Articles Posted in Premise Liability

The Bangor Daily News reported one teen was killed and another seriously injured in a January sledding accident at a Maine ski resort.

Media reports indicate two teens were riding a sled down a ski trail at about 2 a.m. when they hit a tree, badly injuring one rider and killing the other teen. Both teens reportedly attended Portsmouth High School. An Oxford County sheriff’s deputy said the teens were riding a rubber tube on an expert level course. A resort spokesperson said the resort was closed at the time of the accident and does not allow sledding.

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The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reports sledding fatalities are rare. However, serious and fatal Maine ski accidents are not. The agency reported 33 catastrophic injuries at U.S. ski areas last year. With more than a dozen major ski resorts, Maine remains among the nation’s most active skiing destinations, according to the Ski Maine Association.

Recently, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) posted on her Facebook page that she had suffered a fractured ankle that required surgery after she suffered a slip-and-fall accident at her home. Although she didn’t realize any details about exactly how the fall occurred, she indicated the ankle was broken in two places, but the surgery was successful. icicles

Slip-and-fall accidents like the one Collins suffered are an increasing occurrence in Maine during the winter months, when accumulations of ice and snow make walkways and entrances especially hazardous.

Of course, brutally cold, icy, and snowy conditions are just a part of life here in Maine, which makes almost any way of traveling potentially dangerous. The state has gone so far in the past as to issue travel bans during blizzards, but those apply to motor vehicle traffic. Still, property owners owe a common law duty of care to keep their sites reasonably free from potentially slippery conditions for workers, customers, and other types of guests.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of a university and against a student who suffered an injury in a slip-and-fall accident on campus.ice

According to court records, the issue in this case was not the merits of the plaintiff’s case but instead whether she filed within the statutory 180-day filing period according to 14 M.R.S. § 8107, which details the notice that is required when a plaintiff plans to file a lawsuit against a governmental entity. Many colleges are considered governmental entities, and therefore, plaintiffs making injury claims against them must follow such provisions.

Per the facts viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (as the one against whom the summary judgment was entered), the plaintiff suffered an injury when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice outside her dorm on the Gorham campus of the University of Southern Maine. This injury occurred in mid-January 2014. As a result of that fall, the plaintiff suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments and had to undergo surgery.

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Most businesses carry general liability insurance, particularly if they invite customers on site to do business. That’s because under Maine statutes, a person who is invited onto the property for the financial benefit of the property owner is owed the highest duty of care and has the right to expect they will be reasonably safe. General liability insurance typically covers businesses from liability lawsuits stemming from claims like slip-and-fall injuries, falling merchandise, or some other dangerous condition. bar

However, those establishments that sell alcohol and invite patrons to drink on site should consider additional coverage because there are claims unique to these entities. For example, some bars and restaurants face the possibility of dram shop liability, in which those injured by a drunk driver can sue the bar where workers served that driver alcohol. Another possibility is that of third-party liability for criminal assault. Of course, there is a potential for this kind of action in many different business settings, but especially so at a bar where patrons’ inhibitions may be lowered, making some more aggressive and others more vulnerable.

In a recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court case, the question is whether an insurance company should have to indemnify the business for injuries sustained by a man who was beaten by a fellow patron at the bar. The claim by the bar against the insurer doesn’t have a direct bearing on the injury lawsuit filed by the patron, except that by making the bar directly liable rather than the insurer, there is a risk the bar won’t be able to pay out the full damages, depending on how much those damages are and the health of the business.

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Usually, when we think of property owner liability, we’re thinking of a business that is responsible after a customer slips and falls or is attacked in a parking lot. But premises liability can extend to private homeowners too. It does depend on the situation, and private homeowners usually don’t owe the same high level of care to their guests that businesses do when they welcome members of the public. Nonetheless, a failure to use reasonable care can result in liability. Claims are typically paid by one’s homeowners’ insurance. glass door

Recently, the father of a single mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a private homeowner responsible for a house in Waterville where his daughter suffered a fatal fall from the second story.

According to The Portland Press Herald, the 33-year-old woman, from Clinton, was killed a year ago after she fell after stepping out a set of sliding glass doors on the second floor. The problem was that while the doors were supposed to open up to a balcony, that feature hadn’t yet been built. Nonetheless, the homeowner, who was hosting a holiday party, failed to block off those doors or take measures to stop people from opening the door or from walking outside.

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A police officer wading into a rowdy college crowd in Orono to arrest unruly guests fell and broke his ankle. As this incident occurred while he was working, he’s almost certainly entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, that only covers part of his expenses, and he has since filed a premises liability lawsuit against the apartment complex where he fell. nightparty

In Angelo v. Campus Crest at Orono LLC, the Old Town police officer alleges the management company that operates The Grove apartment complex – the largest off campus living quarters near The University of Maine – was negligent in failing to maintain the property in safe condition. The party to which he responded from outside his jurisdiction was huge, with an estimated 400 people – mostly students – in attendance. Many were drinking alcohol, despite being underage.

Apartment complex managers may not be responsible for every gathering at their location, but the issue here was the fact this was a regular occurrence on this site. The complex opened in 2012, and there was a similar large party that took place there at that time. There was another large party there the following year, just after school started. In this instance, students again amassed on the site the first weekend after classes started. Continue reading

The issue of comparative fault in Maine personal injury lawsuits is a significant one because, depending on the degree of it, an injured person’s right to collect damages may be significantly reduced or eliminated entirely. treestump

Maine Revised Statute Titel 14 Part 1 Chapter 7 Section 156 covers “comparative negligence.” The law states that when a person suffers death or damages that are party the result of that person’s own fault, the claim isn’t barred entirely, but the amount of damages recoverable are to be reduced to such an extent the jury believes equitable, accounting for claimant’s share of responsibility. So if a plaintiff wins $100,000 in damages but is deemed to be 25 percent comparatively negligent, he or she will only collect $75,000 from defendant.

If a plaintiff is determined to be equally or more at-fault for his or her injuries, plaintiff cannot recovery any damages. Continue reading

Anytime a patron of a store lawfully enters that commercial property, he or she has a right to expect the business – and its agents – will act with reasonable care to ensure the site will be kept in reasonably safe condition. That includes making sure shelves are safely stacked, aisles are clear of debris and substances, lighting is adequate, and entrances stairways, walkways and parking lots are in good condition.shoppingcarts

It also means employees must act with reasonable care when carrying out their jobs.

When this does not happen, it’s a form of premises liability. That’s what is alleged in the recent Portland case of Sayed v. Wal-Mart, in which a man says he was strapping his infant son into the front of a shopping cart when an employee of the store negligently rammed a line of shopping carts into his back.

City health and safety regulators in Bangor are only authorized to initiate an inspection of private property when there is a complaint from either residents or landlords. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That could soon change, as a proposal before city council would launch a new program providing for routine inspections of some 6,000 local apartment units. Officials would be scanning the property for dangerous conditions amounting to health and safety code violations.

The goal, according to Bangor’s community and economic development director, would be the assurance that renters are granted the healthy, safe living quarters to which they are entitled.

Extreme winter weather conditions are a part of life in Portland and throughout Maine, making virtually every mode of transportation potentially perilous. This was part of the reason the state issued a travel ban during the most recent blizzard. icyparkinglot

Given the frequency of such storms, property owners must be vigilant about ensuring the premises is reasonably free from slippery conditions for employees, customers and other guests.

Legislators in Maine have wrestled with just how much responsibility business owners should have to safeguard their site against such hazards.

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