Finding who’s at fault in personal injury auto accident cases isn’t always so cut and dry. Many factors can be involved in the cause of an accident beyond just the negligence of the party at fault. For example, a driver could be rear-ended by another car, but perhaps the leading vehicle had a tail light out at the time of the accident. This is where “comparative fault” comes in…
What Is Comparative Fault?
Comparative fault refers to the fault of the injured plaintiff in comparison with the fault of the defendant who caused the accident. In personal injury cases where the plaintiff is liable to some degree for the accident, the court may choose to limit or even prohibit a compensatory damages award.
Comparative Fault in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’s version of the comparative fault rule reduces damages if an injured person shares less than 50 percent of the fault, and eliminates damages for an injured person who shares 50 percent or more of the fault.
Under the comparative fault rule in Massachusetts, your $10,000 total damages award will be reduced by 10 percent, or $1,000, since you were assigned 10 percent of the fault. You will be allowed to collect up to $9,000 in damages from the other party. If your fault had been 50 percent or more, however, you would be prohibited from collecting anything at all from any other party.
Massachusetts courts must apply the comparative fault rule when an injury lawsuit makes it to the trial stage and liability findings and jury awards are entered into the record. However, the rule may also come up during insurance settlement negotiations, so be prepared.
Contact An Attorney
To be sure to get the most out of your case, contact one of our experienced attorneys to discuss the details and options.