Like many states, Maine maintains a “dram shop” law that allows injury victims to recover compensation from a host or alcohol vendor who provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing an accident. Maine’s “Liquor Liability Act,” provides that vendors who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol may be liable for recklessly or negligently providing alcohol to someone who is intoxicated or under 21 years old.

Negligent alcohol service occurs when the server should have known that the patron was intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Recklessness occurs if the server served alcohol and knew the person was under 21 years old or drunk, and they disregarded a substantial and apparent risk of harm to the individual or another person. In these cases, the vendor may be liable for the intoxicated person’s negligent or reckless conduct towards another individual. Typical vendors in these cases are restaurants, bars, and pubs.

For example, a news report recently described an incident where a 19-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hitting a curb and flipping his Subaru onto its side. The driver did not suffer injuries, but two of his passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. The teenager was speeding, under the influence of alcohol and failed to obey road signs when the accident occurred. In a case like this, a social host or vendor who served the underage driver may be liable for the passengers’ injuries and damages.

Laws governing dog bite cases vary significantly from state to state, and there are many differences regarding attributing liability, filing notices, and applicable damages. Although many states follow the “one-bite rule,” Maine rejected the statute in 2001. Instead, Maine Statute section 3961, provides that an injury victim may hold a dog owner or keeper liable if the dog caused injuries to a person, damaged another’s property, or both, and the injury was not the fault of the victim. Depending on the circumstances of the dog bite, Maine will either apply the strict liability standard or negligence standard.

Under a strict liability theory, an owner or keeper of a dog who injures a person away from the owner’s property may be liable for damages. Thus, through strict liability, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper responsible, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In Maine, a dog’s “keeper” or “owner” is the person in control of a dog or another animal. A person becomes the keeper of a stray animal if the person feeds it for at least ten consecutive days.

In most cases, Maine applies the strict liability standard for dog bite cases. Therefore, the law does not allow for a reduction of damages because of the victim’s contributory negligence. Under this theory, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper liable, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In these cases, the law does not consider the victim’s contributory negligence in any damage calculations. In cases, where a dog causes injuries on the owner’s property, the dog bite victim must be able to establish that the owner failed to exhibit reasonable care in controlling the dog or preventing the victim’s injury.

Each year, thousands of individuals in the United States suffer injuries from defective and dangerous products. Maine product liability laws provide these users and their families a way to recover for the injuries they suffered because of the defective product. Product liability lawsuits typically stem from:

  • Manufacturing Defects
  • Design Defects

Food poisoning can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses, and Maine individuals must understand their rights and remedies in these cases. For example, recently a national news source reported that Chipolte, a popular Mexican restaurant, has agreed to pay a $25 million fine and comply with a food safety program, after serving tainted food from 2015 to 2018.

The company conceded that they were the cause of at least five food poisoning outbreaks in the United States. These outbreaks occurred after employees failed to engage in safe food handling protocols. The company also acknowledged that several employees felt pressure to stay or return to work while they were sick. One outbreak, in particular, was linked to an employee who vomited at work and was asked to continue working.

The tainted food caused over 1,000 people to suffer from food-borne illnesses. The Justice Department brought federal charges against the company for “adulterating” food, after “shipment in interstate commerce.” To resolve the criminal charges, the company agreed to pay the fine. The United States attorney prosecuting the case stated that the company both failed to safeguard their food from contamination and train their staff in food safety protocols.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Maine wrongful death case discussing whether a business owner can be held liable for the intentional, violent acts of a third party, and if so, under what circumstances. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed by the lower court because the plaintiff failed to show that the assault was foreseeable.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a woman was shopping at the defendant supermarket when another female customer approached the woman and attacked her with a knife. The woman died as a result of the attack, and her husband subsequently filed a Maine wrongful death claim against the supermarket, claiming that it was negligent in protecting his wife from the assault.

Evidently, the woman who stabbed the plaintiff’s wife was known in the community, as well as by store management. In fact, there had been several reports that the woman was acting menacingly in front of the store; however, there had been no reports that she ever threatened a customer. And no store employee ever saw her with a weapon. However, customers would occasionally complain that the woman’s physical presence alone was intimidating (apparently, she wore very baggy clothes and had a shaved head). At one point, the woman was banned from the store.

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Individuals who suffer injuries because of another person or entities’ negligence may be able to recover for their damages from the negligent party. Under Maine’s personal injury laws, victims who wish to recover damages must be sure to adhere to the state’s strict procedural and evidentiary rules. Injury victims should consult and retain an experienced Maine injury victim to ensure that their rights and remedies are appropriately addressed.

Maine’s “statute of limitations” provides Maine injury victims with a strict amount of time that they have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable party. In Maine, personal injury plaintiffs must file their lawsuits within six years of when the incident giving rise to the claim occurred. Relative to other states, Maine provides victims with a longer time frame to file their lawsuit; however, plaintiffs still risk dismissal if they fail to abide by the time period. Additionally, there are stricter and shorter deadlines when the claim is against a governmental entity such as a city or county. In those cases, plaintiffs must meet additional notice requirements, and they only have two years to file their claims.

Another critical concept that injury victims must understand is Maine’s comparative fault rule. Maine follows the modified comparative fault rule to resolve cases where the plaintiff is partially responsible for causing their own injuries and damages. Under the law, an injury victim’s damages will be reduced relative to their percentage of fault, as long as they are less than 50% responsible. If the injury victim is more than 50% responsible, courts will bar their claim, and they cannot collect any damages from the other party. The law requires Maine courts to apply the rule whenever the two parties share fault; however, the rule is also relevant during insurance settlement negotiations.

