Comparative Negligence in Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawsuits

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.

Massachusetts does not recognize comparative negligence in products liability lawsuits based on warranty breaches. Further, it does not apply to specific loss of consortium claims. However, comparative negligence frequently arises in car accident lawsuits, slip and fall cases, and even medical malpractice claims. For instance, in a car accident lawsuit, the defendant may claim that the plaintiff suddenly and unsafely stopped, and that is why the defendant rear-ended them. In a slip and fall case, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was looking at their phone and not paying attention to an obvious danger when they tripped. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the healthcare professional may allege that the plaintiff did not fully disclose certain medical conditions that affected their treatment. Each case requires a different analysis, and it is essential to have a well-versed attorney that can assist injury victims in understanding how their actions may impact their award.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Massachusetts Accident?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of another’s negligence in Massachusetts, you should contact the experienced accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates, P.C. Attorney Feinstein has over 25 years of experience handling all types of personal injury lawsuits, including Massachusetts car accidents and slip and fall cases. He is dedicated to ensuring that injury victims receive the compassionate and effective representation that they deserve. Mr. Feinstein understands the challenges that personal injury lawsuits can present, and has the skills and knowledge to advocate on behalf of his clients. His clients have won significant damages for their injuries, including payments for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the personal injury law firm at 800-262-9200 to schedule your free initial consultation.