Streets in Boston are often teeming with activity, and rush hour can delay traffic for miles. Unfortunately, amidst all this action, pedestrian accidents commonly occur. While Massachusetts law generally favors the rights of pedestrians over motorists, determining who had the right of way prior to an accident can be a crucial factor in a pedestrian accident case.
Whether your injury was suffered at an intersection or on the sidewalk, an attorney qualified to handle personal injury cases may be able to help you successfully pursue monetary recovery from the responsible party. An experienced Boston pedestrian accident lawyer could explain your legal options and fight on your behalf for the compensation you are entitled to under Massachusetts state law.
Determining Liability in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Several Boston-area traffic regulations are in place to protect pedestrians from motor vehicles. However, many pedestrians are nonetheless injured in auto accidents due to negligence on the part of a careless driver.
Motorists in Boston have a duty to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles. If a car, truck, or other vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the victim can seek to hold the driver accountable for negligent behavior. Under Massachusetts law, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the driver:
- Owed them a duty of care
- Breached that duty
- Caused harm to the victim by violating their duty of care
The crux of establishing liability usually lies in proving that the driver’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries. In other words, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that injuries would not have occurred had the defendant not acted the way they did, and that their injuries were a probable outcome of the defendant’s carelessness.
Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning pedestrians hit by a car will have their medical bills and/or lost wages paid by the automobile insurer for the car that hit them, provided that the car is registered in Massachusetts. If the car is registered in another state, then the out-of-state insurance policy benefits would apply such as, for example, PIP or MedPay.
Pursuant to Mass Gen L Ch. 231 Sec 6D, pedestrians injured in a car accident may file a claim or lawsuit for pain and suffering damages if all of their related medical expenses are more than $2,000 or if they fall within one of the law’s exemptions such whole or partial loss of a body member, permanent and serious disfigurement, or loss of sight or hearing.
The Role of Shared Fault
Even in cases where pedestrians are in part responsible for their own injuries, the driver of the vehicle that hit them is also at fault for the accident. For instance, if a driver is texting behind the wheel, accidently veers out of their lane, and hits a pedestrian who was walking in a prohibited area, both parties may share fault.
When there is blame on both sides, Boston courts use a modified comparative fault standard in order to determine appropriate compensation. According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231 §85, any judgment awarded to a plaintiff will be reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s comparative negligence as long as the plaintiff’s comparative negligence does not exceed 50%.
So, a plaintiff will not get any compensation if a jury finds that the plaintiff was 51% (or higher) at fault. If the victim meets or is under the at-fault threshold, the court would reduce damages awarded by a percentage equal to the amount of liability they hold.
Just as drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely, there are expectations placed upon pedestrians as well. The following pedestrian behaviors may be considered by Boston courts as evidence of negligence by the pedestrian, which may reduce the amount of compensation the plaintiff can recover:
• Walking into moving traffic or at a “do not walk” signal
• Walking on the road while under the influence
Talk to a Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
If you suffered injuries as a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in Boston, you could be facing a long and potentially expensive recovery. You may benefit from the counsel of a skilled Boston pedestrian lawyer who could fight to aggressively represent your interests and obtain a degree of justice on your behalf. Call today to schedule a consultation.