Recent blog posts - New Hampshire Car Accident Lawyers - Liberty Legal Services

New Hampshire Car Accident Lawyers - Liberty Legal Services

In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.

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Were You Injured As a Result of Being Tasered?

High voltage stunning devices, like Tasers, have recently come under attack from critics who say that, not only do they cause personal injury, but in susceptible suspects, they can also cause cardiac arrhythmia. Even in the healthiest individuals, the use of a Taser by a police officer can cause a heart attack to occur within moments. Death occurs by ventricular fibrillation. If ventricular fibrillation is not treated immediately, cardiac arrest can occur.

In 2014, a medical school graduate died after being involved in a Taser incident, leading his death to be investigated by Connecticut state police. 31 year old Lashono Gilbert died several hours after being arrested as a suspect in a carjacking case. In an 8 hour span, police officers used a Taser on Gilbert twice. The first time, he was Tasered for resisting arrest. He was Tasered again several hours later for allegedly attacking police officers at the police station.

The Arrest

On October 31st, 2014, Gilbert was initially arrested on charges of carjacking sometime after 7:00 pm. He was accused of jumping through the window of a woman’s vehicle while she was driving. The victim described Gilbert as making stabbing motions and speaking in a bizarre, off putting manner. To get him off of her, she floored the gas, and then called 911.

Gilbert told police officers he was hearing voices. He was screaming and acting in an aggressive manner while resisting arrest. These actions caused police officers to use a Taser on him for the purpose of subduing him. An ambulance then took Gilbert to the local hospital, and on Sunday morning, around 3:00 am, he was transported to the local police precinct.

At the Police Station

After arriving at the police station, Gilbert was placed in a holding cell. He promptly took his pants off and began to twist them, as though he were fashioning a rope. Police officers at the station opened his cell door to take his pants away because they were afraid he might hurt himself. Rushing the cell door, Gilbert reached the booking area of the police station. There, he began to throw various objects at officers before engaging in a struggle with them. The struggle ended after he was Tasered a second time by an unnamed officer.

An ambulance en route to the hospital picked Gilbert up. There, he was pronounced dead. The investigation into the case is still ongoing.

Have You Been Tasered?

Unfortunately, Taser guns have become all too common and are now regularly used by police officers in New Hampshire and across the country in large numbers. Police officers have developed a reputation for using them indiscriminately without regard for the safety of others and without warrant.

Many modern Taser devices now feature an option for adding additional video on the device, but few police departments have elected to use this option. Is this due to the fact that police officers are too frequently using Taser devices without justifiable cause?

If you have been involved in a Taser incident in the state of New Hampshire, you should speak to an experienced NH persona injury attorney to discuss the facts surrounding your case. Anyone who is unsure of their situation does not have anything to lose by consulting with an NH injury lawyer. Contact our law firm today.

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Uncle Sam Is After Your Settlement

So you were involved in a personal injury lawsuit, and your NH personal injury attorney was able to negotiate a significant settlement on your behalf.

How much is the IRS entitled to receive? After all, they were not the ones who were injured. They did not have to stay in the hospital. They didn’t require months of therapy to recover from their injuries. They didn’t have to replace their automobile, and they did not spend months contending with attorneys and insurance providers.

So how much are they going to get?

Ideally, the answer is nothing.

Any type of monetary compensation that you receive for personal injury damages, which have resulted from physical injury, are usually not classified as taxable by the IRS. Regardless of whether you received this compensation through a pretrial settlement, or were awarded the compensation after a trial, it is irrelevant. The federal government cannot legally tax the proceeds from the monetary amount you were awarded as a direct result of your personal injury lawsuit. The same holds true for state governments, and they cannot tax your award.

Federal tax laws have created allowances for monetary amounts received as a direct result of personal physical sickness or injury and allow them to be excluded (for tax purposes) from an individual’s gross income.

Simply put, the monetary compensation you receive to make you whole (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and lawyer’s fees) are not classified as taxable, so long as they have been awarded as a result of personal physical sickness or injury. (An example of sickness would be an individual who develops mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos.)

This is the good news…

Breach of Contract

If your injuries resulted from a breach of contract, or if you chose to file a breach of contract claim in conjunction with your personal injury claim, then any amount awarded pursuant to the breach of contract are classified as taxable. For example, if you voluntarily entered into a contract for a sightseeing tour and were injured on the tour, your NH personal injury lawyer could file a negligence claim and a breach of contract claim, wherein your injuries resulted from some component of your agreement being breached. Any amount that was awarded because of the breach of contract would be taxable at the end of the year.

Punitive Damages

Moreover, punitive damages are also taxable. If an award is received after a trial and punitive damages were requested, the verdict would be divided to show which amount is for compensatory damages and which amount is for punitive damages.

Interest

Interest on awards is also taxable. The initial filing of a lawsuit is only the first step in a lengthy journey. If your complaint was filed today, and the trial began a year from today, your judgement would more than likely include an amount of interest for the period of time between when you initially filed the suit and the judgement was awarded. If the defendant chose to file an appeal and did not end up paying the judgement until two years later, three years of interest would accumulate – all of which is classified as taxable.

Emotional Injury or Emotional Distress

Claims that are filed specifically for emotional injury or emotional distress are taxable, unless an element of physical injury can also be proved. For example, if an employee were to file a sexual harassment claim at their place of employment, the damages would be considered emotional in nature, and the award would be taxable.

In these types of cases, it is highly beneficial for you to have an experienced NH personal injury lawyer representing your interests. They are skilled in negotiating adequate settlements and documenting agreements in order to ensure that each client pays the lowest amount of taxes possible on their settlement. A settlement agreement should explicitly state which portion of the award is for physical injury and which amounts are for other claims. The same holds true for jury awards or court verdicts. The final award should clearly spell out which dollar is going towards what.

If you believe that you have a personal injury claim in the state of New Hampshire, ensure that you represented by the most skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers available. Contact our law offices today to schedule a free case review.

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This Thanksgiving Season, Make Safe Travel a Priority In New Hampshire

This Thanksgiving season, it is estimated that America’s interstates and highways will carry 40 million Americans towards their family members and loved ones. With this number growing each year, motorists must exercise caution as they take to the roads and head off to celebrate with those who love them, particularly within New Hampshire. Our NH personal injury lawyers are offering several tips for NH motorists to follow:

1.       If you are traveling a long distance, double check your automobile to ensure that it is ready for extended travel. Before beginning your holiday travel, make sure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. Having your vehicle inspected by a certified auto technician is the ideal course of action, but if you must do it yourself, make sure that your tires have the proper pressure levels, your gas tank is more than 3/4ths full, making sure your car battery is fully functional, and testing your vehicle’s various blinkers and lights.

 

2.       Don’t travel for extended periods of time without taking a break. Fatigue can be caused by driving, and this results in a diminished capacity for properly observing your surroundings. Stop and take frequent breaks to regroup and rest. You should never consume alcohol before or while you are driving.

 

3.       Keep distractions, like your cell phone, at bay. If you will be traveling with children, keep entertainment devices or harmless toys on hand to ensure that boredom doesn’t get the best of them.

 

4.       Make sure your vehicle is equipped with an emergency kit in the event something goes wrong. At the very least, your emergency kit should contain water, protein or granola bars, a first aid kit, blankets, money, a flashlight, and extra batteries. An extra cellular phone is advised, in case your other forms of communication die.

 

5.       Allow yourself extra time if you will be traveling in the snow. In a moment’s notice, the streets can become deadly. Regardless of whether you have been on the road for hours or just a few minutes, you must pay proper attention to the road and your fellow travelers. Use headlights and blinkers when appropriate, follow the rules of the road, comply with the posted speed limits, and do not follow other vehicles too closely. In the event that your car has problems, immediately pull over to the side of the road to get out of the way of other drivers. In the Commonwealth of New Hampshire alone, 12 months’ worth of fatal accidents amount to an average of $143 million. You do not want to become another statistic.

