Under state law, a negligent city, town, county, or state government official may be held liable for negligence through a Maine personal injury lawsuit. However, unlike typical personal injury claims, these cases impose significant burdens on injury victims. For over a century, the doctrine of sovereign immunity protected states and government agencies from civil lawsuits for their negligent conduct. However, to address the inherent unfairness in the doctrine, lawmakers have determined that these laws are not absolute.
Those who have suffered injuries because of a Maine government entity’s negligence may file a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) or the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA). The avenue of relief depends on the case’s circumstances, including the defendant, injury, and accident location. The FTCA provides Maine citizens a way to hold federal government employees liable for their tortious acts. On the other hand, the MTCA, is more restrictive, and allows these lawsuits in limited circumstances.
Under the MTCA, injury victims can pursue lawsuits against government employees under four circumstances. The first circumstance includes when the lawsuit stems from the government’s negligent ownership or maintenance of a vehicle or machinery. The following situation, is when the injury occurred at a public government building. This includes locations such as police stations, fire departments, public schools, and libraries. However, the government is not liable for accidents occurring because of the ownership or maintenance of areas such as historical sites or unimproved land. Lastly, the government may be liable for damages resulting from road construction or pollutant discharge.
Although the law lays out the situations where a claim is viable, many events may not align with these parameters. For example, a district court recently issued an opinion addressing whether a fire department could be liable. In that case, a woman, her son, and her stepfather died in an apartment building fire. The woman called 911, and the dispatcher advised her to remain inside, assuring her that help was on the way. However, the firefighters first drove to the wrong location, then when they arrived at the correct address, they did not know that the family was waiting inside. The firefighters extinguished the fire, and the family died from smoke inhalation. The estate filed a lawsuit alleging that the fire department was liable under a state law theory. However, the court concluded that the family did not have a negligence claim based on several issues, including a history of issues at the residence and the building’s failure to comply with fire codes.
Have You Been Injured Due to the Government’s Negligence?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed due to a government entity or employee, contact the injury attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury claims, including those involving Maine motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, defective products, and incidents of medical malpractice. We provide every client with the personalized attention that they deserve. Our clients have recovered significant amounts of compensation for their damages through our diligent representation and legal acumen. Contact our law firm at 800-804-2004, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our office.