Personal InjuryCar Accidents Cause High Number of Child Deaths; Massachusetts Comparative Negligence Law May Reduce Recovery When Seatbelts Not Used

June 13, 20170

A recent report issued by the New York Times indicates that for children under the age of 15, the most common cause of death is unintentional injuries resulting from car accidents.  In the majority of fatal crashes, children were not wearing safety belts.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided statistics that supported the research and indicated that from state to state, there were variations in children’s deaths.In Massachusetts, for example, between 2010 and 2014, there were 0.25 deaths per 100,000 children, as compared to 3.23 per 100,000 in Mississippi.  In Mississippi, of the 99 children who died in a car accident during the study period, 56 were not wearing seatbelts or were improperly restrained. Additionally, the study indicated that more deaths occurred on roads that were classified as rural by the Federal Highway Administration. The reasons for this vary and may include the distance to trauma centers, poor lighting on roads, and other factors.


The main takeaway from the study is that child restraints effectively prevent injuries and death.  Following a car accident, if you have a child who has not been properly restrained by a safety belt, it may affect the amount that you recover from the at-fault party.  After proving legal fault, or liability, in a personal injury claim for damages, a plaintiff in a lawsuit can recover compensation for their injuries, property damage, and emotional suffering.

According to Massachusetts law, comparative negligence may be asserted by a defendant in a lawsuit for damages following a motor vehicle accident. Contributory negligence is a defense that may apply when the plaintiff has partially caused the underlying accident.  For example, if a defendant has negligently crashed into the plaintiff, but the plaintiff suffered greater injuries because she failed to wear a seatbelt, the defendant may allege that she contributed to her damages.  In some states, such as North Carolina, a plaintiff who has even minimally caused their damages may be barred from recovering.  That harsh rule is called a pure contributory negligence doctrine.

Massachusetts’ comparative negligence system will allow a plaintiff to recover damages, even when they are partially responsible for the damages.  The amount that a plaintiff will recover will be reduced according to the amount the plaintiff contributed to the accident. Provided that the plaintiff did not contribute to more than half of the damages, or 50% of the accident, they will recover compensation.

If you or someone close to you has been hurt in an accident in the Boston area, our law office can help.  Attorney Michael O. Smith and the team at our law office diligently work to help people hurt by the reckless or careless conduct of others.  By pursuing a legal claim for compensation, injured individuals can hold at-fault parties accountable for the harm they have caused.  To understand your legal rights and set up a free consultation with a skilled Boston car accident attorney, call our office at (617) 263-0060 or use our online form.

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