policy does not include collision coverage, then you should purchase the collision coverage offered by the rental company.  If the rental car should be damaged, no matter who may be at fault, you will be responsible, by the terms of the rental contract, to pay for the damage, so it is important for you to be covered.  If the rental is being provided by the insurance company for the person who caused your accident, then the law requires them to pay for the collision coverage if you don’t have it.


All of this may appear to be a bit complicated, but it is good to have a handle on it, because too often people will accept and pay for the extra insurance when they don’t need it.






tags: Auto Accidents, Liability
June 26th, 2013

Cut and paste the below link into the URL bar of your internet browser to be directed to an article from the Portland Press Herald.



tags: Liability, Wrongful Death
June 24th, 2013

One of the least understood parts of the personal auto policy is a section called Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Simply stated, if you or a family member are involved in a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault and the responsible party is uninsured, you and your passengers may recover for injuries and damages incurred in the accident from your own automobile policy.  In essence, uninsured motorist coverage allows your insurance company to step into the shoes of the uninsured driver who is responsible for your injuries.


Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also serves to provide additional coverage for your injuries in the event that the responsible party has liability insurance coverage, but the limits of that coverage are inadequate to pay for your damages.  In such situations, your underinsured motorist provision will provide coverage above the limits of the responsible party up to the limits of your underinsured motorist coverage.


Many people in the State of Maine operate their vehicles with either no coverage or minimum coverage which means that often the insurance of the responsible party, if any, will be too low to cover the value of injuries sustained in an accident.  The minimum limit of allowable liability coverage in Maine is $50,000.  In the case of an even moderately serious injury, that $50,000 of coverage would not go very far in paying medical bills, lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.

The importance of maintaining adequate uninsured motorist coverage cannot be stressed enough.  This is especially true for people who operate motorcycles.  Over the years, our firm has handled numerous motorcycle accident claims involving catastrophic injuries in which the defendant driver has inadequate or no coverage.  Unfortunately, in a vast majority of these cases, we find that the operator of the motorcycle has inadequate uninsured/underinsured insurance resulting in a tragic result where there is little or no recovery available for a seriously injured person.


Based upon our experience, we believe that uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is the most important part of a motorist’s or cyclist’s policy.  In Maine, the limit of uninsured motorist coverage is generally the same as the liability limit you select.


By the way, uninsured/underinsured insurance would, in most situations, cover you and your family even if you are in some else’s vehicle or a pedestrian that is struck by a vehicle.


How much coverage is enough?  If you own a house and have a family, you want to make sure that you are adequately protected in the event that you are injured and incur high medical bills and a significant period of lost wages.  Everyone’s situation is different but even a single person with little in the way of monthly expenses needs adequate protection in the event that they are seriously injured in an accident. Increasing your policy limits to $300,000, $500,000 or more may not be as costly as you think and would add greatly to your financial protection and peace of mind.

tags: Auto Accidents, Liability, Recovery
June 20th, 2013

A 2011 inspection of a Delta Airlines plane in Atlanta in January revealed rat droppings “too numerous to count” in the in the ceiling panels of the aircraft directly over places where food and drinks are stored and also rodent droppings above the door panels in the forward galley where food is prepared.  The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter earlier this month and ordered the airline to demonstrate that it is properly cleaning the aircraft.

The president of a pest control company in Atlanta said that contamination of food may not be the biggest potential problem.  He said that the possibility of rats chewing the wires could pose a safety hazard.

tags: Miscellaneous
June 17th, 2013

3/24/11 – In a macabre case in Florida the LeeCountyEMS has been sued by the widow of a man who suffered a heart attack.  When the EMS crew was brought in to assist, the man was pronounced dead and left in the bedroom.  When the undertaker arrived more than an hour later he found the man struggling to breathe on the bedroom floor.  He was rushed to the hospital where he died four days later.

The suit seeks recovery on behalf of his wife of 49 years for a wrongful death plus infliction of emotional distress.  The wrongful death claim appears to be a difficult case to sustain, because it looks like the man would have died anyway, and as far as the infliction of emotional distress goes, it would no doubt depend on whether or not the wife was present or was falsely informed of her husband’s premature death.

