Maine Supreme Court Affirms Jury Verdict Denying Damages to Injured Neighbor

In a recent case, the Maine Supreme Court recently affirmed a jury’s decision not to award damages to a man injured while helping his neighbor cut down a tree. At the trial, the man alleged that his injuries were the direct result of his neighbor’s negligence.

dead-tree-1402668According to the court’s opinion, the defendant asked his neighbor to help him cut down a dying tree on his property. The tree was more than two feet in diameter and had at least one large limb growing from the trunk. The plaintiff used a chainsaw to cut a wedge just below the limb, while the property owner used the bucket of his compact front loader to guide the limb away from his house. As the men continued to cut down the tree, the limb fell and pinned the plaintiff to the ground. He was also knocked unconscious and suffered several other injures.

As a result of his injuries, the man sued the property owner, alleging that he failed to warn him that the limb could break unexpectedly due to the tree’s rotted condition. He also alleged that the property owner was negligent in his operation of the compact loader.

In reaching its decision, the jury relied on the fact that both men had experience cutting down trees, and both men knew of the tree’s rotted condition before they began cutting it down. As a result, the jury concluded, the plaintiff was at least as negligent as the property owner for the limb’s premature fall and his resulting injuries.

Property Owners May Be Liable for Dangerous Conditions On Their Property

Accidents happen all the time. There are accidents, like car or tractor-trailer crashes, that occur so frequently that most people don’t think twice when they hear about one on the news or read about one online.

There are, however, many accidents that occur when people least expect them. An accident may occur in a restaurant during a festive dinner, at a friend’s house while celebrating a birthday, or even while shopping at a department store for family holiday gifts. No matter the circumstance, however, if a person is injured while frequenting a business or visiting a friend, he or she may be entitled to damages for any injuries suffered.

All property owners, whether commercial or residential, have a duty to maintain their property in a safe condition. If a dangerous condition exists on a property, and that condition causes a visitor to be injured, the property owner may be held liable if he or she knew or should have known of the dangerous condition but failed to fix it or warn the visitor of its existence.

Under New Mexico law, a property owner’s failure to maintain his or her property in a safe condition is called negligence. In New Mexico, when a person is injured because of a property owner’s negligence, he or she can sue for damages under a premises liability theory. However, if the plaintiff is partially to blame for his or her own injuries, the amount of the award will be reduced by an amount equal to the percentage of fault that a jury attributes to the plaintiff. This is called pure comparative fault, and it allows even a plaintiff who is 99% at fault to recover for 1% of his or her damages.

Have You Been Injured On Somebody Else’s Property?

Sometimes injuries occur, and someone you know is at fault. In these cases, you may have unpaid medical bills, lost wages, and a reduction in future income, not to mention real pain and suffering. Filing a lawsuit may be the only way for you to obtain compensation for all of your losses. The lawyers at the Fine Law Firm understand how difficult and emotionally trying these cases can be. We pride ourselves on not only serving as your legal counsel but also truly understanding what you and your family are going through by giving you the individual attention you deserve. For a free consultation, call the Fine Law Firm at (505) 243-4541.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Permits Trial Judge Ability to Adjust Verdict When Jury’s Damages Award “Shockingly” Low, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 14, 2015.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Announces New Technology, Soon to Be Required on All Vehicles, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 10, 2015.