Maine Negligence Laws
When another person harms you via an accident, the law may provide a way to obtain compensation from them for your injuries. The legal concept of owing a duty to other people, but not meeting the standard of care you should toward them, is called negligence.
One way negligence may happen is in driving. People generally know that you shouldn't run red lights or stop signs. If a person fails to see a stop sign and runs directly into the person who had the right of way, they could be considered negligent. Even though the driver didn't mean to harm the other person, they can still be liable.
The Elements of Negligence
Negligence is an area of law fairly uniform from one state to the next. Usually, the elements that must be shown in a negligence case are:
- Defendant owed plaintiff a duty to act or not act in a certain way,
- Defendant breached that duty,
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiff to get injured,
- Defendant's actions (or omissions) could reasonably be foreseen to cause plaintiff's injuries, and
- Plaintiff has some form of damages, examples of which are medical bills and lost wages.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
The two main negligence systems used in the U.S are contributory negligence and comparative negligence.
In states that use the traditional contributory negligence standard, any fault on the part of the plaintiff bars them from recovering damages. This system could mean that a plaintiff might be found 1% at fault, while the defendant was 99% at fault. In such a case, under this type of negligence standard, the plaintiff gets no relief for their damages. Fortunately, it's only used in a few states today.
The second method is called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to recover from the defendant even if partially at fault, but only for the percentage the defendant was at fault.
Comparative negligence comes in two main types: “pure" and “modified."
In a pure system, a jury can find the defendant 1% at fault and the plaintiff 99% at fault, and the plaintiff can still recover that small amount. In a modified system, the plaintiff only recovers if they were not more negligent than the defendant. Some states allow plaintiffs to recover as long as they are less than 50% at fault, while others say 49% or less at fault. Maine is a 49%-or-less-at-fault state.
The following table further details the negligence laws in Maine.
|Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 156: Comparative Negligence|
Modified Comparative Negligence
|Maine uses a modified comparative negligence system.|
Contributory Negligence Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery
|Plaintiff may recover for their damages as long as they are not found to be equally or more at fault than the defendant.|
Contribution Among Tortfeasors
|Tortfeasors can be found “jointly and severally liable" for the plaintiff's damages or financial costs and injuries. Defendants can request the jury assign a percentage of fault to each defendant. If a joint tortfeasor pays for everything, they have a right to contribution that can be enforced in a separate legal action. This is an equitable or natural justice right, not a right provided by the statutes.|
|Maine hasn't adopted the current Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act, which was originally the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act. However, as stated above, defendants in Maine do have a right to contribution from parties that are also found to be responsible for the accident or injury.|
Note: State laws are changed regularly by legislators, the judiciary, and the people by vote. Please contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state negligence laws.
Research the Law
Consider reviewing the following resources, if you would like to learn more about laws in Maine:
Consider reviewing these resources, as well, for more information about claims related to negligence or injuries:
Next Steps: Speak with an Attorney About Your Negligence Claim in Maine
Being injured in an accident can have a significant impact on your family and friends. This is especially true if you're no longer able to do certain activities or if you've had to pay medical expenses for your injuries. Fortunately, you may have recourse under Maine negligence laws. To learn more, it's best to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney in Maine who can review the facts of your case to determine whether you might be able to recover for your losses.
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