Articles & Blogs

Skating Through Snow and Ice Mishaps - A Primer in Maine’s Premises Liability Law

November 17, 2021
January 27, 2021

In order for a plaintiff to prevail in Maine, a plaintiff must prove, a preponderance of the evidence, that plaintiff slipped on ice and snow because there was an accumulation of snow and/or ice on the premises that was a proximate cause; that the condition had been present for a time of sufficient duration before the plaintiff’s injury to enable a reasonably prudent person to discovery and remedy or warn of it; and that the defendant knew of the snow and/or ice accumulation and failed to correct it in a reasonable time. Budzko v. One City Center Assoc., LP, 767 A.2d 310, 314 (Me, 2001).

Storm in Progress Doctrine

In Maine, “[B]usiness owners have a duty to reasonably respond to foreseeable dangers and keep premises reasonably safe when significant numbers of invitees may be anticipated to enter or leave the premises during a winter storm.” Id. at 315. Therefore, Maine does not follow an ongoing storm doctrine, and even if a storm is ongoing, a landowner may be liable for a slip and fall, if a jury finds it was reasonable to expect the landowner to keep up with the ongoing storm. See Id.

Municipality Snow and Ice Liability

Maine law states that no municipality is liable to a pedestrian for snow or ice on any sidewalk, crosswalk, or slippery condition and that neither the State or a municipality is liable for accidents while a road surface is covered with snow or ice. Dickinson v. Town of Houlton, 669 A.2d 176 (Me, 1995). Under the Maine Tort Claims Act, the State and municipalities have immunity for damages resulting from a fall on an icy sidewalk and that purchase of a general liability policy by a municipality does not waive immunity under the Maine Tort Claims Act. Id.; see 23 M.R.S.A. § 3658.