Perhaps a more promising claim would be based on the discomfort experienced by the deceased when the EMS left him for dead.

tags: Wrongful Death
June 14th, 2013

Here we go again on the health care system.  The issue of doctors receiving gifts, other incentives or even payments for recommending certain brands of medications to their patients or using particular medical devices in their practices has been troubling for a long time.


On April 6th the New York Times reported that the governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, has ordered an investigation by health officials in that state into whether payments made to cardiologists by a previously little-known manufacturer of heart devices were legitimate consulting fees or in fact inducements to use the company’s products.  It seems that doctors at a Las Vegas cardiology practice started using Biotronic implants almost exclusively in their patients after they became consultants to the device maker in 2008, receiving up to $5,000 a month in fees.

tags: Liability, Medical Malpractice
June 5th, 2013

How many times do we see instances of the application of excessive force by police?  Here is an instance where the cops apparently went way over the top.


In 2011 A family in Columbia, Missouri, has filed a lawsuit against the police department based on allegations that the SWAT team raided their home without justification and literally shot up the place.  According to the suit the police shot and killed one family pet dog and wounded another and also shot numerous holes in the walls of the home and so traumatized a child who was present that extended counseling was necessary.


The police expected to seize a large cache of marijuana in the home, but found none.

tags: Uncategorized
May 31st, 2013

The oil which poured into the Gulf of Mexico last summer wasn’t the only instance where conduct by British Petroleum was challenged.

A woman in Southeast Texas has brought suit against BP claiming that the death of her infant son was caused by emissions released from a Texas   City refinery.  The child, whose residence was less than a mile from the refinery, developed pneumonia around the same time that the factory reportedly began releasing thousands of pounds of harmful materials into the air, including benzene.  BP is also being sued by the Texas Attorney General for illegal emissions.

You might think that a company that is making billions of dollars in profits could afford to practice proper disposal techniques.

tags: Dangerous Premises, Liability, Wrongful Death
May 24th, 2013

A person who is the object of a repulsive or disgusting act or situation is often understandably and justifiably outraged, but this may not translate into a recovery in court.

As personal injury lawyers in Maine we see cases such as this from time to time and generally there is little that can be done to quell the anger which many people feel when victimized by this sort of event.  I am reminded of a prospective client who came to us following an incident in which she discovered a dead mouse in a soda bottle after she had already taken a drink from the bottle.  This caused her to experience revulsion, disgust and nausea, but she did not require medical treatment, nor did she experience any lasting physical or mental effects.  A jury would no doubt share her outrage, but there is really no basis here for awarding significant money damages.


A woman in Chicago recently filed a suit against McDonald’s claiming that an employee of the restaurant spit in her face following an altercation over her order.  She claimed that she suffered injury, embarrassment and humiliation, but how, or if, this will convert into money recovery remains to be seen.

tags: Uncategorized
May 10th, 2013

What is Medpay and why is it important?


Medical Payments (medpay) is a coverage that is available to you under your own auto insurance. This coverage will pay for reasonable expenses incurred for necessary medical services because of bodily injury caused by an accident.


In Maine it is mandatory that you carry at least $2,000.00 in medpay coverage.  For a small increase in your insurance premium you can purchase more coverage. Carrying more than the minimum amount is strongly recommended, especially if you do not have health insurance or have to pay deductibles or co-pays.  Typically the charge for this additional coverage is small compared to the benefit you can receive if you are ever in an accident.


If you are injured in a vehicle, then you are entitled to medpay benefits regardless of who was at fault for your injuries. This medpay coverage can help aid you in getting the needed or recommended treatment.


We have many clients who experience hard financial times after car accidents and medpay is extremely helpful easing the burden of medical expenses.  If you or a loved one have been in a car accident please feel free to call us for advice.  Also, if you have any questions about your auto insurance policy you can call us for advice.  We are here to help.

tags: Insurance Benefits
May 10th, 2013

In our practice representing people who have been injured in accidents we sometimes hear a client say, “I could have been killed!” or “I almost died!”  Although the thought of coming close to death is disturbing to say the least, the law generally does not, in spite of what some people think, permit compensation for something that could have happened or that almost occurred.

