American Association for Justice
Greater Lowell

Comparative Fault / Contributory Negligence

Figuring out who was at fault in a car accident is sometimes not as easy as it seems Accidents are complex. There are often many moving parts. When many people and companies are involved in an accident, it’s often the case that more than one person is at fault. If that’s the case, who is responsible?

Assigning Responsibility

The first step in the process is figuring out who was involved. In a multi-car accident, it’s easy to figure out who was involved. But in other types of cases, it can be more difficult. If a car fled from the scene in a hit-and-run, it adds a layer of complication.

The second step is to figure out who was negligent. Was there one car who was at fault, or was there two? Was the person who was injured partially at fault?

Like dividing a pie or pizza, the law requires that all facts be considered to figure out who was at fault, and then assign different levels of responsibility so that it adds up to 100%.

Joint and Several Liability

After determining who was at fault, the next step is to figure out who is responsible for paying the compensation. In Massachusetts, the rule of Joint and Several Liability states that even if you were only 1% at fault, you are still responsible to pay 100% of the compensation.

This law is important when some people who were responsible have enough money to pay compensation, while others do not. So, if person A is 90% at fault and person B is 10% at fault, person B will still be responsible to pay 100% of the compensation if person A does not have any money or insurance.

Comparative Fault / Contributory Negligence

Many people wonder if they can recover even if they were somewhat at fault. For example, if you’re struck on the highway by a truck trying to merge into your lane, that truck is obviously negligent. But, if you were going 5-10 mph over the speed limit, you might be slightly at fault as well.

Whether the driver can recover depends on who was more at fault. If the truck was at least 51% at fault, the driver can be compensated for his/her injuries. However, the compensation will be reduced to the extent the driver was also negligent. If the drver was 10% negligent, the compensation will be reduced by 10%.

Luckily, Massachusetts is not a state that follows the law of Contributory Negligence. This law says that if an injured person was even 1% negligent, he/she cannot get any compensation whatsoever. Even though the at-fault party is 99% negligent, he/she/it would not be responsible for paying any compensation.

You Need an Experienced Attorney

The more people/entities that are involved in an accident, the more important it is to find an experienced attorney who can make sure that you get all the compensation you deserve. Whether it’s making sure that there is enough money to get you the compensation you deserve or proving that you weren’t responsible for what happened, an experienced attorney is able to maximize your recovery. An experienced lawyer will know who to sue, and he/she will know who not to sue.

If you were injured and you think more than one person is responsible, call the experienced lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.

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