Accidents can be complicated events, with multiple parties involved and contributing to the cause of the accident. For example, two drivers at an intersection may both act recklessly while driving across. One may be texting while driving, and the other may be speeding to “beat” a yellow light about to turn red. If the texting driver suffers injuries, he or she may pursue civil action against the other driver, but questions will quickly arise as to fault and compensation. The texting driver may wonder whether or not he or she can recover anything from the other driver.
Massachusetts follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. In the scenario described above, if the speeding driver is found to be more than 50% at fault, the texting driver can recover damages from the speeding driver. The texting driver, however, can have his or her award reduced by the amount of fault assigned by a judge or jury. If the texting driver seeks $50,000 worth of damages from the speeding driver, but is found to be 40% at fault, the texting driver would only be able to recover $30,000 under Massachusetts law.
An example of a comparative negligence can be found in the case of Baudanza v. Comcast. In this car accident case, a service truck struck the driver’s side of an automobile while driving through an intersection. The injured driver filed suit against the truck driver and his employer. The defendant company argued that the injured driver was also negligent and attempted to bring in an expert witness to extrapolate the injured driver’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of the accident. However, the judge found it to be too speculative and excluded the defense expert’s testimony from the jury trial.
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