Even so, a jury in Mississippi has awarded $4.7 million to a family which brought suit against a motel over the near-drowning of their two children in the motel pool.  The suit claimed that the two kids, both of whom suffer from learning disabilities, wandered into the pool area after hours when the motel staff had negligently failed to lock it up.  The jury found the hotel 85 percent responsible and the parents 15 percent responsible.

tags: Dangerous Premises, Liability
May 1st, 2013

Lawsuits for medical malpractice are always a subject of intense controversy.  Many in the health care industry, including doctors and health insurance companies, as well as many conservative politicians, contend that the fear of being sued causes physicians to order excessive and unnecessary tests and treatments which are a major factor in causing the escalating costs of medical care in the United States.  Of course many attribute the excessive testing to the pay for service system where the more tests that a doctor or hospital does, the more they get paid.  On the other hand trial lawyers and consumer groups point out that medical mistakes are causing thousands of needless deaths and that the threat of being sued makes health care providers more careful and saves lives.

In 2010 Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, weighed in on this issue in an op-ed for the New York Times.  It was Mr. Orszag ‘s contention that a much more aggressive effort is needed to protect doctors who follow “evidence-based guidelines”.  A representative of the Center for Justice and Democracy immediately jumped on this proposal, calling it “a horrendous idea” and saying that clinical guidelines should never be the basis for determining whether harm to a patient was caused by negligence.

At the risk of bringing down the wrath of my brother trial attorneys on my head, I do think that what Mr. Orszag suggests has the kernel of an idea which could work.  I have long thought that the solution to relieving doctors from the fear of being sued because of a failure to order sufficient diagnostic testing would be to establish detailed protocols so that with any given set of facts concerning a patient’s condition, there would be a clear standard of the testing to be implemented.

The fly in the ointment, so to speak, of this idea is that development of such protocols would take an enormous amount of effort and the input of many diverse participants.  It would require establishment of a body with authority to determine the precise action condoned under every possible set of circumstances.  The complexity and magnitude of this task would be just short of overwhelming, but if we are serious about addressing this problem, then it would, I think, be worth the effort.

tags: Liability, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death
April 29th, 2013

GAP Insurance – Unfortunately many people are either unaware of this form of insurance or elect to decline it when purchasing a new or used vehicle.  So-called GAP Insurance, short for Guaranteed Auto Protection or Guaranteed Asset Protection, provides coverage of the difference between the actual cash value of a car and the balance owed on the loan in case the vehicle is  totaled in a crash.  The reason that this situation occurs is that the value of a car, especially when purchased new, declines more rapidly than the reduction in the amount owed on the loan.  Thus, when an accident happens, the owner of the car may end up with no vehicle, but still owing a considerable amount on the loan.

We strongly recommend that people involved in the purchase of a new vehicle seriously consider purchasing this type of insurance.  Too often in the cases we see in our office the client who has been injured in an accident is faced with the additional burden of dealing with a “new” debt to the bank or financing agency.  The insurance company for the person responsible for the wreck will normally pay the current market value of the vehicle, but this is often not enough to pay off the loan.  For a small premium when the car is bought this problem can be avoided.

tags: Uncategorized
April 26th, 2013

Here is a case from 2010 where police officers got a bit carried away, to say the least.  It seems that after robbing a bank the perpetrator hijacked the plaintiff’s car with her and her 2-year old son still in it.  When the police caught up with the car parked in a Wendy’s parking lot they fired 42 rounds into it killing the perp, but also injuring both the plaintiff and her son.

The plaintiff brought suit against the Jacksonville sheriff’s department alleging that the officers fired on the car with no regard for the safety of innocent lives and, apparently based on some history of similar actions, that the department has a “widespread practice” of shooting citizens without justification.

Most police officers act with reasonable restraint where the safety of innocent people might be in jeopardy and are subject to rigid regulations about when lethal force may be employed, but occasionally we read about a case like this which leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief.

tags: Liability
April 24th, 2013

In a decision from February 2010, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a Superior Court judgment granting damages in the amount of $4.9 million against Central Maine Power Company to a man who was severely injured when the mast of a sailboat he was moving in a boatyard came in contact with a power line.

