Determining liability, or legal fault, for an accident is central to a personal injury claim for damages. Accident victims can hold careless drivers accountable for their actions, but as plaintiffs in a personal injury claim, they carry the legal burden of proving fault. Many Boston car accident cases are based on a negligence theory of law, which asserts that a driver breached their duty of care to operate their vehicle safely, and this breach directly caused the accident and resulting harm.
To be at fault in a car accident, according to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance and the Code of Municipal Regulations (CMR), a driver must be at least 51 percent responsible for causing an accident. This requirement is based upon Massachusetts’ comparative negligence doctrine. When a victim plaintiff is determined to be at fault for an accident, this fault must not be 51 percent or more, or they will not recover damages. Provided that the plaintiff is less than 51 percent at fault, they will be able to recover damages, reduced by the amount of their fault.
The CMR includes standards of fault that are determinative or that tend to prove that a driver is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. Rear end collisions are included in this section, as are accidents that result when an operator fails to signal before turning or changing lanes, causing an accident. Backover accidents, when the driver has been in the process of reversing their vehicle and collides with another vehicle, is a circumstance that indicates the driver is more than 50 percent at fault.
Common law typically held that plaintiff victims who caused an accident in any way would not recover damages at trial. Now, according to comparative fault rules, plaintiffs can still recover. For example, a plaintiff who is found to be 10 percent at fault for causing an accident would find that his damages are reduced by this amount. If the plaintiff would have received $100,000 at trial, they would receive $90,000 instead.
While some car accident cases require trials before a judge or jury, others settle beforehand. Insurance companies represent their insured and often make low initial offers to settle cases. An experienced Boston car accident attorney can help represent you in dealings with an insurance company working for the defendant in a personal injury claim. It is important to understand that their intentions do not necessarily include providing full compensation for victims’ injuries.
Plaintiffs injured in an accident have the right to full compensation, which includes recovering damages that place them in the physical and mental position in which they would be had the accident not occurred. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we help accident victims pursue legal claims for compensation after a crash. Through investigation, careful documentation, and strong advocacy, we have successfully helped injured individuals and families throughout Boston and surrounding areas. To learn more about your legal rights and set up a free consultation with a dedicated car accident lawyer, call our office at (617) 263-0060 or reach us online.
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Massachusetts Appeal Court Affirms Verdict Awarding Pedestrian Damages in Lawsuit Against Driver Who Struck and Injured Her in Cambridge Crosswalk, Boston Car Accident Attorney News, February 3, 2017
Massachusetts Court Upholds Motion for New Trial Based on Excessive Damages Awarded to Victim of Car Accident When Judge Found Medical Evidence Failed to Support Alleged Harm, Boston Car Accident Attorney News, March 8, 2017