In order to bring a successful negligence claim in Massachusetts, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and damages exist as a result of the injury.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Massachusetts. Gen. Laws c. 231B, §§ 1-4 states that Massachusetts follows a modified form of comparative fault.
When a negligence action for a personal injury is brought before a court, the finders of fact will weigh the percentages of fault for each party involved in the action and attribute a proportioned amount to the plaintiff as well as each defendant so that the total percentage reaches 100% in the aggregate.
If the plaintiff was 50% or less to blame for their injury, their award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff, if any. For example, if a court awards $100,000 in damages related to a plaintiff’s injury but attributes 10% of the blame on the plaintiff, the plaintiff will only be able to recover $90,000 of the $100,000 damage award.
If a court finds that the plaintiff is 51% or more to blame for their injury, they may be completely barred from a monetary recovery for their injury.
Joint & Several Liability
When two or more defendants are found to have been responsible for a plaintiff’s injury, they are considered to be both jointly and severally liable.
This means that the plaintiff is authorized to recover the entire damage award from one or all of the defendants. Joint and several liability is meant to protect a plaintiff in that the system of liability increases the likelihood that the plaintiff will recover their damages in full. In many instances, one defendant is wealthier than another. If a plaintiff was only allowed to recover an amount equal to the percentage of fault attributed by a court to each defendant, it is very possible that a plaintiff would never see the full damage award.
If a plaintiff recovers the full damage award amount from one defendant, despite the fact that, that defendant was not entirely responsible for the injury, that defendant is permitted to seek contribution against the other responsible defendants.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Massachusetts allows recovery for medical bills; loss of wages; physical pain and suffering; disfigurement; psychological distress; and loss of future earnings.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. However, Massachusetts is one of the few states in the country that does not allow a punitive damages award in a personal injury case unless the conduct of the defendant resulted in death and a wrongful death lawsuit is brought.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. Should you have a question/concern specific to Massachusetts law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Massachusetts.