Articles Posted in Personal Injury Legal Theories

When someone is injured in a Massachusetts car accident, they can pursue a personal injury claim against any party they believe to be at fault for their injuries. Most car accident cases are brought under the theory of negligence, and as a result, many car accident claims raise similar issues. Of course, there are many different types of accidents, and claims based on the same kind of accident frequently raise related issues.

Take, for example, Massachusetts pedestrian accidents. These accidents typically involve severe injuries because, in many cases, motorists hit a pedestrian while traveling at a high rate of speed. However, even a low-speed collision can cause significant injuries, especially if the pedestrian strikes their head against the ground or a part of the car. Being able to substantiate the extent of a pedestrian’s injuries is a critical component of a pedestrian accident lawsuit.

Another issue that frequently comes up in Massachusetts pedestrian accident cases is the comparative fault of the pedestrian. Generally, motorists must yield to pedestrians. Thus, when a motorist strikes a pedestrian, the motorist will likely be primarily at fault. However, under Massachusetts law, a defendant can argue that the accident victim’s comparative negligence should reduce the victim’s total recovery amount. In some cases where an accident victim is found to be at least 51 percent at fault, they will be prevented from recovering anything for their injuries. Thus, it is also crucial for pedestrian accident victims to minimize their responsibility to preserve the ability to recover.

Massachusetts tort laws require injury victims to establish negligence if they wish to collect damages against the wrongdoer. Typically, Massachusetts plaintiffs who want to recover damages must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that they breached, and that breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries. However, defendants will often utilize the Massachusetts comparative negligence doctrine to limit their degree of fault and reduce the amount of damages they owe.

Comparative negligence applies when the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff was negligent and contributed to their own injuries. When a Massachusetts defendant meets their burden, a jury will decide what percent of fault each party had in the accident and injuries. For example, after a jury finds that a defendant in a Massachusetts car accident was responsible for the accident, they will then determine the total amount of damages. If they find that the total losses equal to $50,000, they can then assess each party’s level of fault in the accident. In this example, if they find that the plaintiff was 20% responsible, the total award would be reduced by 20%.

It is important to note that Massachusetts follows “modified comparative negligence.” Modified comparative negligence only allows plaintiffs to recover damages if they are less than 51% responsible for their injuries. Unlike other states, where damages are proportionate relative to fault, in Massachusetts, plaintiffs who are more than 51% at fault cannot recover any damages. Modified comparative negligence is an affirmative defense, and as such, the defendant bears the burden of proving the plaintiff’s negligence. In Massachusetts, plaintiffs need to establish that the accident was 100% the defendant’s fault to recover the total amount of compensation for their injuries.