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.