Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Spin Papa dog MGD©.jpgUnder Under section 3952 of Title 7 of the Maine Revised Statutes, anyone who owns or keeps a dangerous dog can be fined between $250 and $1,000. If a dangerous dog hurts you, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for negligence and reimbursement for injuries under section 3961. In Maine, when a dog injures someone who is partly at fault for the injury, the damages will not be reduced unless the court determines the plaintiff’s fault for the attack exceeds the fault of the dog owner.

Maine is a strict liability state for dog bite and dog attack cases. When an injury happens on a dog owner’s property, a plaintiff must show that the owner was negligent. When the injury does not occur on the owner’s property, a plaintiff does not need to show negligence.

In a 2013 case, Fields v. Hayden, a woman who had been attacked by a dog appealed from a summary judgment in favor of the landlords of the dog’s owners. The woman alleged that the attacks occurred because the landlords were negligent. The case arose when the defendant landlords leased a single family home to a couple, the Perrys. The lease provided that the Perrys were allowed to have pets in the home, but that they would be responsible for property or other damage caused by the pets. Their dog allegedly attacked the plaintiff on three occasions.
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paint-bucket-205075-m-2.jpgLead paint is toxic and has a number of dangerous effects on unborn infants and children. The risk of unwittingly being exposed to lead paint is particularly high in older houses. Symptoms of lead poisoning include behavioral problems, anemia, headaches, and impacts on the brain.

In a recent lead paint case, a couple sued individually and for their three minor children in connection with damages suffered due to lead paint. The family had moved into a house they rented. Soon after moving in, their children had medical tests that showed they had elevated blood lead levels. The mother performed a home lead test, which showed the presence of lead in the paint.

The landlord denied there was any lead on the property, claiming the test results came about because of diesel trucks traveling nearby. The couple continued to live there with their children. Their third child was born in the house in 2006. In 2008, blood tests showed the third child had an elevated blood lead level.
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helmet-3-871460-m.jpgRecently, a mason working at a downtown Freeport shopping plaza on a landscaping crew was trying to remove the door of the loader with a coworker when granite steps that were held by the forks of the forklift crushed him. The worker was helping the operator of a loader when the forks and their load dropped on him. The reason for the incident is unclear, although authorities plan to investigate whether the drop was the result of a mechanical problem.

The lawn company that the mason had worked for was previously fined when a 19-year-old worker was riding on a tailgate of a pickup truck and died when the tailgate gave way. It had also been cited for other violations. Unfortunately, falling objects are not as uncommon as they sound, although usually they don’t involve something as heavy as granite stairs and may not result in death. The most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2013 involved fall protection. The top four causes of construction worker fatalities are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, or being pinned between objects.

If a loved one is killed by a falling or crushing object in Maine, his or her family’s ability to recover for wrongful death will be determined by the specific facts surrounding the death. In general, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees who suffer work-related injuries in Maine. Benefits obtained through the Maine workers’ compensation system include medical service payments and lost wages. Employers that are supposed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but don’t, can be sued in civil court for their work-related injuries.
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wooden-electricity-pole-1424476-m.jpgIt can be difficult to prove a utility’s negligence in a Maine personal injury case. However, when a utility fails to follow its own standards and policies, its negligence becomes much easier to demonstrate. A 2010 case illustrates this point.

In the case, a worker was badly burned by electrical injuries when the sailboat mast he had been moving at a private marina connected with a Central Maine Power Company line. The marina rigged and unrigged its customer’s sailboat. The power line at issue ran along a road that divided the boatyard.

The power lines had been installed in 1951. In 1989, a marina operator went to the power company to ask it to raise the lines so that the company could move boats across the road. The power company told the marina that it would have to pay for the costs if it wanted the change.
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caravans-1368753-m.jpgAs we’ve mentioned in other posts, an injured person in Maine who sues for negligence must show: the defendant owed a duty to the injured person, the defendant breached this duty and the breach proximately caused an injury. The duty can be a duty to refrain from doing something or a duty to do something. Maine law has no general obligation for a person to act to protect someone from a harm that he or she did not create. This is true even if the person knows that he or she must act if the other person is to be protected or saved from harm. Thus, without liability, a person may ignore the cries of a drowning man.

A 2009 case challenged this rule in a lawsuit brought by the estate of a person who died after the defendant failed to call for emergency assistance. The case arose when a man and woman in a turbulent relationship were taking some time off at the request of the woman. She was drinking beer with friends at a friend’s trailer in the trailer park where she lived and left after having four or five beers to call her daughter. After she walked back to her own trailer, the man showed up and she asked him to leave. He refused and wouldn’t let her leave either.

The woman and the man’s estate disagreed about what happened next. The woman claimed she tried to call a neighbor on her cell phone to get the man removed from her trailer and that the man got a rifle from his car and broke her phone. The Estate claimed the rifle was already inside the woman’s trailer.
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hand-on-keyboard-1260787-m.jpgDue to the widespread use of Facebook and Twitter, courts all over the country are handling discovery motions related to social media now. At this point, many social media tools are used to “check in” to businesses, identify your location, or mark other information that might otherwise be private.

In Maine, Rule 26 permits parties to obtain discovery regarding a non-privileged matter that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action to the extent that the request is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. This can present a problem for people who use social media without regard to the possibility that it might need to be produced in a lawsuit.

A common scenario happens when you get injured and you either accept a Facebook friend request from someone you do not know or are already Facebook friends with someone who knows the insurer or people that work for the entity responsible for your injury. The new “friend” might be monitoring Facebook posts to see whether you are legitimately hurt.
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