In Weiss v. City of Cambridge, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries when she was struck by a truck as she crossed a major street. The plaintiff was crossing within the crosswalk when the driver of the truck made a left-hand turn, striking the plaintiff. She suffered serious long-term injuries to both knees, incurred substantial medical bills, and was unable to attend several weeks of work. The truck was being driven by an employee of the City of Cambridge.
At trial, the main issue was the amount of fault that should be apportioned between the driver and the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff was within a crosswalk at the time she was struck, evidence at trial indicated that the plaintiff did not obey the pedestrian signal at the time she crossed the street. The jury assigned 35 percent fault to the plaintiff and the remaining percentage of fault to the driver of the truck. Based on Massachusetts law, the plaintiff’s damages award was reduced by 35 percent to reflect her contributory negligence.
The City appealed, alleging that the judge improperly instructed the jury regarding the application of certain statutes that apply to truck drivers and pedestrians. One of the statutes at issue details the responsibilities that drivers have when it comes to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. According to the city, the plain language of this statute required a finding that it should not be applied to the present case.