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Maine Negligence Laws

When you get in an accident, sometimes another person has harmed you and the law provides a way to obtain compensation for your injuries. The legal concept of owing a duty to other people, but not meeting the standard of care you should towards 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 one of the areas of law that are fairly uniform among the states. Usually, the elements that must be shown in a negligence case are:

  1. Defendant owed plaintiff a duty to act or not act
  2. Defendant breached that duty
  3. The breach of duty caused the plaintiff to get injured
  4. Defendant’s actions (or omissions) could reasonably be foreseen to possibly cause plaintiff’s injuries
  5. Plaintiff has some form of damages, for example medical bills, lost wages, was blinded, etc.

Comparative and Contributory Negligence

The two main negligence systems used in the U.S are contributory negligence and comparative negligence. The traditional contributory negligence finds any fault on the part of the plaintiff bars any recovery for damages. This draconian system could mean a plaintiff found 1% at fault while the defendant was 99% at fault, 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 he or she was about half at fault. Some states allow plaintiffs to recover as long as he or she is less than 50% at fault, 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.

Code Section Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 156: Comparative Negligence
Comparative Negligence Maine uses a modified comparative negligence system. Lawsuit recoveries relating to death or damages are reduced to the extent that the judge or jury thinks is just and equitable consider the plaintiff’s own actions.
Contributory Negligence Limit to Plaintiff’s Recovery A plaintiff’s own negligence only bars recovery if the judge or jury find he or she was 50% or more responsible for the accident, injury, or death.
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes, tortfeasors (or the defendants who caused the “tort” or accident or injury) 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, he has 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.
Uniform Acts No, 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 found also 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.

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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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