 

6.       On longer trips, fatigue will almost certainly become an issue. You need to recognize when your senses are beginning to lose their sharpness. When this starts to happen, rotate with another passenger. It is advised that you drive in shifts and allow yourself plenty of time to reach your final destination.

 

Thanksgiving weekend offers one of the best times to reconnect with your family members and loved ones. Be safe, follow these tips, and enjoy a delightful and safe journey and celebration.

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The True Cost of a Personal Injury In New Hampshire

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident in the Commonwealth of New Hampshire, it is imperative to speak with a New Hampshire personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive the monetary compensation to which you are entitled. When a person is hurt, there are numerous costs that can arise. In addition to medical expenses, an individual or family can accrue more expenses (e.g. lost wages) from the victim’s inability to return to work. In the event of a wrongful death, funeral expenses must be dealt with.

For most individuals, the primary immediate concern is medical bills. This is particularly true if the victim’s injuries left them with a permanent disability, or if the victim experienced a catastrophic injury. Examples of catastrophic injuries include spinal damage, brain injuries, and head injuries. This type of injury can result in paralysis and numerous other side effects which make it difficult or impossible for the victim to return to work, and they may result in a lifetime of care for the victim. When a person is hurt, it is important for them to understand how this will affect their financial future. In a recently released report, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that, on average, a catastrophic spinal cord injury will cost between $15,000.00 and $35,000.00 per year to care for. Over the course of the victim’s lifetime, he or she can reasonably expect to spend between $500,000.00 and $3 million for their own care.

Most injured victims believe that their medical expenses are the single largest financial burden they must contend with, but lost wages often account for more significant losses. Although no money is being directly paid out, a family will lose income when their family member dies or is else rendered unable to work. Even if the victim is only unable to work for a short period of time, if he or she is the primary breadwinner, this can be financially devastating for a family.

When it comes to personal injury, such factors are often referred to as the cost of care. When these factors are related to wrongful death, they are referred to as the cost of life. In the United States, the average amount of care for injury or death will depend upon the case’s specific circumstances.

According to the aforementioned report by the CDC, the total average cost of unintentional death in 2005 was $902,394.00. Medical expenses averaged $11,670.00, while lost wages comprised the other $890,723.00. According to estimates made by the National Safety Council, the average cost for minor injuries ranges from $2,400.00 to $27,000.00. The average non-capacitating injury costs $57,400.00, while an incapacitating injury will require an average of $225,000.00 in care each year. The true cost of an injury can only be estimated when specific factors of the case are used.

It is important for any New Hampshire resident who has been involved in a personal injury accident to speak with an experienced NH personal injury lawyer before agreeing to a settlement with an insurance provider. Only a skilled personal injury attorney can safeguard their client’s best interests and ensure that they receive fair compensation for their injuries. This amount of compensation includes medical expenses, in addition to any further medical treatments that one’s injuries might require down the road. Contact our law offices today to set up a free consultation.

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The Most Common Causes of Serious Auto Accident Injuries

Automobiles are dangerous. Every year, thousands of accidents occur on New Hampshire’s roadways. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has reported that automobile accidents are the single leading cause of death for persons between the ages of 5 and 34. Vehicular accidents are among the top ten causes of death across all age groups. In 2013, 135 people died in automobile accidents in New Hampshire alone.

Why Do These Accidents Occur?

New Hampshire State Police have reported that nearly 75% of all auto accident related deaths in New Hampshire are caused by one of the following reasons:

§  Driving under the influence of alcohol

§  Driving in an unsafe manner (e.g. making unsafe lane changes or speeding)

§  Failing to use seatbelts

§  Driving while distracted by using a cellular phone or other type of electronic device

Accidents that do not result in death, but produce serious injuries, have similar causes.

1.       Driving While Intoxicated – In 2012, in the state of New Hampshire, 1/3rd of all traffic related deaths were caused by intoxicated motorists. Although this number seems high, it is lower than the national average in the United States. Across the U.S., 38% of all automobile accidents involve alcohol.

 

Alcohol slows downs and inhibits your ability to function and make smart decisions. Those who drink and get behind the wheel of a car are prone to act aggressively while driving and to make dangerous decisions.

 

2.       Aggressive Driving – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the results of a survey in which nearly half of all adult American motorists admitted to driving aggressively or following unsafe driving practices. Approximately 67% of those surveyed thought that their personal safety had been jeopardized by an unsafe motorist within the last year.

 

3.       Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is classified as the number one cause of serious automobile accidents within the United States. It has become an increasing concern with the sharp rise in popularity of smartphones and GPS navigation devices. Nearly 80% of all accidents in the United States involve a distracted driver, in addition to 65% of near accidents.

 

4.       New Hampshire Drivers & Seatbelt Usage – New Hampshire is the only state in the United States that does not have a law necessitating the use of seatbelts for adults over the age of 18 years. According to the NHTSA, seatbelts save approximately 13,000 lives each calendar year. For this reason, New Hampshire law enforcement officials strongly urge all NH motorists to wear their seatbelts at all times.

 

New Hampshire has consistently maintained lower rates of seatbelt usage when compared to the United States as a whole. For example, in 2013, the United States’ average rate of daytime seatbelt usage was 87%. By comparison, New Hampshire’s average was only 73%. Still, this was a marked increase from the 2012 average of 69%.

Get Legal Assistance For Serious Automobile Accident Injuries

If you have been involved in an auto accident in the state of New Hampshire that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, then you need to contact one of our experienced NH personal injury attorneys as quickly as possible. Regardless of the cause of, or what type of accident you had, we are here to assist you. Call us today to set up a free consultation.

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Lemon Laws: What Are They and How Do They Affect You?

Most lemon laws entitle a buyer to a remedy if their automobiles are out of service for an extended period of time because of failure or serviced repeatedly over an extended period of time because of the same recurring problem. Such laws vary from one state to the next and by the types of repairs that are covered. There are obvious problems, like transmission failure, power loss, or the car refusing to start, while others are less black and white, such as excessive tire wear, fluid leaks, and wind noise. For this reason, the remedies afforded by lemon laws vary widely, from repurchase by the manufacturer to full automobile replacement.

Per New Hampshire state statute 357:D:1 et seq. New Hampshire’s lemon laws cover:

VEHICLES COVERED: The New Hampshire lemon law covers the following motor vehicles purchased or leased in New Hampshire:

1. A motor vehicle of the private passenger or station wagon type with a gross weight not exceeding 11,000 pounds that is purchased or leased by a consumer;

2. Any other four-wheel motor vehicle with a gross weight not exceeding 11,000 pounds; and

3. Motorcycles, off-highway recreational vehicles, and snowmobiles. The lemon law does not cover tractors or mopeds. “New motor vehicle” is a passenger motor vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s express warranty. The lemon law covers a used vehicle if still under the manufacturer’s express warranty.

CONSUMERS COVERED: The lemon law covers the following consumers:

1. The purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, of a new motor vehicle;

2. The lessee, other than for purposes of sublease, of a new motor vehicle;

3. Any person to whom the motor vehicle is transferred during the duration of an express warranty applicable to the motor vehicle; and

4. Any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations. The lemon law does not cover any governmental entity. [1]

There is a limited amount of time to file a complaint.

In the Commonwealth of New Hampshire, there is a limited amount of time to file a complaint. If you believe that you might have a valid complaint, you should first collect all records concerning your automobile. This includes the owner's manual, all warranties, service invoices and orders, and purchase contracts. Take thorough notes on each conversation you have with the dealership where you purchased the vehicle and its service technicians. The time and date of each attempted repair should be recorded, in addition to any other relevant comments.

