How Is Fault Determined in a Boston Car Accident?

June 20, 2021

Going through the after-effects of a personal injury incident such as a car accident can not only be deeply traumatic, physically but also leave noticeable emotional scars and cause financial troubles for the accident victims. With the economy as challenging as it is, you need to seek financial compensation for your losses to avoid hitting rock-bottom in life.

Just one moment of recklessness or negligence on part of someone can do all of this to you – this is indeed hard to digest.

However, before you go on pointing fingers at the liable party (you can’t call them liable before you prove it), you need to establish some groundwork. Proving negligence or fault on part of a person in such cases is not always so simple. Yes, having ample evidence and eyewitnesses can make your case stronger but this would only apply in an ideal situation.

In this article, we’ll explore the basics of establishing fault, what you can do to improve your chances, and why hiring a lawyer is so important for settling fairly.

Can You Sue For Personal Injury In Boston, Massachusetts?

red car has been involved in an auto accident in boston

Before we dive any deeper into the whole fault business, aren’t we forgetting something?

Massachusetts is a no-fault state when it comes to Boston personal injury cases, so why should we even bother assigning negligence on part of the other person? Well, as it turns out, the no-fault insurance laws in Massachusetts are not rigid, instead, your case may fall within an exceptional category.

Here’s the deal: if the non-economic damages in your case, the ones that are not reflected in bills but calculated indirectly (physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and so on), exceed $2,000, then you can sue the liable party for your losses. Your own auto insurance coverage will only provide so much of your losses before you’ll have to go and demand the rest from the liable party.

Thus, the state law in Massachusetts allows you to sue the at-fault party under certain circumstances.

But of course, before you can do that, you’ll have to establish that the other person was indeed at fault, or at least primarily at fault (if the blame was shared), for causing you the damages you suffered. This means proving that the losses would not have happened otherwise, they could’ve been avoided, and resulted directly because of their actions/inaction.

Let’s find out how that’s done, in the following section.

Establishing Fault For Auto Accidents In Boston, Massachusetts

Boston car accidents such as rear-end accidents, car-pedestrian accidents, car-motorcycle accidents, and single-vehicle crashes, as with all other forms of personal injury cases, are usually caused by negligence. The liable party may be a single individual, which is the case in most situations, or it could be multiple parties.

In either case, your vehicle accident lawyer will have to establish negligence on part of these responsible parties before the insurance adjuster representing them might be willing to enter into settlement negotiations. Acting neglectfully covers actions/inaction that may cause harm to others.

For instance, a car driver can cause serious damage to other people with whom they share the road, if they drive recklessly, over-speed their vehicle, get inebriated before driving (drunk driving), get distracted, violate traffic light signals, and so on. In all of such cases, you’ll notice that the driver acted carelessly; any prudent person in their place would’ve avoided doing all of these.

This is because driving safely and following traffic laws on the road is a duty of care that every driver owes to the people with whom their share the road. If they fail to show reasonable care while on the road and this leads to a motor vehicle accident, then it would be considered negligence..

Once negligence is established, assigning the fault is no big deal.

Note that for there to be negligence, you must first prove that the involved driver owed you a legal duty of care which they failed to uphold, i.e. breach of duty. However, things don’t end there – while this does prove that the said person acted neglectfully, you still have to prove that the injuries and damages you sustained were because of this negligence and nothing else.

If the negligent behavior was the prime cause of your suffering, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Then you need to calculate the economic and non-economic losses before you file a claim against the liable party.

In some cases, the negligence may not fall entirely on the shoulders of the liable party but also partly on yours – unless this share is not major, i.e. less than 50 percent at fault (comparative fault), you’ll be able to demand compensation. However, your settlement payout will be slashed according to your share of fault.

And this only applies if the liable party is not an uninsured driver, in which case you’ll have to rely on the personal injury protection and property damage liability coverage of your own insurance provider. You have lots of options in injury liability coverage, even in the direst situations, so don’t give up before you’ve even started.

Conditions For Branding A Driver At Fault In Boston, Massachusetts

Summing up the conclusions from the previous sections, here are the conditions that you need to fulfill in accident claims before you can state that the other party was the at-fault driver in a motor vehicle accident:

  • You’ll have to prove that they were at least above 50 percent at fault for causing an accident.
  • The vehicle involved must be privately owned.
  • The payment claim should exceed $500 (non-economic damages should be at least $2,000) at minimum.
  • The damages claimed should fall within the insurance coverage for personal injury and property damage compensation.

If you can prove it all, you’ll be able to assign the blame to the other party and thus demand compensation for the damages they incurred upon you. Just be sure to get an experienced attorney on board as soon as possible to maximize your chances of winning a fair settlement.

What To Do If You Get Involved In A Car Accident?

The auto accident attorneys will handle all the legal stuff but there’s a ton of things you can and should do beforehand to lay down a strong foundation for your case. Start from the accident scene site from the moment the crash happens – you’ll evidence, lots of it.

Even if you can’t sue (damages not high enough) and just plan on getting compensated by your own insurance coverage, evidence is still important.

Photographs, video evidence, and eyewitness contact information are some examples of primary, firsthand evidence that you can collect from the accident scene. And by photos, we mean images covering the entire accident scene, not just your injuries and property damage.

Also, you’ll have to exchange information with the other party, don’t discuss fault at this stage even if it is clear and if they blame you for anything, don’t accept any part of the fault. You should also call the police and wait for the law enforcement officers to show up at your position.

Reporting a car accident to the police is not an option, it is a legal obligation.

Once the officers conduct their primary investigation, they’ll mention important details on their accident report, be sure to get a copy. You’ll also have to document the rest of the evidence such as your medical expenses, extra expenses, property damage, and a journal describing your ordeals with the non-economic damages.

You should not delay seeking medical care for your accident injuries, do it as soon as possible, ideally, don’t put off getting medical attention or any longer than 72 hours after the incident. This way, your claims won’t draw any doubt or suspicion from the other side. Also, be sure to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible and discuss the case with them..

Remember, your accident attorney should be the first person you discuss your case with.

a marron vehicle has been involved in an accident with a white car on a boston freeway

If, in the meantime, the insurance company rep from the liable party’s side contacts you and asks you to give a statement, avoid doing so before you’ve discussed matters with an experienced car accident lawyer..

When you present all the evidence to them and they’ve reviewed your case and are confident about your odds (they may even call upon accident reconstruction experts), the legal action will commence. You can either sort things out via settlement negotiations as per the insurance policies which is how most personal injury cases are resolved, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit.

Call Our Boston Car Accident Lawyers At Michael Kelly For Legal Representation At All Levels

It is best to never delay calling an accident attorney to explore your legal options and discuss your position in the case. Handling settlement negotiations on your own is not a good idea because this what you’ll end up with a nominal payment for your damages, barely enough to compensate you.

Don’t let your hesitation or financial worries keep you from calling us. At Michael Kelly law firm, we work on a contingency fee plan which means that you won’t have to pay a penny from your pocket for our legal fees.

Just call us today or fill up our online contact form, and we’ll take over the rest!

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.