When it comes to car insurance, Massachusetts is considered a no-fault state. This means that even if another driver was wholly responsible for causing an accident, your own auto insurance will pay for a portion of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the accident. Personal Injury Protection benefits, also known as PIP coverage, are a required part of car insurance policies in Massachusetts and are the part of your policy that would pay in this situation.
However, car insurance coverage works a little differently if the car accident injures a pedestrian. In these cases, the driver’s PIP insurance will pay for the pedestrian’s injuries.
Modified Comparative Negligence
What if your expenses exceed your PIP coverage? In serious accidents, you may need to recover damages from the other driver’s insurance carrier. To do this, you must be able to prove that the other driver was at least 51% at fault for causing the accident. Massachusetts follows a law called modified comparative negligence, which allows courts and insurance claims adjusters to assign a percentage of fault to all parties in an accident.
Under modified comparative negligence law, if you are 51% or more at fault for an accident, you are not eligible to receive damages. If you are 50% or less at fault, you may recover damages, but they will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. If you are 0% at fault, you are entitled to 100% of your damages.
Massachusetts state law contains a list of circumstances where the driver can be considered at least 50% or more at fault for the accident. Among them are:
- Being the only vehicle involved in the collision
- Striking a pedestrian
- Causing a collision by opening your door
You can see from this partial list that the law favors pedestrians in car accidents.
Can a Pedestrian be at Fault for an Accident?
It’s clear that pedestrians are at a disadvantage on the road. Accidents involving a pedestrian and a motor vehicle almost always result in serious injuries to the pedestrian and minimal injuries to the driver of the vehicle. Because of this, we tend to believe that pedestrians always have the right of way. However, that is not always the case.
Like drivers, pedestrians have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care when sharing the road. If the pedestrian fails to behave reasonably carefully and an accident happens as a result, the pedestrian could be found at fault for the accident.
Let’s take a look at how this might work in real life. If a driver hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, it’s almost a given that the driver will be found at fault.
However, if the pedestrian jaywalks in a dangerous intersection and the driver can’t avoid hitting them, the pedestrian could be found at least partially fault. If the pedestrian is texting and enters a crosswalk without looking and are then struck by a car, they might also be assigned partial fault. If the pedestrian’s negligence forces an oncoming car to swerve, and the car then hits a parked car or a telephone pole, the pedestrian might even be forced to pay for damage to the cars and the driver’s injuries.
Trust a Worcester Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Accidents involving pedestrians can result in serious injury or even wrongful death. Unfortunately, proving fault and negligence can be complicated and complex.
If an accident has left you requiring serious medical care, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the damages you need to cover your medical bills and lost wages. At the Worcester personal injury law firm of Peter Ventura, we assist clients who have suffered injuries as a result of negligence.
Having practiced law in Massachusetts since 1985, we have the necessary experience to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions and get you the damages to which you are entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.