STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
- Personal Property6 Years14 M.R.S.A. § 752
- Personal Injury/Death6 Years14 M.R.S.A. § 752
- Personal Injury/Wrongful Death2 Years18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-804(b)
- Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice3 Years24 M.R.S.A. § 2902
- Breach of Contract/Written6 Years12 M.R.S.A. § 752
- Breach of Contract/Oral6 Years12 M.R.S.A. § 752
- Breach of Contract/Sale of Goods4 Years11 M.R.S.A. § 2-725
- Statute of Repose/ProductsN/AN/A
- Statute of Repose/Real Property10/4 Years14 M.R.S.A. § 752-A*
- Breach of Warranty/U.C.C./Personal Injury6 Years14 M.R.S.A. § 752
- Breach of Warranty/U.C.C./Property Damage4 Years11 M.R.S.A. § 725
- Workers’ Compensation6 YearsMe. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 39-A § 107
- Strict Product Liability6 Years14 M.R.S.A. § 752
Statute of Limitations Exceptions
*10 Years after “substantial completion” of the project or services rendered, but no more than 4 Years after discovery of malpractice or negligence of architect or engineer. 14 M.R.S.A. §752-A.
Contributory Negligence/Comparative Fault
Modified Comparative Fault: 50% Bar. Damaged party cannot recover if it is 50% or more at fault. If 49% or less at fault, it can recover, although its recovery is reduced by its degree of fault. Damages attributed to defendants will be reduced by plaintiff’s negligence. 14 M.R.S.A. § 156.
Med Pay/PIP Subrogation
Med Pay: Yes. $2,000 in Med Pay coverage required. 29-M.R.S.A. § 2910-A. Limited subro allowed, less a prorated portion of recovery costs. 24-A M.R.S.A. § 2910-A. Subro clause must be in policy and must have insured’s prior written approval. York Ins. Group of Maine v. Van Hall, 704 A.2d 366 (Me. 1997).
The six (6) year personal injury statute of limitations runs from the date of insured’s accident. 16 M.R.S.A. § 752 (2001).
PIP: Coverage not applicable.
Automobile and Property: No applicable statute, Administrative Code provision or case law exists.
Made Whole Doctrine
In addition to the limits on priority liens mandated of health insurers in § 2729-A, which applies generally to health insurance policies, similar limitations apply in another statute which applies to group or blanket policies. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 24-A, § 2836 (1976). Maine does not appear to have any case law which discusses application of the Made Whole Doctrine, except for an allusion to the fact that with regard to uninsured motorist subrogation, Maine favors full satisfaction by the insured victim of his damages to which he is legally entitled to recover from the owners or operators of the uninsured vehicle before the right of subrogation attaches. Wescott v. Allstate Ins. Co., 397 A.2d 156 (Me. 1979).
Economic Loss Doctrine
Majority Rule. Maine strictly adheres to the ELD. Oceanside at Pine Point Condominiums v. Peachtree Doors, Inc., 659 A.2d 267 (Me. 1995). With regard to component parts, Maine follows the “Integrated Products Rule”, which is premised on the view that one must look to the product purchased or bargained for by the plaintiff rather than to the particular product sold by the defendant. Fireman’s Fund v. Childs, 52 F.Supp.2d 139 (D. Me. 1999). The relevant product is the product as it is viewed from the purchaser’s prospective. Maine includes service contracts (not including fiduciary relationships) within the purview of the ELD. Maine Rubber Int’l v. Environmental Mgmt. Group, 298 F.Supp.2d 133 (D. Me. 2004). Maine applies the “Integrated Product Rule” to the “other property” exception to the ELD. Childs, supra.
Fire insurer is not entitled, as subrogee, to bring action against tenant to recover for amounts paid to landlord for fire damage to rental premises caused by tenant’s negligence in absence of express agreement between the landlord and tenant to contrary. The landlord and tenant are co-insureds under the fire policy. N. River Ins. Co. v. Snyder, 804 A.2d 399, 403-04 (Me. 2002).