Then, request copies of all manufacturer’s technical service bulletins on your vehicle from the manufacturer. You should track and record how frequently your car is in for repairs with times in and out and dates. Finally, contact our New Hampshire personal injury attorneys at our law offices to assist you in understanding your different options and evaluating your case.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for New Hampshire motorists to be injured in accidents because of defective automobiles. New Hampshire’s civil justice system affords protection for victims of negligence to recover fair, full, and adequate monetary compensation for any injuries they sustain. Our NH personal injury lawyers handle claims in all personal injury arenas, and we will work diligently on behalf of our clients to ensure that each one receives adequate compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering. Contact us today to set up a free personal consultation.



[1] Better Business Bureau. (2010). Standards of the New Hampshire Lemon Law. Council of the Better Business Bureau, Inc. http://www.bbb.org/us/Storage/16/Documents/BBBAutoLine/NH-LLsummary.pdf Retrieved: August 30th, 2015.

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Is a Structured Settlement the Right Option For Me?

Most settlements in personal injury lawsuits are made in one lump sum payment. A lump sum payment is defined as a one time payment made to the plaintiff in the case by the defendant (or the defendant’s insurance provider). The payment officially settles the case. However, in certain cases, a plaintiff forgoes a lump sum payment in favor of having their compensation meted out through a structured settlement. With a structured settlement, all or part of a plaintiff’s settlement is paid out to them over a period of years. A portion of the settlement is paid to the plaintiff and their legal counsel immediately after the case concludes, and this remaining amount is structured out over a predetermined time period. Structured settlements can even involve lifetime payments.

How Does It Work?

If a plaintiff and a defendant agree upon a structured settlement, the defendant (or their insurance provider) will transfer a percentage of the settlement that will be structured to a different type of insurer. In most cases, this will be a life insurance company who specializes in handling this type of settlement. It is imperative to ensure that the company you select to handle your structured settlement is highly rated. If the business were to declare bankruptcy or otherwise fail, then your settlement will disappear. For this reason, there is a slight element of risk attached to structured settlements.

Most aspects of a structured settlement are negotiable, including the following:

§  How often you wish to receive your payments

§  The lifespan of the structure

§  How much money you’d like for each payment to contain

§  Whether or not you wish for a lump sum payment at the end

§  Whether or not you want payments to continue to your heirs should you pass away before the structure is up

Advantages of a Structured Settlement

The single lump sum method is the traditional method for settling personal injury cases. The defendant issues you a check. You cash the check. The case is closed. All small settlements and most medium sized settlements (those less than $150,000.00 in value) should, ideally, be paid through a lump sum.

However, if you are attempting to settle a larger case, there are two primary reasons why a structured settlement might be beneficial:

1.       First and foremost, a structured settlement ensures that the money will not be spent too quickly. Unfortunately, many plaintiffs who receive large, sudden windfalls spend all of the funds in a shockingly short amount of time. Within 2-4 years, there is nothing left.

2.       Secondly, the structured settlement method will save money on your taxes. Generally, the money that you receive in a personal injury lawsuit settlement is not taxable; however, you are required to pay money on the dividends and interest that you earn on settlement money after it has been invested. This can result in a significant tax payment each year. With a structured settlement, there is considerably less money sitting in your bank account, and your tax obligations are much lower.

Advantages of a Lump Sum Settlement

The primary advantage of a lump sum settlement is that it enables you to receive your money right away. If you need to pay off medical bills or bills related to your settlement, this is an ideal arrangement. If you plan to purchase a new car or home or start a business, then you need the money quickly. If the settlement is not that significant, then a structured settlement will not offer any real advantage.

Discuss with your New Hampshire personal injury lawyer whether or not accepting a structured settlement would be advantageous for you. Being familiar with the unique aspects of your case will enable your lawyer to advise you regarding the best course of action.

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How to Avoid Trick or Treating Injuries

Did you know that, statistically, Halloween night is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians being struck by automobiles? When compared to any other day of the year, nearly three times as many pedestrian deaths occur on this holiday. According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 19% of these pedestrian deaths involve alcohol. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday, which could increase the chances of a pedestrian accident occurring. Trick or treaters cannot always rely on motorists to take their safety into consideration or to follow the rules of the road. Therefore, it’s up to pedestrians to ensure their own safety while trick or treating.

Follow the Rules of the Road

While out trick or treating, the safest method of ensuring you do not become an accident victim is to follow the rules of the road. You should always use sidewalks and crosswalks, and you should pay careful attention to traffic lights and stop lights. If you travel in a group, this will reduce your chances of being struck by a motorist, because a driver is more likely to see a group of people instead of a single individual. Even in a group, children under the age of 12 should always be accompanied by an adult.

The type of costume you are wearing will play a significant role in your own safety and ability to avoid becoming the victim of an accident. If you plan on trick or treating, you should be dressed in a safe costume. Children especially should be able to move freely in their costume, without worrying about tripping, and they should be able to see clearly. Most Halloween costumes tend to be ghoulish and dark, but strategically placing reflective tape on a costume can be a lifesaver. Parents and trick or treaters can better prepare ahead of time by knowing what type of lighting is available along their route.

The Accident Statistics

According to statistics, teenagers have the highest risk of being involved in an accident. If you plan on letting your teenager out to trick or treat, take a moment to inspect what type of costume they’ll be wearing. Minimize their chances of becoming an accident victim by taking a moment to sit down and talk with them about trick or treating safety. A simple tip you can pass along to trick or treaters of any age is to make eye contact with an oncoming motorist before stepping out into the street. This will assist them in feeling confident that the driver has seen them.

Be Prepared

No amount of precautions and preparing can ensure a person’s safety 100% on Halloween. However, the more trick or treaters are prepared, the less likely they will be injured or worse. Should the unthinkable happen, and you or your child is injured in an accident, it is imperative to remember that you have legal rights. Your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention. Your second step should be to contact an experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney who can explain your rights to you. Our NH personal injury lawyers will document each element of what has occurred and guide you through each step of the legal process to ensure a full recovery.

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How to Keep Track of Your Medical Expenses In a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When pursuing a New Hampshire personal injury lawsuit, it is imperative to keep accurate records of all your accident related expenses. Your NH personal injury lawyer will need this documentation to obtain a fair settlement on your behalf.

Here are 5 tips for ensuring that you keep track of your claim related medical expenses:

1.       Each time you visit a hospital, therapist, physician, or other medical office and must pay, request a copy of the bill. Each of your visits to hospitals, therapists, physicians, and other medical facilities should be recorded. Each time you make a payment, request a copy of your bill.

 

2.       Each time you must have a doctor’s prescription filled, ask for a copy of the bill. If you need to purchase any medications or medical equipment due to your injuries, keep copies of the pharmacy bills and receipts of your payments.

 

3.       For medication purchases and medical bills, record the date and amount paid. It is highly important to keep separate, meticulous records that list any and all pertinent information regarding your medical expenses. Examples of information you will want to record include the amounts you are charged for medication or medical services, the date that you paid these charges off, and the method of payment (e.g. personal expenses, insurance, etc.).

 

4.       Record and request copies of all medical bills that your insurance carrier processes. All medical expenses for yourself must be copied and recorded for your NH personal injury lawyer, even if these expenses were paid for by your employer or your insurance provider.

 

5.       Send your New Hampshire persona injury lawyer a copy of all bills you incur as a direct result of your injuries. Your personal injury lawyer must receive all copies of your medical bills, regardless of whether they are for medication, medical services, or another related expense. As the time to settle your case nears, you should also send your lawyer an itemized summary of your medical expenses. Although your pharmacists and doctors might already be forwarding copies of these bills to your lawyer, sending additional copies will ensure that your lawyer is not missing any of them. In turn, this will ensure that claims does not settle for any less than its actual monetary value.

In addition to keeping track of your medical expenses, there are several other things you can do to assist your NH attorney with your case:

§  Return his or her phone calls in a timely manner.

