In order to bring a successful negligence claim in Maine, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and damages exist as a result of the injury.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Maine Code Revised Title 14 §156 sets forth a modified comparative fault standard where, if a plaintiff is found to be equally or more at fault for their injury than the defendant, he is completely barred from a monetary recovery. This means that if a plaintiff is found by a court to be 50% or more at fault for their injury, they are unable to recover damages. If the plaintiff is found to be 49% or less responsible, they may recover damages that are reduced in proportion to reflect his share of the fault to an extent considered just and equitable. However, according to the Maine Supreme Court ruling in Jackson v. Frederick’s Motor Inn, 418 A.2d 168, 174 (Me. 1980), the jury has discretion as to how to properly apportion the damages. Therefore, the reduction in damages does not necessarily have to be in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff bringing the claim.
Joint & Several Liability
In Maine, all defendants in a negligence action are jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff for the full amount of a rendered judgment. This means that an injured plaintiff is able to recover a damage award, issued by a court, from any one of several defendants who caused the injury, regardless of each defendant’s degree of fault attributed and apportioned by the court.
If a partial settlement is reached between the plaintiff and a defendant, the amount that a plaintiff recovered from the settlement will offset the overall damage award.
If a plaintiff recovers the full damage award amount from one defendant, despite the fact that, that defendant was not entirely responsible for the injury, that defendant is permitted to seek contribution against the other responsible defendants.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Actual damages are meant to reimburse the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medical expenses. General damages may also be awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of opportunity, and loss of future income.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
In Maine, punitive damages may be awarded if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the behavior of the defendant was malicious or so outrageous that such ill will could be implied. Conduct that a court deems to have been gross, wanton, or reckless does not in itself justify a punitive damage award.
While Maine does not explicitly place cap limits on punitive damage award amounts, an award is generally limited to nine times the amount of compensatory damages ordered by the court.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Maine. Should you have a question/concern specific to Maine law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Maine.