Articles Posted in Premise Liability

Tourism in Maine has reached an all-time high the last several years, with the Maine Office of Tourism reporting an uptick of 8.8 million annual visitors from 2012 to 2018. These tourists spend billions of dollars, support thousands of businesses and more than 105,000 jobs in the state. Among those businesses supported by travelers: Hotels, motels, resorts and rental properties. These property owners owe a duty of care to those on their property. Our Bangor personal injury attorneys note some of these duties may include the responsibility to provide:

  • Adequate security.
  • Safe walking surfaces.
  • Safe ingress/egress.
  • Repair of conditions that might be dangerous (i.e., a broken step, poor lighting, unsafe deck).
  • Adequate lighting

Property owners who fail or don’t regularly inspect conditions on-site to ensure they are reasonably safe for guests may be held responsible in court under the theory of premises liability. Although historically the Maine judicial system set standards for duty of care on the basis of guest designation (i.e., invitee, licensee, trespasser), the 1979 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision in Poulin v. Colby College changed how property liability is determined. In that case, plaintiff sued a college for injuries sustained in a fall on campus. He was considered a “licensee” while the person he was dropping off at the campus was considered an “invitee.” Justices held that, “It no longer makes any sense to predicate a landowner’s duty solely on the status of the injured party as either a licensee or invitee. Perhaps in rural society with sparse land settlements and large estates, it would have been unduly burdensome to obligate an owner to inspect and maintain (the property)…” but such immunity wouldn’t be justified in an industrialized society. Continue reading

Concert season is warming up, and it’s a good time to point out that festival and concert injuries can sometimes be compensated via Maine premises liability claims, which assert negligence by venue owner, promoters and sometimes even the entertainers themselves. Portland injury attorneys in Maine know that while most people go to concerts for a good time, it can unfortunately end badly when patrons are injured.

One such incident in Maine occurred last October, when a Portland concertgoer was injured at State Theatre during a show by Dirty Heads. Authorities confirmed the victim was stabbed and 2,000 people inside were evacuated. The theater has a “No Weapons Allowed” policy, so it’s unclear how someone was able to smuggle a knife inside.

Maine injury attorneys know many times what contributes to concert injuries and festival injuries is the combination of large crowds in a tight space, an atmosphere that is emotionally-charged, performers pushing the limits to ever-more-risky displays to wow crowds and the common presence of drugs and alcohol. There have also been issues with unstable pavilions and railings, inadequate security, etc. Not all injuries that occur at concerts will necessarily result in a valid personal injury claim. For a person who is injured while engaging in an activity they know to be risky (like diving in a mosh pit), it may be difficult to prevail in making a claim, unless the venue or promoters have had ongoing problems with such injuries and fail to take reasonable action to mitigate the risks.  Continue reading

Learning good sportsmanship is one of the primary purposes of youth sports. Yet all over the country – and right here in Maine – serious injuries are reported when parents, players, coaches and fans engage in violence both on and off the field.

Our Portland injury lawyers just recently read about a girls soccer field punch during a playoff game at Lisbon High School, a half hour outside Portland. A video clip (viewed more than 73,000 times on social media before it was removed) shows one player swinging at an opposing player after a scored goal. Later in the game, the clip shows that same player attack again, punching the same girl in the face. The victim fell as she tried to dodge the punch and apparently wasn’t seriously hurt, according to the Portland Press Herald. The video is being reviewed by school officials and no criminal charges have been filed. Less than a week later, the Press Herald reported yet another violent attack at a youth sports game, this time at Scarborough High School, where a 20-year-old resident allegedly stabbed a 15-year-old student in the parking lot during a soccer game half-time.

As Maine injury lawyers know, there may be few remedies available for youth sports players who suffer certain injuries in the course of the game. Depending on the nature of the sport, those injuries may be considered the inherent risk one assumes in playing. (Not always, though, so it’s best to at least discuss your rights with an attorney.) However, when an assault or battery occurs at a sporting event, either among fans or between players or even parents, coaches or referees, parties may be found liable under either negligence or intentional tort law. Continue reading

A Massachusetts Appeals Court has affirmed a multi-million dollar wrongful death judgment awarded to the estate of a woman killed after a vehicle ran into a Chicopee convenience store.

We have seen an increasing number of parking lot injuries and storefront crashes throughout New England in recent years. The Storefront Safety Council reports nearly half of these collisions involve a driver over the age of 60 and about half are attributed to operator or pedal error. The group estimate more than 500 people are killed and 3,600 injured in accidents caused by motorists driving into storefronts each year.

This case resulted in a $32 million verdict against a convenience store company after a woman was struck and killed by a speeding sport utility vehicle (SUV) that crashed through a Chicopee storefront, when the 81-year-old driver lost control. The victim’s husband, as executor of her estate, had argued the company was negligent for not installing bollards or taking other safety measures after hundreds of car strikes at its convenience store locations. The company argued it had no duty of care; that the event was completely random and unforeseeable; and that wrongful death was caused by the negligent actions of the at-fault driver.

Continue reading

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Continue reading

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. 

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.

Continue reading

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. 

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.

Continue reading

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.

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

Contact Information