§  Carefully read all correspondence they send to you.

§  Be on time to each of your medical appointments.

§  Create a list of individuals who can serve as potential witnesses and who could testify about your injuries or the incident itself.

§  Create and maintain audiovisual documentation.

§  Let your personal injury lawyer know about any additional changes to your contact information, like phone numbers or addresses.

§  Alert your NH personal injury lawyer if any personal details, like your marital status or employment status, change.

§  Keep your New Hampshire personal injury lawyer informed regarding any changes in the condition or injury that resulted from your accident.

If you have been injured in the state of New Hampshire and plan on pursuing legal action, contact our law offices today to speak with an experienced NH personal injury attorney.

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How Long Is It Going to Take to Resolve My Accident Case?

We see many clients in our offices who ask the same question – “How long is it going to take to resolve my New Hampshire accident case?” To answer this common question, we’ve prepared a simple guide that will describe all of the procedures involved concerning the “average” personal injury lawsuit.

Documenting the Accident Scene and Determining Fault

If you have been involved in a motorcycle or automobile collision, it is imperative to ensure that law enforcement officials are called to the scene to thoroughly document the accident, gather witness statements, and determine who was at fault for the accident. If a New Hampshire personal injury claim is going to be successful, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant was responsible for the collision and their resulting injuries. Simply put, you must have been injured through no fault of your own.

Receiving Medical Attention

If your automobile accident resulted in serious bodily injury, seeking immediate medical attention is of the utmost importance. Ambulance transport to the nearest hospital is often required for severe injuries. If you do not promptly seek medical attention, an insurance adjustor will view this as evidence that you do not receive any accident related injuries or as proof that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. This will make a claim for injuries more difficult to prove and will result in less monetary compensation, if you can receive any at all.

Finding a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

It is critically important to have an experienced NH personal injury attorney by your side. Severe injuries require months, even years, of medical treatment and care. An experienced lawyer will assist you in navigating through each step of the legal process. Critical components of your personal injury claim that your attorney will handle include pain and suffering, documenting damages (e.g. lost wages), coordinating insurance and health payments, and managing medical bills. Moreover, while working on your personal injury claim, your NH injury attorney will conduct witness and client interviews, obtain medical records and bills, investigate the at fault party’s ability to pay a judgement, and examine comparative fault issues, amongst many other tasks.

Negotiating a Settlement

After you have reached maximum medical improvement and do not require additional medical care or treatment, a demand package will be forward to the opposition’s lawyer or to the insurance provider. This package will list the damage aspects of your claim and set forth liability. This is your attorney’s opportunity to create, for the insurance provider, a comprehensive picture of your injuries and damages, which will include medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. A lawsuit is not always required to obtain the monetary compensation you seek. For example, our NH personal injury lawyers are often able to reach a satisfactory voluntary settlement with an insurance provider. If fair compensation is not provided, the next step in the process will be to file a lawsuit.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Hampshire

The process of going to trial in New Hampshire begins with the filing of a lawsuit. The process of litigation is often expensive and time consuming. On average, a personal injury lawsuit will take up to two years before the trial actually begins. Because New Hampshire has a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to retain legal counsel as soon as you are able after your accident.

Discovery, Negotiation, and Mediation

The discovery process enables both parties in a lawsuit to investigate the claim for monetary compensation, in addition to any planned defenses. Many settlement negotiations begin during the discovery process. If an appropriate settlement cannot be reached, mediation offers another method of reaching a settlement before the trial actually begins.

The Jury Trial

The majority of New Hampshire motorcycle and automobile accident claims are settled before reaching trial. If a claim cannot be resolved, a jury will be selected, your personal injury lawyer will present your case and request a monetary award for compensation. The jury process affords you the opportunity to request compensation for your injuries from you peers.

For more information regarding personal injury claims in the state of New Hampshire, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

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How Does an Attorney Settle a Personal Injury Claim?

After lawyers become involved, the settlement process becomes significantly more complicated. A New Hampshire personal injury attorney will utilized a diverse range of legal tools, including their own experience, to negotiate the most beneficial settlement for a client.

In the Commonwealth of New Hampshire, the majority of personal injury lawsuits will be settled before reaching trial. There are a number of benefits (for both the plaintiff and the defendant) to ensuring a personal injury lawsuit remains out of the courtroom.

When Will Settlement Negotiations Begin?

After a personal injury lawsuit has been filed, settlement negotiations generally will not begin until both sides have completed the discovery process. The discovery process includes depositions and interrogatories. It is rare for an insurance provider to enter into settlement negotiations unless they have gathered all of the facts they feel they need to make a decision.

In more complex lawsuits, most defense lawyers are unwilling to negotiate a settlement until after the plaintiff’s attorney has provided the names of their expert witnesses. This is due to the desire to wait and see if the plaintiff’s attorney has conducted the research required to adequately prepare the case for trial.

In some lawsuits, the defense lawyer will file a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, which is also known as a summary judgement. In such cases, most defendants are unwilling to discuss a settlement until after the court has made a decision regarding the motion. If the motion is granted by the court, the case comes to an end. However, if the motion is denied, then it becomes time to talk. In some instances, a defense lawyer may be willing to enter into negotiations while the court is considering the summary judgement. Each case is unique.

When it comes to discussing settlements, the defense lawyer and the insurance company are the ones who hold the cards. These are the individuals/entities in charge of the money. If they are not ready to enter serious negotiations, the plaintiff and their legal counsel will not move forward in discussions.

Experienced personal injury lawyers for a plaintiff do not want to appear too eager to discuss a settlement because their actions might be interpreted by the defense as being desperate. If the defense believes that a plaintiff is desperate to settle, they will generally make lowball offers in an attempt to persuade the plaintiff to settle the case for far less than it is actually worth. Consequently, a plaintiff’s legal team will generally wait until a defense lawyer requests a settlement demand.

How Are Settlement Negotiations Conducted?

In smaller personal injury suits, particularly when attorneys are acquaintances, one attorney might pick up the phone and discuss a settlement. An official demand letter may or may not be sent. A defense lawyer may or may not reply with a counteroffer. If the defense believes that the original demand was too high, they may choose to ignore the offer or state that it is too much. If a counteroffer is made by the defense, then the negotiating will begin. Attorneys can sometimes settle these cases, sometimes not. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the case will more than likely move to mediation.

Defining Mediation

Many personal injury lawsuits involve mediation. Nowadays, most New Hampshire courts require both parties to attend mediation in an attempt to have the case resolved. Mediation is conducted either by a private mediator or a judge who is not assigned to the personal injury claim. In the beginning, a mediator meets with each party. Then, he or she meets with each side individually to see if they can get their numbers closer together. Mediation may take a few hours, or it can take days or weeks. It is not always successful, but does have a fairly good track record.

Settling a Personal Injury Case

Settlement negotiations can go on for quite some time. A plaintiff shouldn’t be discouraged by the fact that the negotiations are drawn out. There can be a number of reasons for this. As long as the lawyers for both parties are still talking, this is a good sign.

If a plaintiff decides to accept a settlement offer from the defense, then a case is considered settled. All the attorney is required to do is inform the defense lawyer that the offer has been accepted.

You Can’t Go Back

The single most important rule about accepting a settlement offer is that it can’t be undone. In the state of New Hampshire, once an offer has been accepted. It is final. As with most other contracts, it is useless to request a court to overturn a settlement agreement. For this sole reason, it is important for a plaintiff to carefully consider all aspects of the settlement offer before accepting.

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Have You Been Injured By a Roof Collapse or Slip and Fall In New Hampshire?

