Even if you can prove that one party was negligent in a Massachusetts personal injury case, it is not the end of the story. The defendant may try to point a finger at you and argue that you were the cause of your own injuries. This invokes the principle of modified comparative negligence.
You cannot be paid if you were to blame
The law will not allow you to recover damages if you caused your own accident. The issue is that there are very few accidents in which one party bears none of the blame. For example, a person could hurt when struck by a speeding driver but was not wearing a seat belt. The theory is that it would be unfair to force someone to pay when the other party was the cause of his or her accident.
Courts will look at percentages of blame
Massachusetts law allows people who are somewhat at fault to recover. The court will look at who did what in the lead-up to the accident and will assign fault percentages. For example, one party may be 70% at fault, and the other bears 30% of the blame. The rule of thumb is that one may not recover damages for his or her injuries if his or her percentage of fault is more than the other parties’ combined. For example, if there were two parties, and one person was 51% responsible, the person who bears more than half the blame receives nothing. Even if one can recover, his or her payment is reduced by the percentage of the blame that he or she bears.
If you have sustained injuries in an accident, a lawyer who handles personal injury cases can inform you more about your legal rights. An attorney may investigate the accident and help you file a claim with the insurance company. If he or she cannot reach a settlement agreement, he or she could file a lawsuit on your behalf.