What is contributory negligence in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2024 | Experienced Massachusetts And New Hampshire Attorneys

In Massachusetts, understanding the concept of contributory negligence is crucial for anyone involved in a personal injury claim. Contributory negligence is a legal principle that comes into play when determining liability and compensation in cases where multiple parties may be at fault.

Massachusetts operates under a modified version of contributory negligence, significantly impacting how damages are awarded in personal injury cases. Under this system, an injured party can still recover damages if they are partly at fault for the incident that caused their injury. However, some significant limitations and conditions apply, making understanding this principle vital for anyone pursuing a personal injury claim in the state.

Critical aspects of contributory negligence in Massachusetts

The rule in Massachusetts stipulates that an injured party’s contribution to their own injury can’t be more than the combined negligence of the other parties involved. In other words, if you are injured but are found to be 51% or more at fault for your injury, you won’t be able to recover any damages from other at-fault parties. This 51% threshold is crucial and sets Massachusetts apart from states that follow a pure comparative negligence rule, where you can recover damages even if you are more at fault than the other party.

For instance, in a car accident case, if the injured party is found to be 40% at fault due to speeding, and the other driver is 60% at fault due to running a red light, the injured party can still recover damages. However, these damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault – in this case, by 40%.

Importance of evidence and legal representation

Determining the degree of fault in contributory negligence requires a thorough investigation and presentation of evidence. This can include eyewitness accounts, traffic camera footage, police reports and expert testimony. Accurately establishing each party’s degree of fault is essential for a fair claim resolution.

Given the complexities of proving negligence and determining fault percentages, seeking legal assistance is often a good idea. Because there are time limits in these cases, getting things moving forward quickly after an accident is critical.