The winter months are nearly upon us, and this means snow! There was lots of it last year. In New Hampshire, because of record amounts of snowfall in recent years, there is a growing concern over roofs collapsing. In 2014, heavy snow storms led to the loss of property and numerous collapsed roofs in different parts of the state. Portsmouth, New Hampshire received a disproportionate amount of the devastation where the snow wreaked havoc on many buildings. Because of the sheer amount of snow, between 500 and 700 Portsmouth residents were displaced from their homes after the roof of their apartment building caved in. Fortunately, no one was injured. City officials and the owner of the property decided, due to safety concerns, to evacuate everyone until repairs could be made.

Several schools across the state also had to evacuate due to concern over the amount of snow that was on the roofs. Fire crews worked around the clock to shovel snow off of the roofs to prevent structural damage and to remove the snow.

When it comes to local businesses, who is responsible for snow removal?

Each year, there are hundreds of slip and fall accidents reported throughout the state. Business owners are required to keep the sidewalks and walkways in front of and around their shops safe and clear for customers to pass. This responsibility also includes removing excessive amounts of snow from their roofs. Late last year, a New Hampshire man was buried alive in a roof snow avalanche. He was buried for over three hours until his wife arrived home and fortunately heard his cries. In Hooksett, another roof collapse occurred in a Mammoth Road apartment complex. The building contained thirty units. Because of the weight of heavy snow, one of the main beams supporting the building’s roof collapsed. Residents reported being awakened by creaking sounds and loud noises moments before the roof gave way. A team of firefighters was quickly dispatched to carry out evacuations but encountered difficulties getting residents to leave their homes as most were completely unaware of what had just occurred. Hooksett Fire Chief, Michael Williams, reported that there were no injuries, and all of the residents were safely evacuated.

In other communities throughout the state, including Lafayette Road and Seabrook, a strip mall’s roof collapsed because of large amounts of snow. The most recent snowstorm had dumped more than 20 inches of snow on the ground across the town. The owners of the building stated that they were aware there was a possibility that the roof could cave in, so they made contact with a roofing company to have the roof cleared. Unfortunately, no one was available to do the job. Their personal efforts to remove the snow were inadequate. Fortunately, no patrons or personnel were inside of the mall when the roof collapsed. Even though there was significant amount of damage, there were no injuries.

Have you been injured in a slip and fall accident or roof collapse?

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident or in a roof collapse, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention. Your second step should be to contact an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer. Our personal injury attorneys will collect all of your medical records and conduct a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding your accident. You need an attorney who is well-versed in New Hampshire’s premises liability laws and who has experience handling complex cases such as these. Our New Hampshire injury attorneys have the legal skills and experience to effectively advocate on our clients’ behalf to bring their personal injury claim to a successful close.

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For the Elderly, Slip and Fall Accidents Can Be Fatal

For elderly individuals, a slip and fall accident can result in serious injuries. Retail shops and businesses that cater to an older demographic should take extra precautions to ensure that their premises are free of trip and fall and slip and fall hazards. Not only does New Hampshire’s premises liability laws require owners to keep their structures and land safe for all visitors, any establishment that caters to the elderly, like a medical supply company or rehab center, has a duty to each patron to ensure that they remain safe. If a property manager or landowner fails to comply with this duty, a person who is injured has the legal right to seek monetary compensation for their injuries.

According to a report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), any individual over the age of 65 possesses the biggest risk of being seriously injured from a slip and fall related accident. Their estimations conclude that 1 in 3 persons over the age of 65 will suffer from a fall each year, and that, as a result, 20% to 30% of them will suffer moderate to severe injuries. Moreover, for senior citizens, these injuries can produce long term effects that make it difficult for them to move around, perform the daily activities of life, or live by themselves. Per the same report, 2.4 million senior citizens were treated for trip and fall or slip and fall accidents in 2011.

Besides the suffering and physical pain, serious fall related injuries are often quite expensive. For the aging Baby Boomer generation, slip and fall related injuries are one of the top 20 most expensive medical conditions to treat. For a fall related injury, Medicare pays an average of $13,979.00 to $20,450.00. According to CDC estimates, in 2010 alone, the total immediate medical costs for slip and fall injuries occurring in the 65+ age range was approximately $30 billion. By 2020, this average cost is expected to reach nearly $68 billion. In nonfatal slip and fall injuries, nearly two thirds of the total cost of medical care was comprised of hospitalizations.

Slip and fall accidents occur on a daily basis. Though most injuries are minor, studies have shown that, as a person’s age advances, their risk of serious injury from a fall does as well. When a person falls, there are a number of different types of injuries they might experience. The CDC discovered that, in 78% of all fatal slip and fall injuries, the victim’s death was caused by injuries to the lower extremities and/or a traumatic brain injury.

Bones fractures are the most common type of nonfatal slip and fall injury. They are experienced by more than 1/3rd of victims. Every year, this type of injury costs approximately $18.8 billion to treat. Among the elderly, hip fractures are the most serious. Surgery is often required, and the loss of a senior citizen’s ability to walk can cost them their ability to live independently.

If you or an older loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, please contact our law offices today to speak with one of our experienced NH personal injury lawyers. In addition to medical expenses, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

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7 Factors Your New Hampshire Personal Injury Attorney Will Consider When Evaluating Your Case

Most personal injury lawsuits, including medical malpractice, slip and falls, and automobile accidents, will be settled before reaching trial. Determining the specific damages a victim is entitled to recover in a trial is a critical component of reaching the best settlement. There are a number of factors that must be considered when appraising a personal injury claim for settlement.

Case evaluation is an ongoing process. It starts with your initial meeting with your NH personal injury lawyer and continues throughout your case’s lifetime. Here is a list of 7 factors your NH personal injury attorney will use to determine 1) whether or not you have a case, and 2) the monetary value of your case during settlement negotiations as your trial date approaches.

1.       Was the defendant negligent? Negligence is defined as the failure to use the degree of a car a reasonable individual would in a similar situation. If your injuries were caused by the defendant’s unreasonable carelessness, this strengthens your case. In a similar fashion, if it can be proven that your own negligence contributed to your injuries, this will weaken your case.

 

2.       What are the “damages”? Damages, in legal terms, is defined as the potential monetary value of your case. Common examples of damages include medical bills and other out of pocket expenses, lost income and wages, and pain and suffering. The defendant’s negligent actions might be obvious, but if you did not suffer harm, then you do not have a case.

 

3.       Can the defendant pay a judgment? If a jury gives a verdict in your favor, will the defendant be able to pay the judgement against him? If a defendant does not have the means to satisfy a judgement, both you and your personal injury lawyer will have devoted a significant amount of resources, time, and effort to the case for no reason.

 

4.       Is a jury going to believe your witnesses? A case is only as strong as its evidence, and a considerable portion of your evidence will be made up of eyewitnesses. Ideally, your witnesses should be impartial (e.g. not family members or close friends) who can accurately describe how your injuries have negatively impacted your daily activities. This will make your case much stronger. If your primary care physician can testify on your behalf, he or she will make a compelling witness and can boost the monetary value of your claim.

 

5.       What sort of insurance provider are you dealing with? If the insurance company you are dealing with has a reputation for fair-mindedness, the settlement value of your personal injury claim will be higher than if you are dealing with a tightfisted carrier.

 

6.       Where will the lawsuit be filed? Just as some insurance providers are more conservative than others, jurors in some cities and communities will be more conservative than others. If the insurance provider refuses to offer a fair settlement, the location (also referred to as “the venue”) of your personal injury lawsuit will become an important component in evaluating your claim.

 

7.       Is the law favorable to you? If your NH personal injury lawyer can cite other cases with facts that are similar to yours, this can favorably and significantly increase the monetary value of your claim.

 

If you have been injured in an accident in the Commonwealth of New Hampshire and believe you might have a valid personal injury claim, contact our law offices today. When it comes to personal injury claims, time is of the essence. The more time that passes, the less likely a jury will be to award you a significant monetary settlement, especially if your injuries have mostly healed and your daily life has mostly returned to normal. The statute of limitations in New Hampshire for filing a personal injury claim is three years from the date of your accident, so don’t delay.

