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.
In rejecting the defendant’s argument and affirming the lower court’s ruling, the court cited G. L. c. 89, section 11. This provision provides that a driver of a vehicle cannot pass any other vehicle that has stopped at a marked crosswalk for the purpose of allowing a pedestrian to cross. The statute also provides that a vehicle cannot enter the marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is sufficient space to accommodate the vehicle. The parties debated whether this statute applies to pedestrians who are crossing in a marked crosswalk even when the oncoming traffic has a green light. The city argued that this statute does not apply to such a situation, while the plaintiff argued that it does. The court noted that the language of the statute was broad, applying to all drivers without making reference to whether or not the light must be green. The appellate court also considered that interpreting the statute in this way comported with the general rules of the road, in which a pedestrian is understood as having the right of way in a marked crosswalk, regardless of whether the oncoming driver has a green light.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a negligent driver, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. At the Law Offices of John S. Moffa, we provide experienced, personalized, and compassionate legal guidance to victims throughout Massachusetts. Our pedestrian accident lawyers can help you conduct a thorough investigation, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue the judgment or the settlement that you deserve. Call us at 1-800-446-4485 or contact us online to set up a free consultation today.
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