Apportioning liability and recovering compensation in Maine hit and run accidents is typically challenging, and these lawsuits contain unique legal issues. The legal ramifications of Maine hit and run accidents are more serious than a typical traffic accident. Generally, all motorists must exhibit a standard of care when operating their vehicles. When they breach this duty and cause injuries, negligent drivers must take steps to ensure the other party’s safety and mitigate potential damages. When a negligent motorist fails to do this, they may face serious criminal and civil penalties under Maine’s hit and run statutes.

If a Maine driver is involved in an accident resulting in serious personal injury or significant property damage, at a minimum, they must contact law enforcement and emergency services. The driver must also provide the other driver or police with their identifying information, such as their name, contact information, and driver’s license information. Maine classifies leaving the scene of an accident as a “Class C” crime, and hit and run drivers may face driver’s license suspension on top of other fines and penalties.

In addition to potential criminal penalties, Maine hit and run drivers may face significant civil penalties as well. The victim or their loved one may be able to recover damages for their injuries and losses. Although, Maine courts rarely award punitive damages, some plaintiffs may be entitled to these damages in situations where the defendant engaged in intentional malice. Unfortunately, these cases often contain challenges because it may be difficult to locate the negligent motorist, and this can delay proper treatment and financial recovery. Victims of these accidents should contact an attorney to discuss their case and assist with an investigation to ensure that their rights and remedies are effectuated.

Nine months ago, tragedy struck in Norridgewock, Maine, when a car crash on the Fourth of July killed two people. According to a recent news report, a 51-year-old Norridgewock man, was driving his dump truck southbound down Ward Hill Road when he collided with a Pontiac Torrent driven by an 85-year-old woman from Madison. The crash killed the woman in the Pontiac, as well as her passenger, her 80-year-old husband. The driver of the dump truck was taken to Redington Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan but had no life-threatening injuries.

Now, months later, the driver is being charged with Class A manslaughter for recklessly or negligently causing the deaths of the elderly couple. The District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties said that the charge was brought against him after her office reviewed the police’s investigation and the results of an accident reconstruction. In Maine, Class A manslaughter convictions can lead to a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. The defendant, who pled not guilty, is being represented by counsel. In a statement, his lawyer said that the tragic accident was just that, an accident, and that his client tried to stop when the car pulled out in front of him.

The outcome of the case is still unknown; while a court date will be set in the near future, it is currently being postponed due to court shutdowns from the coronavirus pandemic. However, the criminal charge, while it may provide comfort to those who were close to the two victims, does very little to actually help them through the grieving process.

According to a recent report, pediatricians discovered that Baby Brezza, an expensive baby formula maker, may pose serious health risks to infants. The machine is a popular baby registry item and available for sale at various retailers such as Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Amazon. The company markets its’ patented product as an advanced way to mix powdered baby formula and water. However, a recent lawsuit alleges that some of the mixers are defective. This defect causes the product to create a watery formula that is less than required to meet a baby’s nutritional needs.

The initial plaintiffs in this case filed a lawsuit after their 2-month-old daughter began to exhibit increasing signs of fussiness and weight loss. The couple took the baby to her pediatrician, who confirmed the weight loss and sent the child for additional testing to determine the cause. Evidently, the cause was the formula maker, as the machine was dispensing watery formula. Over the last two years, the company received hundreds of complaints about the machine after parents discovered the machine was dispensing incorrect or inconsistent amounts of water. Further, several pediatricians described patients who were diagnosed with failure to thrive, after their parents fed them bottles dispensed from the machine. Additionally, pediatricians warned parents that babies who ingest bottles from this defective product may face other severe gastrointestinal issues, because their systems are not equipped to handle concentrated formula. The company alleges that their products are not defective and any issue is likely the result of caregivers incorrectly using the machine.

Parents who notice that their child is exhibiting changes in their feeding response, temperament, body temperature, or breathing should immediately contact their child’s healthcare provider. This change may be the result of defective formula, baby food, or formula maker. These changes can result in their children suffering severe weight loss, fevers, crying, sleepiness, and other life-threatening conditions. Manufacturing companies and retailers may be held liable under various Maine product liability theories, including negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty theories. These claims often arise from manufacturing errors, failure to warn of possible risks, and design defects. Although the original Baby Brezza lawsuit was filed in another state, parents in Maine should contact an attorney to determine their rights and remedies.

As the days go on, people across the United States have become increasingly concerned about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. The disease is thought to have originated in China and has quickly spread throughout the world. Maine’s Center for Disease Control Director has noted that there are about 30 confirmed cases and 12 presumed positive cases in the state. Although, in the majority of cases, the disease poses a relatively low risk of death, that is not the case for older adults. This is illustrated by how quickly the disease ravaged nursing home residents in Seattle. In some cases, it may be difficult to pinpoint precisely how transmission occurred, but in others, the negligence of a nursing home or their staff may be to blame for a resident’s disease or infection. A Maine nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can assist individuals in determining whether their long-term care facility or nursing home is responsible for their injuries.

Similar to other more commonly known viruses, coronavirus, is more likely to cause serious illness and death to individuals over the age of 65 or those that are immunocompromised. Recent research conducted by the CDC suggests that the fatality rate for individuals ages 60 to 69 is over 3.5%; for those ages 70 to 79, the rate of death if about 8%, and jumps to close to 15% for those 80 years or older. Further, those suffering from heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and hypertension are at an increased risk of fatal complications.

Given this stark reality, nursing homes and assisted living facilities should abide by the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations to prevent the spread of disease. All of these facilities should have plans in place to prevent and control these viruses and infections from spreading to their residents. Moreover, they should have an emergency plan if an outbreak does occur. To minimize the risk of an outbreak, healthcare workers and staff at these facilities should follow basic hygiene habits. This includes thoroughly washing hands before and after providing care to a resident and wearing eye and face protection.

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