Sometimes clients tell us they were reluctant to contact an attorney because they feel they were partially responsible for their own injuries. It is natural to second guess oneself after an injury. Maybe they were partially to blame and maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were a little over the speed limit at the time of their car crash. Maybe they could have been a little more careful when walking down an icy stairway. They assume that if they were even partially to blame for their own injuries, then they cannot recover anything, even if the other person is much more at fault than they are.
That used to be the law in Massachusetts, but not today. Up until 1969, if an injured person was at all responsible for causing his or her own injuries, that person could not recover money compensation from anyone whose careless acts primarily caused their injuries. In 1969, the Massachusetts legislature finally recognized the basic unfairness of this rule, and passed a law that greatly expanded the rights of injured persons. Since then a jury or judge will “compare” the negligence of each person involved. An injured person may recover as long as he or she is not found to be more at fault than the other persons who caused the injury. In other words, if the injured person and another person are equally at fault, the injured person can still recover, but their recovery is reduced by their own percentage of fault. So, if a jury decides the injured person was 25% at fault, that person’s recovery is reduced by 25%. If the jury decides that the injured person was 51% or more at fault, he or she recovers nothing.
Juries or Judges Will Apportion 100% Responsibility Between The Parties
It may seem difficult for a jury or judge to make such exact decisions about the amount of fault to assign to different people whose actions combined to cause an injury, and sometimes it is. But in most situations, it really is not. If one person is going slightly over the speed limit at the time of a car crash, but the other person blows through a stop sign because he was texting at the time, it is not difficult for the jury to decide who was more at fault in that case. And most cases settle long before a judge or jury will be called upon to make that decision.
Our Attorneys Are Experienced at Proving Our Clients Were Not At Fault
Even where the injured party appears to be partially at fault, the jury or judge may be convinced the injured person’s was 0% responsible for their injuries and the defendant is 100% responsible. An injured person can still recover if they are even found to be 50% responsible for their injury. In that instance the compensation for their injuries is reduced by 50%.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a situation where the injured person may have been partially at fault, please do not assume that it will be impossible to recover for the injuries. We have over 40 years of experience proving our clients were not responsible or minimally responsible for causing their injuries. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys now for a free evaluation of your case.