The court held that CMP was negligent, because it had strung its lines too low knowing that they were within the area of a known boatyard operation, even though the power lines were strung over a public road, Rt. 166 in the Town of Penobscot.  The case turned on an interpretation of a Public Utilities Commission rule requiring a 45.5 foot height in an area intended to be used by the public for launching and rigging sailboats.

tags: Auto Accidents, Dangerous Premises, Liability
April 22nd, 2013

As strange as it seems IHOP (formerly International House of Pancakes) is feeling threatened by a religious organization, even to the point of bringing a lawsuit to stop the religious group from using the same name which is a registered trademark of the restaurant chain.

It seems that the International House of Prayer has persisted in using the IHOP designation in spite of being asked to stop on several occasions.  Although one would not think that restaurants and churches are easily confused, the suit claims that this misuse of its trademark is causing IHOP “great and irreparable injury” and is confusing the public.  Go figure.

tags: Uncategorized
April 19th, 2013

We can only guess at what portion of the enormous cost of medical care in this country can be attributed to fraud, but we can take some comfort in the fact that the government is actively pursuing the criminals who are elevating expenses for the rest of us.

A joint health care fraud strike force (the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team – HEAT) shut down a massive Medicare fraud operation in Miami which netted $83 million since 2003.

The American Therapeutic Corp. and its sister companies faked medication and care charts and paid owners of assisted living facilities and halfway houses to bring patients to their mental health centers for therapy sessions which were never held and from which the patients would not have benefitted even if given.  Employees falsified medical records to make it look like the patients had a mental illness and needed medication and therapy.

Let’s hope that the drive to cut back on government spending does not include reductions in law enforcement in the area of Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

tags: Insurance Benefits
April 17th, 2013

Whether or not to get involved in a high speed chase with a person wanted for a crime is always a difficult decision for police.  On one hand there is the motivation to apprehend the person who is fleeing and on the other is the consideration of the danger that such a chase poses, not only for the fugitive and the police themselves but also for the public at large.  When innocent people on the highway get hurt, the police may be guilty of negligence.

A Detroit couple sued the police department after they received permanent injuries when they were hit from behind by the car that the police were chasing, causing them to crash into a telephone pole.

Generally police will be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the risk posed by a high speed chase.

tags: Auto Accidents, Liability
April 15th, 2013

In an unusual case from 2010,  the Supreme Court of Maine has upheld a jury finding in Superior Court which resulted in an award of zero to a plaintiff who sought recovery for injuries sustained in an automobile collision.

The parties agreed that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the collision, but the court found that the jury was justified in awarding no damages where there was evidence that the plaintiff had engaged in a number of rather strenuous physical activities following the accident.

tags: Auto Accidents, Recovery
April 10th, 2013

In a landmark decision in June of 2010 Justice Crowley of the Maine Superior Court ruled that a person who observes an injury to his domestic partner is entitled to recover damages for the resulting emotional distress.

In this case plaintiff was the operator of a motorcycle, and his domestic partner was a passenger behind him when a car operated by the defendant turned left in front of them causing both plaintiff and his girlfriend to be thrown from the bike.  In the instant which ensued plaintiff sat up and saw his partner lying on the ground moaning and rocking with cuts on her face and with swollen eyes.  Because she was not responsive to him plaintiff concluded that she was seriously injured and he experienced anxiety that she might die or be permanently injured.

Recovery for bystander emotional distress has been limited by most courts to family members or persons with a “family relationship”, precluding people who are not “closely related to the victim”.

Plaintiff and his partner had co-habited for eight years, were registered as domestic partners with the City of Portland and maintained joint bank accounts.  He carried her on his health and dental insurance, and she was the beneficiary of his life insurance.  They filed separate tax returns and had no plans to marry.


In concluding that their relationship was equivalent to actual family ties Justice Crowley has taken a bold step in bringing the law into conformity with the reality of the modern world in which many couples have the close bond of marriage without the benefit taking the legal step to get married.


tags: Auto Accidents, Bus Accidents, Dangerous Premises, Defective Products, Dog Bites
April 5th, 2013

A suit filed by two current and one former officer charges that the Los Angeles Airport Police Department discriminated against white officers and favored African-American officers.  The suit claims that the department is “racially charged” and that white officers were passed over for promotions even though they had the highest test scores.


