Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

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wooden-electricity-pole-1424476-m.jpgIt can be difficult to prove a utility’s negligence in a Maine personal injury case. However, when a utility fails to follow its own standards and policies, its negligence becomes much easier to demonstrate. A 2010 case illustrates this point.

In the case, a worker was badly burned by electrical injuries when the sailboat mast he had been moving at a private marina connected with a Central Maine Power Company line. The marina rigged and unrigged its customer’s sailboat. The power line at issue ran along a road that divided the boatyard.

The power lines had been installed in 1951. In 1989, a marina operator went to the power company to ask it to raise the lines so that the company could move boats across the road. The power company told the marina that it would have to pay for the costs if it wanted the change.
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classic-camera-1427640-m.jpgInsurance companies in Maine and other states do conduct surveillance on personal injury claimants, especially those who claim large sums or a major disability. Is this spying legal? Yes, within limits. On the one hand, insurance companies have the right to ferret out fraud and therefore they conduct secret surveillance to make sure claimants aren’t bringing false claims. On the other, most claimants find surveillance creepy, disturbing and an invasion of privacy. Whether or not the surveillance is found to be appropriate depends in part upon where the spying takes place.

There aren’t a lot of Maine appellate cases deciding the extent to which an insurer may conduct surveillance. A 2001 appellate case, however, affirmed the right of an employee to sue for trespass to property, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against a workers compensation insurance company, a private investigation business and a private investigator based on their surveillance activities while the employee received workers compensation benefits.

In one Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, two investigators conducted surveillance on a claimant when she left her house. The court found that because the woman exposed herself to public scrutiny every time she left the house and the surveillance did not extend into her home, the surveillance was not an invasion of her privacy.
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hand-on-keyboard-1260787-m.jpgDue to the widespread use of Facebook and Twitter, courts all over the country are handling discovery motions related to social media now. At this point, many social media tools are used to “check in” to businesses, identify your location, or mark other information that might otherwise be private.

In Maine, Rule 26 permits parties to obtain discovery regarding a non-privileged matter that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action to the extent that the request is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. This can present a problem for people who use social media without regard to the possibility that it might need to be produced in a lawsuit.

A common scenario happens when you get injured and you either accept a Facebook friend request from someone you do not know or are already Facebook friends with someone who knows the insurer or people that work for the entity responsible for your injury. The new “friend” might be monitoring Facebook posts to see whether you are legitimately hurt.
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1400100_power.jpgIn 1995, the Maine Legislature enacted the Overhead High-Voltage Line Safety Act (OHVLSA). It bars people and entities from engaging in specific kinds of conduct around overhead high-voltage power lines until they have notified the line owner or operator. For example, a person or business cannot do work that brings a person or his materials within 10 feet of an overhead high voltage line unless he or she contacts the owner or operator of the line 72 hours behavior doing the work. The person can then negotiate with the owner or operator to arrange for appropriate precautions.

The goal of this statute is to protect the public and keep them safe from the significant personal injuries that are possible when high-voltage lines are nearby. In a recent personal injury case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine considered an employee who was electrocuted when the mast of a customer’s sailboat hit a power line. The employee was burned and permanently injured. He got worker’s compensation benefits and also sued the owner of the power line, Central Maine Power Company.

The court found that the Public Utilities Commission’s rules and regulations required that a power company should have a vertical clearance of 45.5 feet. The power line in question was only 30 feet.

The court also found that the accident wouldn’t have occurred if the power company had followed the rule requiring 45.5 feet clearance, that the power company did not train its employees on the clearance standards, and that the employee’s employer’s negligence was not the sole proximate cause of his accident and injuries. Accordingly, the court entered judgment and awarded the employee $4,890,631 in damages.
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file000438895133.jpgCreated by Congress, the National Transportation Safety Board, is an autonomous federal agency charged with investigating significant transportation accidents and providing safety recommendations to prevent future occurrences. Since 1974, the NTSB has operated as a separate entity, outside of the Department of Transportation’s umbrella, in an effort to provide unbiased information. The Transportation Safety Board investigates each civil aviation accident, as well as significant marine, railroad, pipeline, hazardous material, and highway events.

Each year, the Board releases a list of recommended transportation safety improvements for the coming year, called its “Most Wanted List” to highlight the need for safety enhancements to various transportation areas based upon its investigations and research. The list is then evaluated and acted upon by federal, state, and independent interests.

This year’s list contains two substantial issues: substance impairment and distraction. In a press release, NTSB’s Office of Public Affairs reports, “the new annual list of the independent federal safety agency’s top advocacy priorities calls for ending distraction in all modes of transportation. Distraction was the cause of multiple accidents investigated by the agency in recent years, and its deadly effects will only continue to grow as a national safety threat.”
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1397629_sail_boat_and_mountain.jpgABOUT RECREATIONAL BOATING ACCIDENTS The U.S. Coast Guard reports that there were:
Approximately 4604 recreational boating accidents 672 deaths 3153 Injuries in 2010 Source: 2010 U.S. Coast Guard Executive Summary Report
For many, the act boating provides hours of outdoor entertainment during the summer months. Boating enthusiasts take to the water on every type of watercraft and engage in such activities as sailing, fishing, water or jet skiing, and tubing, which supply hours of outdoor entertainment and recreation. Regrettably, this enjoyment turns to tragedy each year for thousands of boaters involved in boating accidents. In 2010, the United States Coast Guard reported approximately 4,604 recreational boating accidents, resulting in 672 deaths and 3,153 injuries. These accidents caused an estimated $35.5 million dollars in personal property damage and untold costs in terms of personal harm.

Our state, known for its natural beauty and exceptional waters, attracts serious sailors and novice recreational boaters alike. Maine, dubbed “Vacationland” offers approximately 5,500 miles of coastline, 2000 coastal islands, and 2,500 lakes and ponds to explore.

The majority of boating accidents occur as the result of a boat operator’s inexperience, recklessness, or inattention. According to the US Coast Guard, the top 10 causes of boating accidents are:

• Operator Inattention 
• Improper Lookout 
• Operator Inexperience 
• Excessive Speed

• Alcohol Use • Force of Wave/Wake 
• Hazardous Waters 
• Machinery Failure 
• Rules of the Waterway

• Weather
If you have been injured in a sailboat accident, motorboat accident, personal watercraft accident, or any other transportation or commercial boating accident, in the state of Maine, you are entitled to financial compensation from the negligent parties responsible for your physical, emotional and financial harm.
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