When someone suffers injuries in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident, the person responsible can face both civil and criminal penalties. Massachusetts imposes criminal charges for certain forms of negligence, which are similar but not identical to a negligence claim in a civil damages case. However, both Massachusetts civil and criminal law work to hold parties responsible for their negligent actions.
Recently, a serious accident occurred at a car wash in Peabody, Massachusetts. A pickup truck was waiting in line to enter one of the car wash’s self-service lines when it slammed into the back of the car parked in front of it. Sadly, when the pickup truck struck the car, it also hit a pedestrian standing in between the two vehicles. The pedestrian suffered severe lower body injuries and was flown to the hospital for treatment. Police issued the driver a criminal summons for negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
What is the Difference Between Criminal vs. Civil Negligence in Massachusetts Car Accidents?
Massachusetts law makes it a crime to negligently operate a motor vehicle. To convict someone on a negligent operation of a motor vehicle charge, the prosecution must prove the person operated a motor vehicle on a public way in a manner that could endanger the public. Notably, the law does not require someone to actually endanger the safety of the public. Instead, prosecutors only need to show that a person’s conduct when operating a motor vehicle, when taken as a whole, might have endangered the lives or safety of others.
In a civil damages case, defendants are liable for negligence if they owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and breached that duty through their negligent action or inaction. Additionally, plaintiffs must show that a defendant’s conduct caused their injuries and that they suffered harm as a result.
What Is the Burden of Proof in Civil vs. Criminal Cases?
In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict them of a crime. This is a much higher standard of proof than civil cases, in which plaintiffs only need to prove their cases by the preponderance of the evidence. In other words, a plaintiff must show it is more likely than not that a defendant is liable for his or her injuries. Following a pedestrian accident, a Massachusetts personal injury attorney can help you understand the legal elements you must prove in a civil negligence suit to recover damages for the injuries you have suffered.
Have You Been Hurt in a Massachusetts Pedestrian Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident, contact the Neumann Law group to talk through your options. Our skilled attorneys possess years of experience representing injured plaintiffs in car and other motor accidents, pedestrian accidents, and many other areas of personal injury law. In a wide range of legal claims, we provide dedicated and zealous representation to fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office at 800-525-6386.