If you have been involved in a car accident in Massachusetts, you may be wondering who will end up being financially responsible for the damages caused. In order to determine liability, it is important to understand the difference between contributory negligence and comparative negligence.
Definition of Contributory Negligence
Very few states use the contributory negligence system. Contributory negligence looks at how much each party individually contributed to the accident. That means if your actions in any way contributed to the overall accident, you may be entitled to less compensation or no compensation at all.
Very few states still follow this type of system because it means even if an accident victim was only slightly at fault, they are penalized by the court.
Thankfully, Massachusetts follows the comparative negligence system, which allows accident victims to recover the compensation they need, even when they only marginally contributed to their accident.
Definition of Comparative Negligence
In a comp negligence system, the victim of an accident can still recover some damages even if found partially at fault for the accident. The amount of compensation received may still be reduced or possibly denied based on the specifics of your case, but the comparative negligence system makes it easier for you as a defendant to prove the other party’s negligence in court.
There are 3 types of comparative negligence assigned to cases:
o Pure comparative negligence
o Modified comp negligence – 51% rule
o Modified comp negligence – 50% rule
Comparative Negligence in Massachusetts
Massachusetts follows the modified comparative negligence – 51% system. This means that if the injured party’s negligence was less then 51%, they can recover damages.
So even if your actions contributed to your accident, as long as the other party was responsible for the majority of your accident, they can still be held liable for your damages. If you were responsible for more than half of your accident, no compensation can be received.