For decades, actually until the 1970s, when Massachusetts adopted the rule of Comparative Negligence, a slightly different doctrine was in effect: the rule of contributory negligence which was a complete bar to the plaintiff’s recovery. Thankfully that standard has changed. If a plaintiff is found negligent in an amount of 50% or less, he/she can recover. The damages are reduced to the extent of the negligence on the part of the plaintiff. Therefore, if a plaintiff is 20% negligent, his/her damages will be reduced by 20%. This changed the law because it has allowed anyone found negligent in an amount of 50% or less to recover. Previously, the doctrine of contributory negligence would completely bar recover, even if the plaintiff’s negligence was slight.
The above was a softening or liberalizing of a harsh law. Perhaps it did not go far enough. Consider the law of Florida where there is pure comparative negligence. This allows a plaintiff to recover who is even more than 50% negligent. Of course, that plaintiff will have his/her damages reduced by his/her negligence. Needless to say, it is something that plaintiff personal injury lawyers prefer.
One advantage in Massachusetts is that a Judge will instruct the jury on the effect of finding a plaintiff more than 50% negligent. That was previously done on occasion, usually by referring to the very confusing Comparative Negligence Statute. Now, you can get an instruction that in a clear way will explain to the jury the effect of a finding of 51% or more negligence on a plaintiff. Full disclosure is always good.
The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.
Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.