Your initial consultation is free.

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The Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in any sort of accident, from an auto collision to a slip and fall, then seeking appropriate medical attention for your injuries should be your first priority. However, equally as urgent is your need to contact a skilled and experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer.

In a manner similar to medical treatment, many victims who have suffered from serious injury will frequently wait until they think it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable to speak with a personal injury attorney. However, there is a phrase you will often hear in the field of personal injury law: You snooze, you lose.

Here are our top 5 reasons why you should never wait to contact an NH personal injury lawyer:

1.      Government Tort Claims Deadlines and Statutes of Limitations. A statute of limitations is defined as a specific time limit in which a case arising from an injury must be filed. Statutes of limitations vary widely from one state to the next and are also dependent upon the particular nature of a case. Moreover, personal injury claims against a government entity are subjected to “Tort Claims Acts”, which can create considerably accelerated deadlines within which a case must be filed. In the state of New Hampshire, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the date the accident occurred. An experienced NH personal injury lawyer will be familiar with these deadlines and how they apply to your jurisdiction and specific case.

 

2.      Evidence can be destroyed or lost. Your chances of successfully winning a personal injury lawsuit depend primarily upon the strength of the evidence you have. However, how long you choose to wait to file legal action can significantly affect your chances of winning. The longer you choose to wait, key evidence that supports your legal case, like physical evidence at the accident scene, proof of injuries, and witness statements, become much more difficult to document. A personal injury lawyer will diligently work to immediately identify and preserve any evidence that could be beneficial to your case. Not only does this increase your chances of winning a case, but it also removes the burden of proof from your shoulders. With all that is going on after an accident, this is one less thing you must contend with.

 

3.      Your memory (and those of witnesses) of the accident can fade. In many cases, the most important piece of evidence you will have is your own memory of the accident. As most people know, memories of an event or accident can be altered with time or fade altogether. This includes the memories of any eyewitnesses to your accident. A personal injury lawyer will be able to assist in documenting each detail related to the event, even if the details seem insignificant. He or she will know what details are going to be crucial to successfully winning your case.

 

4.      You could miss out on your opportunity to receive a quick settlement. Contrary to popular opinion, not all personal injury claims result in a jury trial. Many times, a settlement can offer the ideal resolution for a personal injury claim. Obtaining a fair settlement enables the victim to be financially compensated for their pain and suffering and injuries and allows them to move forward with their lives. At the same time, it enables a defendant and their insurance provider to avoid the hassle, expense, and time a trial would involve. However, negotiating a fair and quick settlement is usually easier said than done. This is where the assistance of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable. Your personal injury attorney can offer advice regarding the pros and cons of a settlement. Furthermore, he or she can negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled too.

 

5.      When your case is left in capable hands, you can enjoy sound peace of mind. In addition to the physical aspect, injuries that arise from accidents often leave the victim struggling with the psychological and emotional impact, and this can be difficult. During this whole process, your first priority should be to focus on your healing. When you confidently know that your case is being left in capable hands and that there is someone advocating on your behalf, it can remove a huge weight from your shoulders and from the minds of your family members and loved ones.

 

If you still have hesitations about hiring a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer, bear in mind that most NH personal injury attorneys, including those at our law firm, operate off of a contingency fee basis. Essentially what this means is that unless your lawyer obtains a settlement on your behalf, he or she does not get paid. If a settlement is won, then your lawyer will take a percentage of the winnings as their fee. This method of operation enables you to avoid having to come up with the cash to pay an attorney upfront.

When it comes to the personal injury claims in New Hampshire, time is of the essence. The statute of limitations in our state is three years from the date of your accident, and the earlier you get started, the better off you’ll be. For a free consultation regarding your case, contact our law firm today via email, telephone, or through our website. We want to work with you to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled too and to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

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Proving Negligence and Fault In An Accident

Today, we’re going to discuss some general rules that can assist you in proving negligence or who is at fault in an accident.

We all wish it could be a simple matter to prove who was at fault for your accident, whether it is medical malpractice, an automobile accident, or a slip and fall case. However, this task is rarely easy. In order for an entity or individual to pay for the injuries you have suffered, you are required to prove in a court of law who the liable, or responsible, party is. Proving fault often involves simple common sense; however, there are times when it will require complex analysis.

Establishing Legal Liability

With the majority of accidents, there will be a single party who is liable for the injuries incurred. New Hampshire state law utilizes a simple principle to determine liability: If an individual involved in an accident exercised less caution than another, then the individual who was less careful must pay for, either wholly or partially, for the damages and injuries suffered by the more cautious person.

There are several simple, practical rules that are applicable to this legal concept of liability:

§  In order for an individual to be held liable for an injured victim, a duty of care must have existed between the two parties. For example, if the victim was in a location where he or she should not have been, and they were aware of this fact, then the injurious party may not be held legally accountable because he or she did not have a care of duty to keep the victim safe.

 

§  If the injured victim was partially responsible for the injuries they suffered, such as acting in a reckless manner, then the monetary award they receive for damages and injuries can be reduced by an amount proportional to the percentage that he or she contributed to the cause of the accident.

 

§  If a negligent person injures another individual while in the employment of another person or party, the employer could be held legally responsible for the injuries the injured party sustained.

 

§  If a victim suffers injuries that occur while on property that is dangerous or poorly maintained, the property’s owner(s) can be held legally liable because they are responsible for the safe upkeep and maintenance of the property.

 

§  If an injury occurs because of a defective or poorly made product, the seller and maker of the product could be held liable to the injured party because it is not the victim’s job to determine whether or not a defect exists in a product.

 

When More Than One Person Is at Fault…

The task of proving fault becomes considerably more complicated when more than one party could be held legally liable for a victim’s injuries. In fact, if more than one individual acted negligently or can be held at fault, it can increase a victim’s chances of recovering a significant amount of damages. In many states, if the injured victim is capable of proving that more than one party were responsible for their damages and injuries, then current law states that all negligent parties are responsible for the entirety of the victim’s injuries. For example, if four careless motorists are responsible for a pedestrian’s injuries in an accident, then these four motorists and their insurance providers must decide amongst themselves how the damages will be apportioned.

There exists one primary advantage to an injured victim with regards to this particular rule – he or she can choose from whom they wish to collect damages. In the aforementioned example, let’s say it is determined that the injured pedestrian is entitled to collect $20,000.00 for their pain and suffering and injuries. The victim can choose from whom they would like to collect the damages. If only one of the four motorists is insured, then that motorist will most likely be chosen by the victim. The responsibility for figuring out how to collect from the other motorists involved is placed on the shoulders of the insured motorist’s insurance company. The insurance firm is legally required to pay the entire $20,000.00 sum.

Comparative Negligence & Partial Responsibility

There are specific situations and circumstances in which it is hard to determine that another person or motorist was wholly responsible for the injuries a victim suffered. With automobile accidents, the other motorist and the victim will, often times, both be partially responsible for the collision. In these scenarios, a principle referred to as comparative negligence is utilized. Under the tenants of this rule, blame is divided between each driver in percentage amounts, and any monetary awards are accordingly reduced.

Let’s use the following example to illustrate our point:

Frank is involved in an auto accident with Bob. Frank suffered injuries in the accident, and the compensation award he received for his pain and suffering and injuries amounted to $10,000.00. However, many are questioning whether or not Bob was solely responsible for the accident. Subsequent investigation determines that Frank was driving too slowly on a busy highway, and his actions are considered unsafe. Because of his negligent behavior, it is determined that he is 25% responsible for the auto accident. Because of this calculation, Frank’s monetary award amount is reduced by 25% to $7,500.00.