I think that we all realize that racial discrimination can be directed against the members of any racial group, but we do not often see a situation where African-Americans, who historically have been the victims of discrimination, are accused of directing negative bias against whites.  The law is clear that whoever is the subject of racial discrimination is entitled to compensation.

tags: Uncategorized
April 1st, 2013

A jury in federal court in New Hampshire has awarded $21 million to a woman who suffered blindness and scarring as a result of extreme burns to her skin, mucus membranes and eyes after taking the prescription anti-inflammatory drug Sulindac for shoulder pain.  It was determined that the manufacturer of the drug, Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. was liable because is should have known the drug was unreasonably dangerous to some users.


Even when a drug has been given the okay by the Federal Drug Administration, manufacturers are still responsible for making sure that the drug is safe for most consumers.  Failure to find out the dangers of a product is a basis for legal liability, as is a failure to warn of known potential dangers.

tags: Liability
March 29th, 2013

The widow of a Florida highway patrolman has filed suit against Ford Motor Company following the death of her husband who was killed when his Crown Victoria cruiser burst into flames when struck in the rear.  The suit claims that the car was poorly designed in that the gas tank was located in an unsafe position where it could easily ignite when the car was struck from the rear.


Manufacturers of products ranging from toasters to steam engines have the responsibility to design their products so that they do not pose an unreasonable threat to people who use them in ways that the manufacturer should have anticipated.  However, if a design feature can cause harm only if the product is misused, then the manufacturer will not be held responsible for injury to someone who uses the product in a way for which it was not intended.

tags: Auto Accidents, Defective Products, Liability
March 27th, 2013

Following the death of a firefighter in a fire in Houston his family has filed suit seeking to keep his death benefits from being paid to his widow.  It seems that about a month before he died the fireman had separated from his wife after learning that she was born a man, but had undergone sex change surgery.  In the lawsuit the family cites Texas state law which prohibits same-sex marriage and asks that the benefits go to the fireman’s two sons by a former marriage.


Same-sex marriage is already as contentious as any issue in the public forum today, but here we have an added complication: how does the law define who is a man and who is a woman?

tags: Insurance Benefits
March 25th, 2013

There are certain circumstances and situations where the law allows critical, even slanderous, statements such as in a political context, but speaking from the pulpit is not one.

A Georgia jury has awarded $500,000 plus attorney’s fees to a woman who claimed that her pastor made slanderous remarks about her in church.  The lawsuit alleged that the clergyman made false statements about the plaintiff that insulted her and insinuated that she had committed “some form of fornication”, a claim which she denied.  According to the woman the pastor targeted her because of the way she dressed and because he did not think she was submissive enough.

tags: Uncategorized
March 15th, 2013

We all say that everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs, but that apparently does not apply at Augusta State University in Georgia where the school has allegedly threatened to expel a student if she refuses to change her views against homosexuality.  Jennifer Keeton, a graduate student, has sued the university for unspecified damages because homosexuality “goes against her Christian beliefs.”


It is hard to imagine a university making such a threat, even in the deep South, but this student apparently felt threatened, so she has turned to the place where so many people go when they are frustrated or angry: the courts.  This may seem a huge waste of judicial resources, but courts have a way of straightening these things out rather quickly, and it is better to go through many frivolous claims than to overlook one that has merit.

tags: Uncategorized
March 13th, 2013

A former football player for the Cleveland Browns has reached an undisclosed settlement of his suit against the team claiming that as a result of the team’s failure to sterilize their practice facility properly he contracted a staph infection in his knee.  The infection caused the player to miss two seasons and led to his early retirement.  Four other players contracted staph infections in the same facility between 2003 and 2009.


Employers, especially in high-risk enterprises such as operation of a professional football team, are obligated to provide a reasonably safe environment for their employees.  The danger of infection is probably not something that is very apparent in a football training facility, but a failure to make sure that sanitary conditions exist, can, as happened in this case, result in damages far beyond what might be expected.

tags: Uncategorized
March 8th, 2013

Perhaps it is fortunate that domestic airlines no longer offer meals to coach class customers.


