Laws pertaining to medical malpractice within the state of Maine are usually based on the doctrine of comparative negligence, and provisions allowing binding arbitration are present within the state. Below is a list of general provisions involving tort law and medical malpractice suits within Maine.
The information is discussed in detail below, but general information is not a substitute for an experienced medical malpractice attorney’s advice in order to make the most of one’s specific case in a court of law.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the first factor that should be kept in mind. Within the state of Maine, patients have a window of three years within which they must bring their cases to court if the cases involve alleged malpractice. A discovery provision does not exist for patients.
However, where foreign objects are concerned, the timing begins at the time when an injury is discovered or at the time when one could have reasonably been discovered. If minors are involved, cases must be brought to court within a 6-year window of when the alleged malpractice occurred. If the minor reaches adulthood, the window contracts to 3 years.
The second factor to review is comparative negligence. The state observes a modified form of the doctrine of comparative negligence. In other words, the actions of a claimant cannot be considered if they are discovered to have been equally at fault. A jury is not required by the state in order for the damages to be reduced; instead, the damages simply need to be reduced to an amount that is both “just” and “equitable”.
Proportions between the fault and the damage do not have to exist, and it is possible for a jury to cut the damages significantly without stating that there should not have been a suit filed to begin with.
Joint and Several Liability
In Maine, it is possible for tortfeasors to be held liable for the full sum of a judgment even if they are not found to be completely at fault. At the same time, it is possible for a defendant to request that a jury looks closely to figure out the percentage of fault; however, the ruling by the jury may not be made binding.
The fourth factor to keep in mind in the state of Maine is that of expert testimony. The state does not require a claimant to have the affidavit of an expert in the complaint, but it is necessary to have expert testimony if a prima facie negligence case is to be established within a court of law.
The fifth factor to review is that of damage caps. In Maine, they do not exist. However, when wrongful death damages are considered in non economic circumstances, these cannot exceed $150,000. Similarly, punitive damages cannot exceed $75,000.
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