Negligence is an important legal concept on which many personal injury claims are based. A person is generally considered to have acted negligently if their conduct differs from what a reasonable person would have done in a given situation. For example, if a Massachusetts resident speeds in their vehicle, runs a red light or otherwise causes an accident with a motorcyclist, they may be found to have acted negligently, since a reasonable person would not have, for example, sped or missed the traffic signal.

If a person is found to have been negligent in a civil personal injury case, then their victims may be able to seek compensation for their losses that arose out of the person’s actions. In cases where motorcyclists are injured while on the roads, many victims can prevail in court if they can demonstrate that other drivers acted negligently. However, Massachusetts recognizes as an additional negligence concept that can impact victims’ abilities to recover their damages, and that concept is contributory negligence.

Put simply, contributory negligence assesses whether a victim acted at all negligently and thereby may have contributed to their own injuries. If a victim was faultless, then they may be able to recover their full damages. If, though, they were also negligent in the accident then their capacity to recover may be reduced.

A defendant in a motorcycle accident case may claim that a motorcyclist victim was speeding, not following traffic signals or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe or negligent manner. Victims therefore should be aware of and be prepared for possible contributory negligence claims when they file their motorcycle accident injury cases. Personal injury attorneys can advise their clients on how to handle these and other matters that may complicate their legal cases.