In response to a Freedom of Information Act request the FDA has revealed that its inspections have found health and sanitation violations in the kitchens of catering facilities that prepare airline food.  The violations include improper food storage temperatures and the use of  “unclean equipment and . . . workers who practice poor hygiene.”  The companies reported on are LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group which are the world’s biggest airline caterers and which provide more than 100 million meals annually, serving nearly all of the large American airlines including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental.


This is certainly not a happy thought for first class passengers who are the (un)lucky ones who get the meal with the price of the ticket.

tags: Uncategorized
March 1st, 2013

There has been a settlement of a lawsuit against the City of Baltimore based on a claim that the city police department was arresting people without cause.  It was alleged that one-third of the people arrested in 2005 were released without charges, and officers who failed to maintain high arrests rates were reassigned to less desirable positions.  The settlement provides for payments of almost $900,000 by the city.   Although it is far from perfect and does not always correct injustices, we should be grateful that our civil justice system at least has the capacity to weed out and correct abuses and that sometimes it actually works quite well.

tags: Uncategorized
February 20th, 2013

The handbag maker Coach has brought suit against the city of Chicago over the sale of counterfeit purses which, the suit claims, are being sold at the Maxwell Street Market.  The suit claims that hundreds of vendors are selling knock-off Coach products “out in plain view” causing the company substantial damages.  Coach wants the city to force the vendors to stop selling the fake bags. Fair enough.  The city police department has the responsibility of enforcing the law, and if the allegations are true, then the vendors are violating the legal rights of the manufacturer.  On the other hand, it would seem that this is a civil matter, a controversy between private parties and does not entail any criminal violation.  The police probably do not have the resources nor even the responsibility to get involved.  Anyway, how can anyone expect a cop on the beat to discern the difference between a genuine Coach bag and a knock-off?

tags: Uncategorized
February 15th, 2013

In a case inJacksonville, Florida, the city and the police department have agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a claim by a woman who was arrested for going through a red light while being rushed to the hospital in premature labor.  The police arrested her in the lobby of the emergency room and took her outside in handcuffs until a nurse noticed that she had vaginal bleeding and was in false labor.  An appeals court ruled that the police officers should have recognized that she was in a medical emergency.

We give police a certain amount of power over us in order that we can be protected from violators of the law, but we expect that this power will be exercised with a certain amount of common sense and good judgment.  Sometimes it is hard to understand how misguided the actions of police officers can be.

tags: Uncategorized
February 12th, 2013

Based on a fiery crash in which two girls were killed, a California jury has awarded $15 million to their families..  The girls were riding in a Chrysler PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  A month before the crash Chrysler had issue a recall of PT Cruisers for a defect that could cause the car to catch fire, but the rental company had not returned the car for repairs. A very unusual aspect of this case is that the defendant, Enterprise, admitted that “their negligence was the sole proximate cause of the fatal injuries.”  The only question to be answered by the jury was the size of the award. As I have mentioned before, there is a law in Maine which limits the amount which can be recovered in a wrongful death action for the loss of a loved one to $500,000 which essentially means that our Legislature considers a life in Maine to be worth less than a life in other states.  In the case cited here, if the crash occurred in Maine, assuming that the girls’ future earnings would not be a factor, the families would have been able to recover only a total of $1 million compared to the value of $15 million placed on their lives by a California jury.

tags: Uncategorized
February 8th, 2013

Product liability cases come in all shapes and sizes.  In Florida a lawsuit has been filed against Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. seeking recovery for the deaths of four Jacksonville teenagers in a motor vehicle accident involving a group of nine students who were headed for the beach in an SUV when one of the tires blew out.  The suit is based on a claim that an inappropriate manufacturing process made the tire susceptible to tread separation.


Thousands of manufactured products are placed in the stream of commerce every year for use or consumption by the American public.  Sometimes a defect in the design or manufacture of an item, even though appearing to be safe and being used in a way that appears to be safe, can cause a malfunction resulting in serious injury or death.  Even after a tragic event has occurred the defect is often not obvious and can only be discovered through the efforts of an attorney who is willing to look beyond the obvious and to consult with experts in the field.

tags: Defective Products, Liability
January 30th, 2013

Distracted Driving – (Again)                                                January 28, 2013

Yesterday I read in the paper that a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Safety shows that although most drivers admit that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, more than two-thirds say that they have done so recently.  This disconnect between what we should do and our actions in actual practice is something that I can understand.

