Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Application of Comparative Negligence Rule in Car Accident Case

Massachusetts has adopted the modified comparative negligence rule which states that a plaintiff cannot recover compensation from a negligent party if it is concluded that the plaintiff was 50 percent or more at fault for the accident. This is a critical rule to keep in mind during a car accident or other personal injury case because it can impact your right to recovery. As seasoned trial attorneys, the Boston car accident lawyers at Mass Injury Group are ready to help you ensure that you receive a fair outcome in your case. We will assist you with all aspects of your case including gathering evidence and determining the best way to obtain the settlement or judgment that you deserve.

Knowing what types of evidence that other party may be able to offer against you is a key part of developing a strategy for your case. In a recent case, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals considered an appeal of a decision from the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds (the board) to uphold a surcharged imposed by a driver’s insurance company.

The board concluded that the driver did not yield the right of way at a stop sign causing him to collide with another vehicle that did have the right of way to proceed through the intersection.  The board concluded that the driver was more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. The driver appealed the decision to the superior court, which affirmed the board’s conclusion. The driver appealed.

On review, the driver contended that there was no basis of fact to determine that he was at least half at fault for the accident while also arguing that the record included inadmissible hearsay in the form of a police report. Hearsay is a term used to describe information from another person or document that is being offered for the truth of the matter asserted in the statement or document. The police report and an insurance document stated that his vehicle struck another vehicle entering the intersection. The driver argued, however, that he was rear-ended by a vehicle that forced his vehicle to enter the intersection against his will.

The appellate court rejected the driver’s arguments regarding the hearsay noting that the standard rules of evidence do not apply in adjudicatory proceedings before the board. The board is allowed to consider hearsay evidence as long as it has some appearance of adding reliable and probative value to making a decision on the matter. The police report and the insurance document accompanied by testimony from the insurance agent and photographs of the damage supported the superior court’s finding.

If you were injured in a car accident and have questions about whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages, Mass Injury Group is standing by to assist you. We serve clients throughout Massachusetts and offer a free consultation to help you learn about our services and whether we can assist you in recovering compensation. To schedule your free consultation, please call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.