Tort of Spoliation: The Maine Law Court has apparently never recognized such a cause of action, for spoliation of evidence. Gagne v. D.E. Jonsen, Inc., 298 F.Supp.2d 145, 147 (D. Me. 2003); citing Butler v. Mooers, 2001 WL 1708836 (Me. Super., June 13, 2001), at 1. In addition, federal courts sitting in Maine have identified spoliation as a doctrine intended “to rectify any prejudice the non-offending party may have suffered as a result of the loss of evidence and to deter any future conduct, particularly deliberate conduct, leading to such loss of evidence.” Driggin v. American Sec. Alarm Co., 141 F.Supp.2d 113, 120 (D. Me. 2000).
Sanctions: The remedy for spoliation of evidence is sanctions, including “dismissal of the case, the exclusion of evidence, or a jury instruction on the spoliation inference.” Id. This view of the doctrine is not consistent with the existence of an independent cause of action arising out of such deliberate conduct. Rather, the injured party may seek sanctions that will affect its claims or defenses. Pelletier v. Magnusson, 195 F.Supp.2d 214, 233-37 (D. Me. 2002); Elwell v. Conair, Inc., 145 F.Supp.2d 79, 87-88 (D. Me. 2001).
Willful Misconduct. Parents liable for willful/malicious damage to person or property. 14 M.R.S.A § 304.
Minor’s Driving. Any owner who allows a minor to operate their vehicle will be jointly and severally liable for any damage resulting from minor’s negligence. 29-A M.R.S.A. § 1651.
The limit of liability is $800.00. Child must be between 7 and 17.
Modified Joint and Several Liability. Defendants are jointly and severally liable for total amount of judgment to the plaintiff. 14 M.R.S.A. § 156-A; Peerless Div. v. United States Special Hydraulic Cylinders Corp., 742 A.2d 906 (Me. 1999).
Joint tortfeasors have a right to contribution which may be enforced through a separate action. It is an equitable right, founded on the principles of natural justice, as opposed to a statutory right. 14 M.R.S.A. § 156-A; Otis Elevator Co. v. F.W. Cunningham & Sons, 454 A.2d 335 (Me. 1983).
Contribution actions brought within a reasonable period of time not subject to affirmative defense of laches for statute of limitations.
Suspension of Drivers' Licenses
Administrative Suspension: Thirty (30) days after receipt of an abstract of an adjudication of a violation of the financial responsibility law, the Secretary of State will suspend the driver’s license of that person. 29-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1603(1). License will remain suspended until person can provide proof of financial responsibility. 29-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1603(1).
Judgment: Upon receipt of a judgment against the owner or operator of a vehicle involved in an accident, the Secretary will immediately suspend the driver’s license of the judgment debtor. 29-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1603(7). Suspension remains in effect until the owner or operator has obtained a written release, a discharge in bankruptcy or a judgment of no liability, has filed an installment payment of judgment agreement, or has fully satisfied the judgment. 29-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1603.
Contact Information: State of Maine, Dept. of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 29 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0029, (207) 624-9000, http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/.
Diminution of Value
First Party: An insurer’s liability for a loss under the policy extends only to the loss that can be repaired as that term is commonly understood. Because diminution in value is a loss that cannot be repaired, an ordinary person would reasonably conclude that a claim for diminished value is not covered by the policy. No coverage for DV because it is a loss that cannot be repaired, the principle being that a value that cannot be restored is uninsurable (e.g., akin to the sentimental value of a family heirloom). Hall v. Acadia Ins. Co., 801 A.2d 993 (Me. 2002). An owner or subrogated carrier may recover the difference in the value of auto before and after the accident. However, an auto insurance policy, which obligates the insurer to pay lesser of either actual cash value of vehicle at time of loss or amount necessary to repair or replace vehicle, does not mandate liability for diminution in vehicle’s value due to accident despite repair, given that policy’s use of term “repair” was unambiguous, and such diminution was not loss that could be repaired. Collins v. Kelley, 179 A. 65 (Me. 1935).
Third Party: No court decisions regarding recovery allowed for diminution in value of a damaged vehicle in a third-party claim.
One-Party Consent: Maine law bars the interception, recording and or disclosure of any oral or telephonic communication by the means of an electronic recording device without the consent of at least one party or if they are a party to said communication. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 710.