For many of us, myself included, since childhood the ringing phone was an urgent call to action.  There was no thought of letting it ring or any indifference to who might be calling or what they might be calling about.  The ringing phone was no less compelling than as if it was a call for help from someone caught in a burning building, or from someone in mortal danger during a robbery, which it might have been for all we knew (and this was, of course, before 911).  Letting a caller dangle on the other end of the line while the phone continued to ring was unthinkable, the height of discourtesy and incivility.  We were duty bound to run, not walk, to pick up the receiver.

So now enter the mobile telephone which nearly everyone carries on his or her person at all times with rare exception, including, of course, while operating a motor vehicle.  When the darn thing starts ringing, with whatever exotic ring tone we may have selected, the ingrained reaction, at least for people with my upbringing, is to tap or swipe, depending on the model of phone, to put it to the ear and to answer with a polite, “Hello?”.

We are well aware that driving while talking on a cell phone is dangerous and that many serious, even fatal, accidents are caused by distracted driving, but failing to answer the call takes a grim determination and self-discipline that is no easy task to manage.  The longer the phone rings the more and more guilt gets piled on.  Maybe our failure to answer is an affront to a good friend, or perhaps it is Aunt Gertrude calling to inform us of the death of Uncle Charlie.  We might be missing the call we have been hoping for on some great business deal.  Or it might be a call for help from someone caught in a burning building.

Hopefully we will, in time, be able to train ourselves to resist the temptation to answer the phone while driving, but I have no doubt that it will take a major effort.  I have even observed men who answer the siren call of the cell phone in the middle of a round of golf!

Don Lowry


tags: Uncategorized
January 25th, 2013

It’s hard to know who you can trust these days.  When the Wrigley Co., maker of Eclipse chewing gum and mints says that its product is, “scientifically proven to kill bad breath,” who would doubt it?  In fact the company was able to charge premium prices for its products based on this claim.


But wait a minute!  Wrigley has now reached a $6 million settlement of a class action lawsuit which alleged that the claim was false and that the inflated prices were made under false pretenses.  The company apparently conducted flawed studies in order to obtain favorable, but certainly not “scientific”, results.  As a part of the settlement Wrigley will remove the claim from packaging for Eclipse gum and mints.

tags: Uncategorized
January 23rd, 2013

The deaths of two children 2010 (in two separate incidents) has resulted in a rethinking of an old safety standard for toys and the mandatory recall of 1.8 million toy dart gun sets.  In each incident the child suffocated after inhaling the darts when the suction cups blocked their airways.  The recall was ordered only after the second death, even though they occurred nine months apart, because the safety standard at the time was based on the assumption that children over the age of three generally will not put something unsafe in their mouth.


Toys can often pose unexpected dangers to children, and it is an ongoing struggle by federal regulators to discover the risky items and to keep them out of the marketplace.  Unfortunately their efforts sometimes fail with resulting tragedy.  The efforts of trial lawyers are a major factor in deterring manufacturers from producing and selling unsafe toys.

tags: Defective Products, Liability
January 21st, 2013

The city of Baltimorehas been the object of complaints by parents who say that its public school system has been lax about protecting their children from bullying in school.  The parents of one 9-year-old student has sued the city and the school system after the boy tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in the special education classroom.  The lawsuit alleges that the teacher ignored his complaints about being bullied, including being hit in the back with a desk, and that the teacher took pictures with a cell phone before helping him. It is unacceptable that kids should feel intimidated about going to school, nor should parents have to be concerned for the safety of their children when sending them to be educated.  School systems should be held responsible for being sure that teachers and other school employees are sensitive to this issue and are trained to take appropriate steps to make sure that all students understand that bullying is wrong and will not be tolerated.

tags: Uncategorized
January 16th, 2013

I am sure you remember the al-Qaida attack in 2001 on the destroyer U.S.S. Cole in a port on Yemenin which 17 Navy men lost their lives.  The immediate survivors of the victims were awarded $8 million to compensate for loss of income.  A new lawsuit has now been filed naming the country of Sudanfor allegedly giving support to those who planned the assault seeking an additional $100 million for punitive and emotional damages.

