Car accidents can be traumatic events, often leading to physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial hardship. Trying to navigate through the intricate landscape of liability and fault in auto accident claims can magnify these challenges. One such complex area of law in Massachusetts is the principle of comparative fault.
What is Comparative Fault? Comparative fault, also referred to as comparative negligence, is a legal principle applied in personal injury cases, including car accidents, to ascertain each party’s responsibility for the accident and their degree of blame. Under this rule, the fault may be shared, and the degree of fault for each party is a percentage of the whole.
How does Comparative Fault work in Massachusetts? Massachusetts employs a version of this principle known as “modified comparative fault,” which means that damages can be recovered in a car accident case as long as the plaintiff’s percentage of fault is not more than 50%. If it exceeds 50%, then the plaintiff loses the right to recover any damages.
The percentage of fault attributed also influences the amount of compensation recovered. The court reduces the compensation amount by the degree of fault. For example, if the plaintiff’s degree of fault is 20% and the damages amount to $100,000, then the 20% reduction means the plaintiff receives $80,000 instead of the full amount.
Why is Comparative Fault Important in a Car Accident Case? The principle of comparative fault holds substantial importance in a car accident case because it directly impacts compensation. Insurers often attempt to establish that the claimant was partially or wholly at fault in an effort to decrease claim amounts. If they succeed in demonstrating that the fault was over 50%, then they do not have to pay any damages.
How is Fault Determined? Determining fault can often be the most contested part of a car accident case. Factors influencing the apportionment of fault can include the police report, witness statements, accident scene photos, surveillance footage, and expert testimonies. Based on this evidence, the court scrutinizes the role each party played in causing the accident and assigns a percentage of fault.
Role of a Personal Injury Attorney: An experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney can be vital in these proceedings. They can assist in gathering necessary evidence, collaborating with accident reconstruction experts, and advocating on behalf of the client to ensure that their degree of fault is minimized.
Insurance companies often have their legal teams, making it challenging for someone unfamiliar with the law to deal with them. Having a seasoned attorney provides equal footing and ensures that the rights of the individual are protected.
Furthermore, a personal injury attorney can also assist in filing the claim within the statute of limitations (which is generally three years from the date of the accident in Massachusetts) and ensuring that all necessary legal formalities are meticulously completed.
The world of comparative fault in Massachusetts car accident cases can be complex to navigate. However, understanding this principle can significantly impact the outcome of a claim. Engaging a competent and seasoned personal injury attorney can make a significant difference in a case.
Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys
Remember, every car accident case is unique, and the principles discussed above are general guidelines. For advice tailored to specific circumstances, you should consult with a personal injury attorney directly. They can provide the necessary guidance and fight for the deserved compensation in a Massachusetts car accident case.
Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a personal injury attorney for advice related to specific circumstances.