Maine allows for restitution to victims, who may recover against a liable criminal defendant per the statute. 17 M.R.S.A.§ 1321. Maine case law also expressly provides that an insurer qualifies as a victim. State v. Miller, 669 A.2d 164, 164 n.2 (Me. 1995).
Health and Disability Insurance
Statute of Limitations: 6 Years (Unless Exception Applies). 14 M.R.S.A. § 752. Wrongful Death: 2 Years. 18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-804(b). Medical Malpractice: 3 Years. 24 M.R.S.A. § 2902.
Subrogation of Medical and Disability Benefits are allowed. 24-A M.R.S.A. §§ 2729-A & 2836; Maine Mun. Employees Health Trust v. Maloney, 2004 ME 51, 846 A.2d 336 (Me. 2004). Made-Whole does not apply. Common Fund applies. 24-A M.R.S.A. §§ 2729-A; 2836 (Disallows a first priority lien but provides for “equitable reduction”); York Ins. Group of Maine v. Van Hall, 704 A.2d 366 (Me. 1997).
Funeral Procession Traffic Laws
There are no state laws governing funeral processions.
Statute of Limitations: 6 Years. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 39-A § 107.
Can Carrier Sue Third Party Directly: Yes, after 30-day demand.
Intervene: Employer Policy: Yes. Employee Policy: ?
Recovery from UM/UIM Benefits: Yes.
Subrogation Against Medical Malpractice: Yes?
Subrogation Against Legal Malpractice: Undecided.
Recovery Allocation/Equitable Limitations: The carrier gets first money, less fees and costs.
Employer Contribution/Negligence: No.
Attorney’s Fees/Costs: Pro-rata, if the plaintiff files suit.
Future Credit: Yes.
Auto No-Fault: No.
Dog Bite Laws
Dog owner will be liable for damages which occurred when victim was not on the owner’s/keeper’s premises. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3961.
Employee Leasing Laws
Maine has a special statute dealing with employee leasing companies, located in Title 32, Chapter 125: Employee Leasing Companies. Provided that the employee leasing company or the client company secures workers’ compensation coverage, both entities are considered employers and immune from third-party suits under the Exclusive Remedy Rule. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 32 § 14055(1).
Condominium Waiver of Subrogation Laws
Associations must maintain property and liability insurance for the common elements. Additionally, it is required that the insurer waive its right to subrogation under the policy against any unity owner of the condo or members of their household. 33 M.R.S.A. § 1603-113.
Automobile Total Loss Thresholds
Total Loss Formula (See here for definition).
Vehicle is “salvage” when insurer declares it a total loss or salvage title is issued. Owner transfers vehicle to insurer due to damage or owner determines it has no marketable value. 29-A M.R.S. § 602(19).
Sudden Medical Emergencies While Driving
Sudden Emergency Doctrine. One must act as an ordinarily prudent man might under the same or similar circumstances. However, no cases using the sudden emergency defense for a medical emergency. Smith v. Joe’s Sanitary Mkt., 169 A. 900 (Me. 1933).
No cases using the sudden emergency defense for a medical emergency.
State Sovereign Immunity And Tort Liability
Tort Claims Act: Maine Tort Claims Act. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, §§ 8101 – 8118 (1977). Except as otherwise provided in the statutes, all governmental entities are immune from suit on any and all tort claims seeking recovery of damages. If immunity is removed by the Tort Claims Act, a claim for damages must be brought subject to the limitations contained in the Act. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8103.
Notice Deadlines: Every claim against a governmental entity or its employees is forever barred unless an action therein is begun within two years after the cause of action accrues. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8110. Written notice shall be filed within 180 days after any claim or cause. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8107.
Claims/Actions Allowed: A governmental entity is liable for its negligent acts or omissions in its ownership, maintenance or operation of:
(1) motor vehicle;
(2) unimproved land; and
(3) land, buildings, structures, facilities or equipment designed for use primarily by the public.
See M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8104-A.
Comments/Exceptions: Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, all governmental entities shall be immune from suit on any and all tort claims. Me. Rev. Stat. Tit. 14, § 8103.
A governmental entity is not liable for any claim which results from:
(1) legislative acts;
(2) judicial acts;
(3) discretionary acts (except if the act involves operating a motor vehicle).
See M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8104-B for more exceptions.