We, of course, cannot prejudge the case, because we do not have the facts before us, but it is scary to think that a country’s government would condone, much less support, the commission of such a heinous crime.

tags: Uncategorized
January 11th, 2013

4/21/10 - The former chief attorney for the Houston Metro Transit Authority was fired after she tried to prevent Metro employees from destroying documents which she claimed had to be retained under the provisions of the Texasdocument-retention law.  She has now sued the Transit Authority seeking reinstatement in her job and for legal costs under the Texas Whistleblower Act.


It behooves any employer who wishes to terminate an employee, for whatever reason, to be sure that there are legitimate reasons for the dismissal and that the record is clear on this, especially if the employer may be seen as having some basis for acting for a reason which is discriminatory and prohibited by law.

tags: Uncategorized
January 9th, 2013

Last week in Boston a jury awarded $81 million in punitive damages to the estate of a woman who allegedly was induced to take up smoking as a child by the marketing efforts of a  tobacco company, Lorillard, Inc., and who died of lung cancer in 2002.  This recovery for punitive damages is to be added to a verdict by the same jury awarding $71 million in compensatory damages earlier in the week.


The attorney for the tobacco company urged the jury to look forward and not to punish the company for what occurred in the past, because the harmful actions complained of have all been corrected.  The company has conceded that smoking causes cancer, it no longer advertises cigarettes on radio or television and does not pass out cigarette samples.


The lawyer for the estate of the deceased woman and for her only son, however, argued that the jury should punish Lorillard for its past acts to make sure that it would never happen again.  The jury obviously agreed.


The subject of punitive damages is controversial, because the huge amounts which are often involved appear to be nothing more than a windfall for the plaintiff.  The argument in favor of this type of damages, however, is that the only meaningful penalty for a large corporation for dishonest behavior is a large sum of money.  A paltry few million dollars would have little impact on a company the size of Lorillard.  Of course a promise to behave in the future will not usually be a sufficient excuse to avoid being punished for truly immoral acts in the past.


TheSupreme   Judicial Courthas adopted standards for punitive damages which make such recoveries next to impossible inMaine.  In order to be subject to punitive damages a party must be found to have acted with malicious intent, a standard of proof which few plaintiffs can meet.

tags: Liability
January 9th, 2013




Too often patients in hospitals suffer worse consequences than the injury or illness which brought them there.  It is well known that hospitals are probably the worst possible places to contract an infection, and many patients suffer debilitating injury or death as a result of an infection which was carried by some inadequately sterilized device or dressing, by material which has not been appropriately disposed of or by contaminated food or eating utensils.  It is also well-known that these infections are all preventable.


In a move toward dealing with these preventable infections and deaths mostU.S.hospitals will begin reporting the number of patients who contract bloodstream infections following treatment in intensive care units beginning this month.  The information gathered in these reports will be made public on a government web site later this year and will give consumers an easy way to see which hospitals are best at protecting patients.  Any hospital, of the 4300 acute-care hospitals in the country, which fails to comply with the new reporting requirements, will lose 2 percent of their Medicare funding.

tags: Hospital negligence
January 2nd, 2013

Test Video



Too often patients in hospitals suffer worse consequences than the injury or illness which brought them there.  It is well known that hospitals are probably the worst possible places to contract an infection, and many patients suffer debilitating injury or death as a result of an infection which was carried by some inadequately sterilized device or dressing, by material which has not been appropriately disposed of or by contaminated food or eating utensils.  It is also well-known that these infections are all preventable.


In a move toward dealing with these preventable infections and deaths mostU.S.hospitals will begin reporting the number of patients who contract bloodstream infections following treatment in intensive care units beginning this month.  The information gathered in these reports will be made public on a government web site later this year and will give consumers an easy way to see which hospitals are best at protecting patients.  Any hospital, of the 4300 acute-care hospitals in the country, which fails to comply with the new reporting requirements, will lose 2 percent of their Medicare funding.

tags: Uncategorized
November 28th, 2012
tags: Uncategorized