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What you need to know about comparative fault in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Your car accident can completely change your life. You might be left with physical injuries that are permanently debilitating, and you could be left with permanent disfigurement. Reliving the accident can result in emotional trauma that’s difficult to overcome, and finding a way to cope with your injuries can be overwhelming.

As if that’s not enough, you’ll also have to find a way to contend with the financial realities of your situation. Medical expenses can quickly eat away at your savings, and your inability to work deprives you of the income that you need to pay your bills and keep a roof over your head.

Although all of that can be scary, you can protect yourself by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. However, regardless of how clean-cut your case may seem, before you’ll be awarded compensation, you’ll have to effectively fight back against aggressive defense arguments. Among them is comparative negligence.

What is comparative negligence?

When a personal injury lawsuit is heard in court, the judge or jury will be tasked with determining who is at fault for the accident. But they don’t have to assign all of the fault to one party. Instead, they can allocate portions of fault to those they deem to have contributed to the accident. If you, as a plaintiff, are found to have played a role in the wreck, then you will be found to have been comparatively negligent.

Why does comparative fault matter?

If you win your lawsuit, then the amount of compensation that’s awarded to you will be reduced by the amount of fault that’s been assigned to you. For example, if you win your case and are awarded $100,000, but you’re found to be 40% at fault, then you’re only going to walk away with $60,000.

Therefore, the determination of your comparative fault can have a tremendous impact on your ability to obtain financial stability and much-needed care. That’s why as you prepare to litigate your case, you need to be ready to defend against accusations of comparative negligence.

How do you protect yourself?

There are a lot of steps that you can take to protect yourself as much as possible from allegations of comparative negligence. This includes:

  • Having a command of the facts so that you know what the defense will argue
  • Turning to witness testimony and physical evidence to find ways to contradict claims made by the defense
  • Being honest about mistakes that you made so that you can find a way to try to minimize them
  • Utilizing expert witnesses to specify how your actions didn’t contribute to the wreck or to minimize your actions’ contribution to the crash

As you prepare your case, then, you’ll want to be as thorough as possible so that you’re not taken by surprise in court. And even if you did make a mistake in the moments leading up to your accident, there might be ways to minimize that evidence and maximize your recovery. So, don’t get worried, get prepared.

Are you ready to fight for what you deserve?

Even though a lot of car accident cases end up settling, there’s still a possibility that you might have to address comparative fault claims either at the negotiation table or in court. To utilize the best strategy in your case, you need to know the law, how it applies to the facts of your case, and how to use it to your advantage.

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