October is a time for apple cider, doughnuts, hayrides, and haunted houses. The last thing anyone expects is to “fight for your life” from a “fright for the night.”
A 17-year-old girl died and more than 20 others were injured during a Halloween-themed hayride at Harvest Hill Farm in Mechanic Falls, Maine. The flatbed trailer was being pulled by a Jeep SUV when the driver apparently missed a turn at the top of a hill. The trailer jackknifed and the Jeep went off the steep, narrow dirt road. The trailer loaded with riders went crashing down a hill and slammed into a tree, throwing its passengers to the ground. Although the investigation is ongoing, police believe a mechanical problem may have prevented the SUV from stopping. The state fire marshal is inspecting the trailer; state police are inspecting the vehicle that was pulling the wagon.
While state fire marshals inspect and license mechanical amusement rides in Maine, but hayrides do not require such licensing. This does not excuse businesses and property owners from failing to insure their customers are safe. If it is determined that the owners or the driver of the Jeep were negligent or careless, such as failing to properly maintain the Jeep and trailer or overloading the trailer, they can be held accountable. If it is determined that the brakes failed due to a mechanical error or defective product, the auto manufacturer can be held accountable as well.
As a family mourns the loss of a young girl and many others heel from injuries, they may wish to consult an experienced attorney to understand their rights. Although a lawsuit can help the victims received compensation for damages, it will not be an easy road. Often times, it will take months, even years before a settlement is reached. Most likely, the defendants and their insurance companies may attempt to raise the doctrine known as assumption of the risk. While an attorney works to achieve the maximum case value, those with limited income may struggle to keep their case strong. That is where lawsuit funding comes in.
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