Laws & Rules: Liability
Title 12 MRSA, §10001
“Guide” means a person who receives any form of remuneration for that person’s services in accompanying or assisting a person in the fields or forests or on waters or ice within the jurisdiction of the State while hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, using an all-terrain vehicle or camping at a primitive camping area.
Title 14 MRSA, §159-A – Limited liability for recreational of harvesting activities
A. “Premises” shall mean improved and unimproved lands, private ways, roads, any buildings or structures on those lands and waters standing on, flowing through or adjacent to those lands. “Premises” includes railroad property, railroad rights-of-way and utility corridors to which public access is permitted.
B. “Recreational or harvesting activities” means recreational activities conducted out-of-doors, including hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, environmental education and research, hiking, recreational caving, sight-seeing, operating snow traveling and all-terrain vehicles, skiing, hang-gliding, noncommercial aviation activities, dog sledding, equine activities, boating, sailing, canoeing, rafting, biking, picnicking, swimming or activities that involve harvesting or gathering forest, field or marine products. It includes entry of, volunteer maintenance and improvement of, use of and passage over premises in order to pursue these activities. “Recreational or harvesting activities” does not include commercial agricultural or timber harvesting.
C. “Occupant” includes, but is not limited to, an individual, corporation, partnership, association or other legal entity that constructs or maintains trails or other improvements for public recreational use.
2. Limited Duty. An owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant of premises does not have a duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational or harvesting activities or to give warning of any hazardous condition, use, structure or activity on these premises to persons entering for those purposes. This subsection applies regardless of whether the owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant has given permission to another to pursue recreational or harvesting activities on the premises.
3. Permissive Use. An owner, lessee manager, holder of an easement or occupant who gives permission to another to pursue recreational or harvesting activities on the premises shall not thereby:
A. Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for those purposes;
B. Make the person to whom permission is granted an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or
C. Assume responsibility or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of persons to whom the permission is granted even if that injury occurs on property of another person.
4. Limitations on section. This section shall not limit the liability which would otherwise exist:
A. For a willful or malicious failure to guard or to warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity;
B. For an injury suffered in any case where permission to pursue any recreational or harvesting activities was granted for a consideration other than the consideration, if any, paid to the following:
(1) The landowner or the landowner’s agent by the State; or
(2) The landowner or the landowner’s agent for use of the premises on which the injury was suffered, as long as the premises are not used primarily for commercial recreational purposes and as long as the user has not been granted the exclusive right to make use of the premises for recreational activities; or
C. For an injury caused, by acts of persons to whom permission to pursue any recreational or harvesting activities was granted, to other persons to whom the person granting permission, or the owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant of the premises, owed a duty to keep the premises safe or to warn of danger.
5. No duty created. Nothing in this section creates a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to a person or property.
6. Costs and fees. The court shall award any direct legal costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to an owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant who is found not to be liable for injury to a person or property pursuant to this section.
Title 14 MRSA, §7551-B – Trespass damages
Any person who intentionally enters the land of another without permission and causes damage to property is liable to the owner in a civil action if the person: damages or throws down any fence, bar or gate; leaves a gate open; breaks glass; damages any road, drainage ditch, culvert, bridge, sign or paint marking; or does other damage to any structure on property not that person’s own or throws, drops, deposits, discards, dumps or otherwise disposes of litter, as defined in Title 17, section 2263, subsection 2, in any manner or amount, on property that is not that person’s own.
If the damage is intentional the person doing the damage is liable to the owner for 2 times the actual damage plus additional costs which includes the attorney fees of the landowner, costs and the value of the owner’s time spent on involvement in an enforcement proceeding; if the damage is not caused intentionally, the person is liable to the owner for the actual damages plus the costs described above.
For damage to property under this section the owner’s damages may be measured either by the replacement value of the damaged property or by the cost of repairing the damaged property. For damages for disposing of litter, the owner’s damages include the direct costs associated with properly disposing of the litter, including obtaining permits, and the costs associated with any site remediation work undertaken as a result of the litter.
Title 14 MRSA, §7552 – Injury to land, forest products or agricultural products
Without permission of the owner, a person may not cut down, damage, destroy or carry away any forest product, ornamental or fruit tree, agricultural products, stones, gravel, ore, goods or property of any kind from land not that persons own.
Title 17 MRSA, §2510 – Unlawful cutting of trees
It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently cut down or fell any tree without the consent of the owner of the property on which the tree stands. Department of Transportation, Public Utilities and municipal employees are exempt when working official capacity.
Title 17-A MRSA, §402 – Criminal trespass
Property is posted if it is marked with signs or paint in one of the following ways and in a manner that is reasonably likely to come to the attention of an intruder:
• Signs must indicate that access is prohibited, that access is prohibited without permission of the landowner or landowner’s agent, or that access for a particular activity is prohibited.
• One vertical “OSHA Safety Purple” stripe at least one inch in width and at least 8 inches in length means “Access by Permission Only” when it is placed on trees, posts or stones between three and five feet off the ground.
These signs or paint stripes must mark the property at distances no more than 100 feet apart at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property, and at all vehicular access entries from a public road.
• In addition, landowners may also, either verbally or in writing, personally communicate to others that access is prohibited.
Remember, it is unlawful to remove, mutilate, deface or destroy a sign or paint mark that is placed in order to prohibit or restrict access; and it is unlawful to post the land of another without permission of the landowner.
The owner of a recreational vehicle, the person who gives or furnishes that recreational vehicle to a person under 18 years of age and the parent or guardian responsible for the care of that minor are jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages caused in the operation of the recreational vehicle by that minor.
These portions of the revised statutes are summarized. For full text refer to the Maine Revised Statutes.