In nature, comparative fault calculations are mathematical in nature; however, there is not a single concrete formula that insurance providers use when it comes to determining fault. Calculating the amount of blame that can be placed upon a victim will often boil down to negotiations. A claims adjustor for an insurance provider will present a victim with a percentage, and the victim can either accept this percentage or reject it with arguments for why it should be higher.

The Benefits of Legal Representation

One thing should be very clear: insurance providers are in the business of saving money. Their initial settlement offer might seem adequate at first, but severe injuries often require ongoing care and medical treatment. Once the money from an accepted settlement runs out, that’s it. Any additional medical expenses or out of pocket costs become the responsibility of the victim and their family members. A victim cannot request additional compensation from an insurance company.

For this reason, it is imperative for the victim of an accident to employ the services of a skilled and experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney. For a free consultation regarding your accident, please contact our law firm today.

 

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How Survival Statutes Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you are in the processing of filing a personal injury claim, you might have heard the term “survival statute” mentioned in conversation. You might be wondering exactly what this is and what type of effect it could have on your New Hampshire personal injury lawsuit.

In most states across the country, personal injury claims and lawsuits are allowed to proceed even if the plaintiff or victim passes away. This type of lawsuit is referred to as a survival action. Without this specific legal provision, an injury lawsuit could be dismissed if the primary plaintiff were to pass away from unrelated reasons before the case could be resolved in court.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits vs. Survival Actions

The majority of states within the United States allow survival actions that enable the deceased plaintiff’s to assume the role of plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit that was initiated before the victim’s death. Despite their similarities, survival actions and wrongful death lawsuits should not be confused with one another. There are three primary differences between the two:

1.      The Victims. Wrongful death lawsuits address the injuries suffered by the victim’s family members and loved ones. By comparison, the primary focus of a survival action is the injuries the descendent suffered while they were still living.

2.      The Different Types of Damages. In a survival action, the victim’s estate is legally allowed to recover monetary damages for the deceased’s economic losses and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the legal actions are primarily focused on the monetary losses that have been suffered by the victim’s family members.

3.      How Damages Are Distributed. The monetary damages that are obtained through a survival action are distributed to the victim’s estate, instead of being given directly to the victim’s family members. The damages are then passed on to the victim’s living family members in accordance with the victim’s will. If a will does not exist, then the damages are distributed according to state law.

It is important to bear in mind that each state has its own set of statutes regarding survival actions, and these statutes can vary widely from one state to the next. There are some states that do not include certain types of personal injury lawsuits. For example, Illinois state law does not allow damages recovered in libel or slander lawsuits to be distributed to another family member or person after the plaintiff has passed away.

Other frequently seen limitations include the state’s statute of limitations, certain laws that may prohibit survival actions altogether, and whether or not the plaintiff died from causes that were unrelated to the injuries suffered in their accident.

Damages For Surviving Relatives

Ostensibly, the purpose of a survival action is to provide compensation to a victim for the injuries they have suffered, but survival actions also produce an effect on the victim’s family members as well.

When the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit dies of alleged abuse or causes unrelated to the injuries sustained in the accident, their family members cannot pursue a wrongful death claim. In these scenarios, the only method for family members to receive monetary compensation related to the injuries the plaintiff suffered is through a survival action. The availability of a survival action also produces an impact upon a plaintiff’s ability to pursue a lawsuit while they are still alive, specifically in cases where elder abuse has been alleged. When a survival action is available, it is not uncommon for a personal injury lawyer to pass on taking the case altogether.

New Hampshire state laws governing survival actions are complex, and the rules are constantly evolving. If you believe that you may a claim, please contact one of our experienced NH personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.

 

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Can Videos Assist In Winning Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A quick Internet search will reveal that there are dozens of video production firms that specialize in the creation of personal injury videos for the purpose of using them in legal proceedings. This list of legal proceedings includes arbitration, mediation, and litigation. However, is it considered appropriate to go all celluloid during a personal injury claim?

A video can be used to demonstrate exactly how the injuries sustained in an accident have affected a plaintiff or exactly how an accident occurred. Furthermore, a video can be invaluable to a decision maker, like an arbitrator, judge, or juror. At the same time, these videos can be challenged on a variety of legal grounds.

Here are just a few of the most common types of videos seen within personal injury lawsuits and claims, as well as their pros and cons:

§  The Deposition Video. A deposition video enables jurors to examine a witness’s body language, and it also functions as a powerful means of detecting witness impeachment. However, if you believe that you could put on a Lil Wayne worthy performance in a deposition video, then filming this type of video could potentially cause more harm than good. Moreover, you should bear in mind that body language that has been videotaped could potentially be misleading for some individuals. For example, the videotaped body language of a disabled person, a person with social anxiety, or a person who speaks English as a second language could be misinterpreted if jurors cannot place it in context.

 

§  The “Day In the Life” Video. The ultimate goal of a “day in the life” video is to document a plaintiff’s daily routine. In doing so, it provides a jury with a visual, comprehensive outlook on how the victim’s injuries have impacted their daily life. It also offers a method of demonstrating the difficulties the victim faces in completing everyday tasks.

 

§  The Wrongful Death Video. A wrongful death video essentially serves as an “in memoriam” homage. It examines the life of a victim and demonstrates how their sudden passing has negatively affected the lives of their friends and family members. This type of video excels at adding a personalized touch to a wrongful death lawsuit; however, it’s the injury or financial loss that is the primary measure of damages in this type of claim. Tugging at a judge or jury’s heartstrings is only going to get you so far. What is going to be the most useful is demonstrating how the death of the victim has financially impacted their family.

 

§  The Accident Reconstruction Video. This type of video employs visuals and expert testimony to bring to life exactly how an accident occurred, and it can be an invaluable tool in determining who is at fault and who is responsible for paying monetary damages. These visual aids are evidence, such as police reports and photographs taken at the accident scene. The primary downside of using this type of video is that it can raise potential issues regarding hearsay evidence.

 

Video Surveillance In Personal Injury Claims

While video can be a valuable tool for the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, video surveillance is often employed by defendants and their insurance providers to try and disprove a victim’s claims of injury or disability. In most instances, insurance providers will hire private investigators that will follow and film a plaintiff in the hopes of obtaining video evidence that would prove a defendant is not as injured as he or she claims.

The primary issue with defendants who employ video surveillance is that the individual who is filming has the opportunity to shut off the camera at their discretion, which prevents others from viewing a plaintiff’s actions with the correct context. A private investigator could follow a plaintiff for days just to obtain a couple of minutes of footage of the victim performing a particular activity. Naturally, the videographer will not be present the next day to film the plaintiff if he or she is in pain from overexerting themselves.

Is Video Evidence Admissible In a Court of Law?

In addition to the issues surrounding hearsay evidence, another hurdle that must be cleared is having a personal injury video admitted into evidence in a New Hampshire court of law. Generally, before a video will be admitted into evidence, the plaintiff must prove that:

§  The personal injury video is 100% authentic (e.g. it has not been manipulated or staged).

§  The video in question is relevant to understanding a critical element of the plaintiff’s case.

§  The probative value of the video outweighs its potentially prejudicial aspects (e.g. the truth is not hindered by the use of emotionally charged evidence).

Whether or not a personal injury video can be used in your unique case is going to depend primarily upon what you are trying to prove and the specific facts surrounding your case. You should always bear in mind that the defendant and their legal counsel can object to your use of video on a variety of legal grounds.

The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation

The use of video evidence in a New Hampshire personal injury claim or lawsuit can be a double edged sword. In order to decide if creating a video would help or hinder your case, you need to have a skilled and experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer working on your behalf. This is where our law firm can step in to offer their assistance.

With decades of combined experience within the arena of NH personal injury law, each of our personal injury attorneys will diligently analyze each facet of your case, answer any questions you might have, and recommend an appropriate course of action - including whether or not video evidence would be helpful to your case. Your initial consultation is free, and we can be reached via telephone, email, or through our website. Because time is of the essence in personal injury claims, don’t delay.

