Comparative Negligence

The real world is a complicated place and often individuals who are injured became injured through some fault of their own. In other words, they were not careful enough to avoid injury. In more legal terms, they were “negligent,” negligence being defined as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

To factor negligence into a court decision, there is something called “comparative negligence law” which enables plaintiffs to recover compensation for their injuries in an amount that takes into account their share of the responsibility for the injury. So, for example, if you were injured in an accident with a $500,000 settlement, but you were 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can recover only $250,000.

In Massachusetts, an injured party is barred from recovery if his or her negligence exceeds the total amount of negligence attributable to the responsible party or parties. In other words, if the injured party’s negligence is 51% and the responsible party’s negligence is 49%, the injured party cannot collect a recovery. In determining by what amount the plaintiff’s damages shall be reduced, the negligence of each plaintiff shall be compared to the total negligence of all other persons against whom recovery is sought. The combined negligence of all parties shall equal 100%.

While reducing the plaintiff’s settlement might sound a little harsh, Massachusetts is actually considered a fairly friendly state for personal injury plaintiffs. Some states will not allow ANY recovery for a plaintiff if he or she has any responsibility at all for their injuries, no matter how small the percentage. However, in Massachusetts the plaintiff is generally given the benefit of the doubt and assumed to have been prudent in their actions – the burden is upon the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was acting negligently.

If you or someone you love has been injured, it’s vital to hire an attorney with expertise and experience in comparative negligence law, such as the Law Office of James G. Haddad. Call or email us to learn more about how we can help you recover the settlement you deserve.