In our previous post, we began discussing the issue of distracted pedestrians. Here we want to briefly discuss the potential liability, or rather reduction in the ability to collect damages, pedestrians may face when they are found to be at least partially at fault for their own injuries in personal injury litigation.

Under Massachusetts’ comparative negligence law, juries have the ability to assign a proportionate degree of fault to each party involved in a personal injury lawsuit. Pedestrians who are partially at fault for their injuries are still able to recover damages if they are at fault, but their damages award will be reduced by their own degree of fault. 

In addition, a pedestrian who is deemed to be 51 percent or more at fault for his or her own injuries is unable to recover any damages in Massachusetts. This is sometimes called the 51 percent bar rule, and a number of other states follow the same rule. This approach contrasts with the approach used in other states which permits partial recovery, regardless of how at fault the pedestrian was, as well as states which use a 50 percent bar rule.

What this means for injured pedestrians is that it is possible for defendants to reduce their own liability in some circumstances. This is why it is important for pedestrians to work with an experienced attorney to help ensure their recovery is fair. And while even an experienced attorney cannot guarantee a particular result in a personal injury case, a committed attorney can always guarantee zealous advocacy. Along with providing experience and expertise, the attorneys at our firm are committed to doing just that.

Source: Claims Journal, “Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability,” Gary Wickert, Sep. 5, 2014.