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5 Things Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Do (That You Can’t)

You’ve been involved in an accident. Instead of hiring a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer, you are contemplating representing yourself in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In legalese, this is referred to as “proceeding pro se”. The thought certainly seems tantalizing. After all, how hard can it really be?

The answer: pretty dang hard.

As with any sort of legal proceeding, as the legal plaintiff in your personal injury claim, you certainly possess the right to act as your own legal counsel. The question is whether or not you should. Would you be better off enlisting the assistance of a personal injury attorney who has more legal expertise and experience?

While we would certainly answer this question with an emphatic “Yes!”, in order to assist you in determining which option is best for you, here is a list of five critical things a personal injury attorney can do that you probably won’t be able to:

1.      Know What Is Required For Your Case to Be Proven In Court

As the injured victim in a personal injury lawsuit, you more than likely feel as though you possess all of the information required to prove and win your case. However, there is much more to a personal injury claim than simply proving you were injured.

Simply providing evidence of, or testifying about, specific elements of your personal injury claim will not be sufficient. For example, in order to prove your claim, you may be required to bring in an expert witness who can demonstrate that the negligent party responsible for your injuries acted in an unreasonable fashion. There are also specific rules regarding hearsay and what forms of evidence a New Hampshire court can even take into consideration.

2.      Negotiate a Fair Settlement

An experienced and skilled NH personal injury attorney can spare a client the uncertainty, expense, and long wait that often accompany jury trials by negotiating a settlement out of court. However, before entering into negotiations with an insurance company, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. This list includes:

§  Your chances of successfully winning your case at trial

§  Settlements and verdicts in similar cases in New Hampshire

§  Potential weaknesses in the evidence on both sides of the trial

§  The true scope of the defendant’s financial resources, as well as their insurance coverage

An experienced attorney can quickly gather and scrutinize this information competently, because this is what they are trained to do. Your lawyer will also be able to negotiate and deal with the defense (and their legal representation), which often is an excruciating headache for those not trained in the field of law.

3.      Make Important Deadlines

Each jurisdiction within the United States possesses its own civil procedure code which governs and dictates civil proceedings, including personal injury lawsuits. These civil code procedures can vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next. Included within these codes are specific deadlines for almost everything, ranging from when notices must be served to the opposing side to filing a claim within a jurisdiction’s statute of limitations. In the state of New Hampshire, the statute of limitations is three years from the date the accident occurred.

Failure to file a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations that New Hampshire has established can result in your claim’s dismissal. Even once a claim has been properly filed, there are a plethora of other deadlines that must be met. Unfortunately, NH courts usually have no sympathy for pro se plaintiffs who miss (even accidentally) deadlines.

4.      Stop Removal to Another Court

Recently, across the United States, a handful of large corporate defendants embroiled in personal injury lawsuits have had, or tried to have, their cases transferred from state to federal court systems. There is a common view that federal courts are friendlier to defendants and are considerably less likely to award large monetary amounts of damages to a plaintiff. An experienced and skilled New Hampshire personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge and skills required to prevent this transfer from occurring. At the same time, he or she will be able to advise you as to when a transfer of courts could work in your favor. Such knowledge can be invaluable.

5.      Dealing With the Opposition

http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2014/05/5-things-a-personal-injury-lawyer-can-do-that-you-probably-cant.html#more

 

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Will New Hampshire Lives Be Saved By Lowering the BAC Standard?

Driving while intoxicated is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents in the state of New Hampshire. It is also one of the leading causes of serious, debilitating injuries. A primary reason for the establishment of DWI laws is to bar other motorists from consuming alcohol and then causing a fatal or serious accident. Through raising awareness of drunk driving and the enforcement of DWI statutes, the past decade has seen a significant drop in the total number of alcohol related accidents. In a report that analyzed the number of alcohol related automobile fatalities per every 100,000 individuals from 2001 to 2011, the Century Council concluded that a decline of almost 50% had occurred. Moreover, during the same period in our state, deadly alcohol related crashes for those less than 21 years of age declined by nearly 90%.

It is highly debated whether or not these declines can be solely attributed to the enforcement of DWI laws. Over the last ten years, states all across the country have tightened their existing DWI laws by adding additional provisions, like the required use of ignition interlock devices for offenders, but there are also a number of other factors that must be taken into consideration. For example, overall awareness of the effects of drunk driving has risen, and the standard safety features found on most automobiles have drastically improved.

In 2009, one particular study examined fatal automobile accidents involving impaired motorists in order to analyze whether the number of drunk driving fatalities was directly influenced by existing DWI laws. The study concluded that alcohol impaired driving is directly correlated to an increased chance of being the cause of a fatal motor vehicle collision. However, researchers could not, with certainty, conclude the reasons for the decline in fatal DWI accidents. For example, as a whole, the United States experienced a notable reduction in the number of fatal automobile accidents, but at the same time, so the rest of the world. These numbers would suggest that safer automobiles and increased awareness of drunk driving would have more influence on reducing fatal vehicular accidents than the creation of stricter DWI laws.

Another method of further reducing the number of fatal DWI accidents in the United States has been discussed extensively by researchers - reducing the current BAC limit from .08 % to .05%. When BAC standards were lowered to .05% originally, the number of DWI accidents in the US was reduced significantly. Proponents of these changes believe the lowering the limit still could produce an even better effect. The study declares:

“Lowering the BAC limit from .10 to .08 g/dL also showed an approximate 8% reduction in drinking drivers involved in fatal. Assuming that these effect sizes could be achieved from additional enforcement efforts and from lowering the BAC limit from .08 to .05, we might expect a further reduction of drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes of between 10% and 20%”

When a motorist has a blood alcohol content of .05%, he or she will generally begin to experience challenges to their visual functions, like their depth perception. However, for the average motorist, their cognitive abilities will not be affected.  The alcohol amount that is necessitated to affect an individual’s driving abilities is going to depend upon a number of different variables, such as that person’s age, weight, the amount of food they consumed before drinking alcohol, and many others.

In the aforementioned report by Century Council, it was determined that, in the year 2011, there were approximately 27 fatalities suffered in auto accidents in the state of New Hampshire due to impaired motorists. For that year alone, this number represents nearly 30% of all fatal driving related accidents within New Hampshire. Only a single fatality was attributed to an impaired motorist under the age of 21 years, which represented nearly 10% of all fatal automobile accidents. While the Century Council believes that 30% is still a somewhat high number, they also stated that 86% of all fatal alcohol related car accidents from that year involved motorists who had a blood alcohol content of .15% or higher. These numbers suggest that a relatively small number of motorists who were responsible for causing automobile accidents because of alcohol impairment actually had lower blood content levels.

Such information seems to suggest that lowering the minimum standard BAC levels would do precious little to actually keep New Hampshire’s roads safer and would only create more “criminals”. In terms of blood alcohol content, .05% is actually quite a low level, and for many NH motorists, one or two drinks with a dinner might result in a DWI charge if they were pulled over by a police officer on their way home afterwards.

Although this plan has been bandied about by researchers, it appears as though there is currently little effort being made to implement such new restrictions. However, particular groups, like the National Transportation Safety Bureau, believe that the future of DWI law may be headed this way. In May of 2013, the NTSB released a report encouraging states to lower their current BAC standards in order to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by intoxicated motorists; however, this report has been met with strong resistance.

What is certain is that, if you have suffered injuries or the death of a loved one involved in a drunk driving accident, then you should retain the services of an experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney to find out more about the types of compensation you are entitled too. Recovery from any sort of serious automobile accident is a long, arduous process, but knowing that you and your loved ones are provided for can assist in alleviating some of this burden. For a free consultation regarding a potential claim, please contact our law offices today.

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