Boston Marathon Spectator Wins Negligence Lawsuit

Accidents are a part of life. Every time we leave the house, there is a chance that we will be involved in an accident. Whether behind the wheel, walking down the street or just standing on a street corner, we are always at risk of injury but that doesn't mean that we always recognize the potential for injury.

When a Framingham woman went to cheer on the runners of the 2007 Boston Marathon, the last thing she expected was to be injured while just standing on the side of the race course. The woman, while standing behind the white line, was struck and knocked down by a police officer riding a motorcycle. Thankfully, the woman was not seriously injured.

In response to the accident, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the Massachusetts State Police, seeking punitive and compensatory damages. In addition to the negligence claim, she also brought a claim that the investigating officer for a civil rights violation and a claim against the officer riding the motorcycle for battery.

A jury awarded the woman $15,500 on the negligence claim, but rejected the other two claims.

Comparative Negligence

Massachusetts follows a comparative negligence standard. This means that a plaintiff is able to recover damages as long as the plaintiff is not more to blame for the accident than the defendant. A second part to comparative negligence in Massachusetts is that the plaintiff's recovery is reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff is negligent.

For instance, if the plaintiff sues the defendant for negligence and seeks $100 in damages as long as the plaintiff is less than 50 percent at fault, the plaintiff can recover. If the jury finds for the plaintiff for $100, then finds that the plaintiff is 20 percent at fault, the plaintiff will recover $80 - total award minus percent at fault.

In the Boston Marathon case, the State Police raised the defense that the woman was to blame for accident by standing on the road. Under Massachusetts negligence law, this defense would be considered, and the jury would decide if her standing on the road put her at fault, and if so, at what percentage. This percentage would then be used to reduce her recovery from the total award.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident or suffered any other personal injury, contact an attorney to discuss your situation.