• Ann Sheeley

How “Fault” in an Accident Impacts Your Personal Injury Claim in Rhode Island & Massachusetts

Updated: Feb 3

Sometimes, it is obvious who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident. For example, if a truck blows through a stop sign and hits your vehicle, then it’s safe to assume they are to blame. However, there is usually a large grey area when accidents occur. Perhaps you are not sure who is at fault or the insurance company has declared both parties have partial fault in the accident. At Sheeley Law, we frequently get calls from people in need of advice following their accident. In this article, we’ll address both scenarios and whether or not you can pursue a personal injury claim for your injuries and losses. As always, Rhode Island personal injury attorney Ann Sheeley is available 24/7 for a free consultation to answer your specific questions.

Fault and Personal Injury Claims
Scenario 1: The Other Driver Bears “Total Fault” for the Accident

If you were in injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence and the other driver was deemed entirely at fault, you are entitled to be compensated for your losses, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and the loss of any future income. However, the amount you receive in a settlement can vary depending on the severity of your injuries and if you hired a qualified personal injury attorney to protect your rights and fight the other driver’s insurance company for maximum compensation.


Scenario 2: You and the Other Driver Share “Partial Fault” for the Accident

It is not uncommon for “Fault” to be shared by drivers. For example, one driver could be 25% responsible for an accident while the other driver is 75% responsible. Each state has their own set of laws. For example, Rhode Island is a “pure comparative negligence” state, but Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state. Below we explain the difference and what it means for you:


Rhode Island’s "pure comparative negligence" rule means the other driver does not have to be 100% at fault for you to have a legitimate case. When both parties are found to share blame for an accident, you can collect damages proportionate to your fault in causing the accident. For example, if you are declared 75% at fault, you can still get compensated 25% of your total losses. To illustrate, let’s say the court decides your total damages are $100,000, which includes medical bills, lost income, vehicle damage, pain and suffering, etc., and they also determine you are 25% responsible for the accident, under Rhode Island’s pure comparative negligence law, you are entitled to get 75% percent of the $100,000 total, or $75,000. This is still a significant sum, therefore, it is worth hiring Rhode Island personal injury attorney Ann Sheeley to file your claim and pursue maximum compensation, even if you are at partial fault in an accident.


Massachusetts’ “modified comparative negligence” rule means that you can only recover for injuries in an accident if you are declared less than 51% at-fault. In other words, if a judge or jury determines that you are 51% at fault or more for the accident, you will not be entitled to any amount of compensation. If you are 50% or less at fault, you can recover, but your recovery is reduced by the percentage amount of your fault. And of course, if you are not at fault at all, you are entitled to recover 100% of your damages.


In Summary

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, whether you are not at-fault, partially at-fault or unsure as to who is at fault, you should understand your options for filing a claim and getting compensated for your losses. The most important thing you can do is hire a personal injury attorney that is licensed and knowledgeable about the laws of the state in which the accident occurred.


Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience and a proven track record of delivering results because when it comes to you and your family, “Results Matter.” In court and in settlement negotiations, she will be your advocate, standing up for your rights and interests at all times. For more information and a free consultation, contact us at 401-619-5555 or asheeley@sheeleylaw.com.