Damage Caps: $400,000 per single occurrence. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8105. Except as otherwise provided, personal liability of an employee is limited to $10,000 for any such claims arising out of a single occurrence. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8104-D. No judgment against governmental entity shall include punitive damages. M.R.S.A., Tit. 14, § 8105.
Recovery of Sales Tax After Vehicle Total Loss
First-Party Claims: “All contracts of motor vehicle casualty insurance … shall provide coverage for the value of the sales tax credit that would have been available upon trade thereof at the highest book value at the time of loss or destruction of the insured vehicle.” 24-A M.R.S.A. § 2907.
Third-Party Claims: No applicable statute, case law, or regulation governing recovery of sales tax.
Damage to Property Without Market Value
Service Value: Trees have intrinsic, estimable value other than their presence. Owner may treat them as personal property and sue for their value as if they were detached from real property. Nyzio v. Vaillancourt, 382 A.2d 856 (Me. 1978).
Intrinsic Value: No Case Law
Sentimental Value: If the property has personal value to the plaintiff, then damages up to and including restoration costs are appropriate. Leavitt v. Cont’l Tel. Co. of Maine, 559 A.2d 786 (Me. 1989).
Municipal/County/Local Governmental Immunity and Tort Liability
Maine Tort Claims Act: M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, §§ 8101 – 8118 (1977). Except as otherwise provided in the statutes, all governmental entities are immune from suit on any and all tort claims seeking recovery of damages. If immunity is removed by the Tort Claims Act, a claim for damages must be brought subject to the limitations contained in the Act. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8103. “Governmental entity” political subdivisions. “Political subdivision” includes any city, town, or county. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8102(2)(3).
Notice Deadlines: Every claim against a governmental entity or its employees is forever barred unless an action therein is begun within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8110. Written notice shall be filed within 180 days after any claim or cause. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8107.
Claims/Actions Allowed: There are four exceptions to governmental immunity. A governmental entity is liable for its negligent acts or omissions with regard to: (1) ownership, maintenance or use of motor vehicle, aircraft, or similar equipment; (2) construction, cleaning or repair of any highway, sidewalk, parking area, bridge, including street signs, traffic lights, guardrails; (3) discharge of pollutants; and (4) Public buildings/land: construction, maintenance, ownership or use of unimproved land, historic sites, or land, buildings, structures or facilities designed for use by public in connection with outdoor recreation. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8104-A.
Comments/Exceptions: A governmental entity is not liable for any claim which results from: (1) legislative acts; (2) judicial acts; and (3) discretionary acts (except if the act involves operating a motor vehicle). See M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8104-B for more exceptions. Four-part test for discretionary act: (1) Does it involve policy? (2) Is it essential to the realization that policy? (3) Does act require basic policy evaluation, judgment, and expertise? (4) Does municipality possess the lawful authority and duty to do or make the decision? Darling v. Augusta Mental Health Inst., 535 A.2d 421 (Me. 1987). Governmental entity not liable for any defect, lack of repair or lack of sufficient railing in any highway, town way, sidewalk, parking area, etc. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8104-A(4).
Damage Caps: $400,000 per single occurrence. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8105. Except as otherwise provided, personal liability of a governmental employee shall be subject to a limit of $10,000 for any such claims arising out of a single occurrence. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8104-D. No judgment against governmental entity shall include punitive damages. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8105. If governmental entity immune but covered by insurance, it is liable (immunity waived) up to the limits of the insurance coverage. M.R.S.A. Tit. 14, § 8116.
Laws Regarding using Cell Phones/Headphones/Texting While Driving
Cell Phone/Texting: Drivers who hold an instruction permit or are under 18 may not operate a vehicle and a cell phone. 29-A M.R.S.A. § 1311
No person may operate a motor vehicle while engaging in text messaging. 29-A M.R.S.A. § 2119
Other Prohibitions: No Applicable Laws.
Workers’ Compensation Claims by Undocumented Employees
Statute: The statute is silent on “illegal” or “legal” aliens, but it states broadly “every person” under any contract of hire. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 39-A, § 102-11(B).
Case Law: Undecided
Comments/Explanation/Other: *Allows for reduction in benefits because of an inability of an illegal alien to accept modified employment equates to refusal of the offer. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39-A, § 218-8.
