Massachusetts Personal Injury Library

The Difference Between Contributory and Comparative Negligence

Being involved in a car accident in Massachusetts can have a serious impact on your life. After the crash, you are left with many questions concerning your health, personal injuries and the damages done to your vehicle. Knowing the difference between contributory and comparative negligence can answer some of these important questions.

If you are in a car accident where you hit a car that may have been engaging in an unlawful act, the liability may be unclear at first glance. In the case where both parties have been negligent, contributory and comparative negligence will determine the amount of liability.

Some states adhere to contributory negligence while others follow comparative negligence as a standard. In Massachusetts, accident liability is determined using a modified comparative negligence model.

Comparative Negligence

Let’s start with comparative negligence. In Massachusetts, comparative negligence is used to determine liability where both parties may be considered negligent. If you bring a personal injury claim against someone else, then you are the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant. In Massachusetts modified comparative negligence, the liability for the accident depends on which party was more than 51% responsible for the crash and resulting damage.

This means, for instance, that if the other party’s actions were the majority cause of the accident, they are liable for damages, even if your actions also contributed in a minor way to the crash.

Contributory Negligence

Four states and Washington, D.C., use contributory negligence to determine liability. The main difference is that contributory negligence allows one party to avoid liability, or pay a much small amount of compensation if the other party contributed at all to the accident. States that follow contributory negligence make it extremely difficult for an injured party to receive the compensation they need after being injured in a crash.

Call a Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

When in doubt about the type of negligence in your car accident case, call the Boston personal injury law firm, Kiley Law Group.

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Massachusetts Car Accident Attorney Disclaimer: The contributory negligence, comparative negligence, car accident injury, or other legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. Please contact Tom Kiley or an attorney for a consultation on your particular legal matter. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Massachusetts.

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