Under Massachusetts law, “Contributory Negligence” states that if the injured party is found to be more negligent than the responsible party, the injured cannot recover compensation. Plaintiffs can recover compensation if they are under 51% responsible for the incident. However, if it is found that the Plaintiff was negligent, they cannot be awarded damages.
In a recent case out of Middlesex Superior Court, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle while on a crosswalk. She incurred serious bodily injuries as result of the accident, and brought a claim against the driver. The jury; however, ruled in favor of the Defendant. According to the defendant, and an eyewitness, the Plaintiff was in dark clothing at night and did not stop before crossing the road. The defendant claimed he did not see the Plaintiff before hitting her. The Jury found that the Plaintiff was 67% negligent. As a result, she obtained no award for damages.
It is sometimes unclear of which party is at fault in an accident, considering the multitude of factors at play. This case highlights the importance of attaining evidence to corroborate one’s account of an incident. If you are in an accident, try to personally obtain pictures of the scene, and the contact information of any witnesses. Do not rely solely on the police report to account this information. This evidence can help to determine who was more at fault in an incident, and ultimately decide the outcome of your case.