Admissibility of Expert Testimony
Admissibility Standards: Other
Case/Statutory Law: State v. Williams, 388 A.2d 500 (Me. 1978); Searles v. Fleetwood Homes of Pennsylvania, Inc., 878 A.2d 509 (Me. 2005).
Comments: Maine uses a test substantially similar to Daubert resulting in a fairly liberal standard for the admission of expert testimony: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a face in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.
Imputing Contributory Negligence of Driver to Vehicle Owner
Imputed Contributory Negligence Law: Contributory negligence of driver is not imputed to owner seeking to recover from tortfeasor for property damage to vehicle. Tibbits v. Harbach, 198 A. 610 (Me. 1938). However, the opposite is true if the driver was operating the vehicle as the agent of the owner. Robinson v. Warren, 177 A. 237 (Me. 1935).
Vicarious Liability/Family Purpose Doctrine: Maine has three statutes which impose joint and several liability for entrustment of vehicles as follows (1) permissive user is a minor, Tit. 29, § 1651; (2) person in business of renting vehicles jointly and severally liable with driver, Tit. 29, § 1652; and (3) owner allows impaired person to drive (codifies common law negligent entrustment) Tit. 29, § 1653.
Maine does not recognize the Family Purpose Doctrine. Pelletier v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 485 A.2d 1002 (Me. 1985).
Sponsor Liability for Minor’s Driving: 29-A M.R.S.A. § 1651: An owner who knowingly permits a minor to operate that owner’s vehicle on a public way is jointly and severally liable with that minor for damages caused by the negligence of the minor in operating that vehicle.
14 M.R.S.A § 304: Parents are liable for willful/malicious damage to person or property.
Product Liability Law
Statute of Limitations/Repose: 6 years for personal injury. 14 M.R.S.A. § 752. Wrongful death is 2 years. 18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-804(b).
Liability Standards: Negligence, Strict Liability, Warranty, Other.
Fault Allocations: Modified Comparative. 14 M.R.S.A. § 156.
Non-Economic Caps/Limits On Actual Damages: Yes.
Punitive Y/N and Limits: Yes.
Heeding Presumption?: No.
Innocent Seller Statute: No.
Joint and Several Liability: Yes. 14 M.R.S.A. § 156-A.
Available Defenses: Assumption of Risk; Misuse; Alteration; Learned Intermediary; State of the Art; Government Contractor Defense; Sophisticated User.
Restatement 2nd or 3rd?: Restatement 3rd
Owner Liability For Stolen Vehicles
Key In The Ignition Statutes: N/A
Common Law Rule: A vehicle owner will not be held liable when a vehicle is stolen by a thief and causes injury to a third party unless the negligent act of a third person should have been foreseen. Maine Courts have held that the proximate cause of the injury to a third party was the willful and illegal act of the thief or thieves, over whom the vehicle owner had no control, and for whose act he was not responsible. Curtis v. Jacobson, 54 A.2d 520 (1947).
An insurance company cannot subrogate against its own insured. Willis Realty Assoc. v. Cimino Constr. Co., 623 A.2d 1287 (Me. 1993). If a party is covered by the liability portion of a policy, but not the property damage portion, subrogation can proceed against the party for damages related to the property damage portion. Philadelphia Indem. Ins. Co. v. Farrington, 37 A.3d 305 (Me. 2012) (court ruled subrogation against renter of rental car could proceed after the court determined the renter was an insured under the liability portion of the policy, but not the property damage portion).
Use of Non-Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Aftermarket Crash Parts in Repair of Damaged Vehicles
Summary: Insurers are not required to use OEM parts on used vehicles. The insured has the final choice as to which parts will be used to fix their vehicle, but the insurer is not obligated to pay for the more expensive OEM parts; the insured must pay the difference. In addition, replacing old parts with new is considered “betterment” by the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, as the insured is put in a better position after the repair than they were to begin with, and companies can deduct for this. As an example, consider a vehicle with 75,000 miles that is involved in an accident. Because of the accident damage, the transmission must be replaced. Assuming the standard life of a transmission is 150,000, replacing the damaged transmission with a new one is a betterment of 50%, thus an insurer may only pay for 50% of the cost of the new transmission.