In addition to the potential effects on your health, getting involved in a car or motorcycle accident can be a heavy burden on your finances. Medical treatment for any injuries sustained in the accident can be expensive, and it can be even more costly and lengthy if the injuries are severe. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts permits you to file a claim against the other driver and receive compensation if they caused the accident. However, this matter may be more complicated than just that, and you may receive less compensation or none at all as a result. Here is what you need to know about modified comparative negligence laws in Massachusetts.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Many people believe that vehicular accident cases are simple and straightforward: one person must have been at fault, and that person and their insurance company should provide compensation to the victim. This may be true for some cases, but there are other instances where the defendant’s legal team presents evidence that seems to indicate the plaintiff may be at least partly at fault. This provides a challenge for the matter of how much compensation the victim deserves – and if they even deserve any at all.
Modified comparative negligence, codified in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231 Section 85, is an attempt at fairly addressing this question. According to this law, the amount of responsibility that each party, plaintiff, and defendant, bears for the cause of the accident will be represented numerically for the sake of comparison. The text reads, “The combined total of the plaintiff’s negligence taken together with all of the negligence of all defendants shall equal one hundred percent.” If the plaintiff is found to have done something that may have contributed to the accident, then they may be said to have some percentage of the responsibility – for example, 5% for a small infraction, or 25% for something more significant.
How Does This Affect Compensation?
The catch here is that if the plaintiff is determined to bear any percentage of the fault for the accident, then that percentage will be deducted from the total amount of damages they could be awarded. If the insurance companies involved in the suit determine that the damages are worth $10,000 and the courts rule that the plaintiff is 5% responsible, they are only entitled to receive $9,500. If the plaintiff is found to be 25% responsible, this is further lowered to $7,500.
There are a variety of ways that a plaintiff can be found partly responsible. Reasons can range from running a red light to changing lanes without signaling to driving under the influence. We should note that the text of Chapter 231 Section 85 clarifies that if the accident partly resulted from the victim breaking the law, this alone will not automatically take away any chance for them to receive payment. However, this may certainly be used against them as well.
This may sound harsh enough as is, but plaintiffs stand to lose any chance of receiving compensation. Under Massachusetts law, people can still receive compensation if they are found to be as much as 50% at fault for the crash in which they were involved. However, if they are found to be at least 51% at fault – making them more responsible for the accident than the defendant – then they lose any right to claim compensation from said defendant.
Contact Car and Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Modified comparative negligence can make the difference between receiving full compensation for injuries sustained in a collision and receiving nothing at all. A sharp and experienced legal team can assist you in fighting claims that you were partly responsible, and the motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group, PC are sharp, experienced, and ready to defend you. Contact us today at (339) 298-2300 for further information.