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.
How to Cope With the Legal Aftermath Of a Car Accident
There are two sounds that no parent should ever be required to hear: the thump of their child being struck by an automobile and an emergency responder describing their young one as “the victim”. Unfortunately, this scenario is played out all too often across the state of New Hampshire. Depending upon the severity of the accident, it can result in serious injury, lengthy recovery periods, and significant medical expenses.
Collisions involving pedestrians and automobiles are on the rise, particularly in hit and run scenarios. In fact, one might begin to wonder if we will see a reversal in the decline of highway injuries and fatalities. Consider this fact: In the year 1973, then Governor Meldrim Thomson visited Berlin to present an award to the city for incurring no pedestrian fatalities the prior year. In those days, statistics were not kept, but in modern times, pedestrian deaths are considerably rarer.
There are two primary contributing elements to this scenario. Fewer individuals walk than use too, and pedestrians who walk regularly enjoy a number of new safety features, such as better designed road systems and crosswalks. However, there is another form of advancement that could potentially be working against us. Our ability to be continuously connected is distracting motorists from being attentive and alert motorists. Many New Hampshire personal injury attorneys have seen the number of such cases they’ve handled in recent years rise considerably.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently heard an appeal from a defendant who had been sentenced to 3.5 to 7 years in prison for his role in an automobile accident that left the victim with a traumatic brain injury. In this particular scenario, the defendant had been reading a text message (something not explicitly banned in New Hampshire’s laws regarding texting while driving). The Supreme Court is expected to render its decision soon, but focus groups state that most juries tend to automatically assume the worst with regards to distracted motorists.
When an automobile accident occurs between two motorists, there are two related, yet separate, process that occur. Each process is concerned with determining who is at fault for causing the accident and assessing the amount of monetary compensation and/or criminal sanctions the at fault party should be subjected too. Initially, the state of New Hampshire will use the police report and, at a later date, a legal hearing, to decide whether or not any laws were broken and whether or not criminal charges should be brought. However, if this process does not wholly restore the victim (including the coverage of property loss, loss of income, medical expenses, and/or compensation for pain and suffering), then a resolution will be reached through claims filed against both insurance providers.
Liability is governed via the laws of negligence. It is not always one sided or a simple process. Liability is classified as proportional. Let’s say that a distracted motorist strikes a pedestrian who is jaywalking. Since New Hampshire follows a modified comparative fault standard, also known as the 51% rule, a legal court hearing (or several) would be used to calculate the liability percentage of each party. However, if the plaintiff’s liability surpasses the 51% mark, then they cannot recover any monetary compensation for damages at all.
If a New Hampshire motorist is involved in any sort of automobile accident, regardless of how minor it might seem, their immediate first step should be to call local law enforcement to have an official report made. Simply exchanging insurance information and names will not suffice. In accordance with New Hampshire state law, any damages amounting to $1,000.00 or higher must be reported. Far too many individuals fail to have an accident properly documented with a police report. The report should be carefully reviewed and any errors corrected.
Any experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer will advise a motorist involved in an accident to resist the temptation to accept any blame for the accident. A motorist does have a legal obligation to cooperate, and a simple “I’m sorry” can be offered, but verbally, legal liability should not be accepted. Furthermore, if there are any doubts regarding a victim’s health condition, medical treatment should be sought sooner, instead of later.
While the majority of automobile accidents are easily processed by the at fault party’s insurance provider negotiating a settlement on their behalf, there are some that cannot be so readily resolved. In these instances, accurate, reliable records are required to encourage a settlement or to proceed to court.
The worst thing a plaintiff can do in a personal injury case is to lie to an insurance provider or police officers. What New Hampshire motorists must remember is that insurance providers do not work for them. Whether it is the provider that insures the motorist who caused the accident or a health insurance company, their ultimate goal is to quickly settle the case and remove any future potential legal liability from their immediate vicinity. Parties involved in an accident should not accept or sign off on a settlement without first seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer. Some injuries require time before they are discovered.
In the meantime, an injured party should be diligent about reviewing and collecting all bills associated with the accident. Bills from ambulance services, insurance providers, and hospitals can come in waves. If an insurance payment is less than the comprehensive insurance payment, the motorist should review their automotive policy. It can often include medical payments.
To find out more about how to adequate settle your personal injury claim, please contact one of our experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorneys today. Because New Hampshire has a three year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, time is of the essence in these cases. Our personal injury lawyers will work closely with you to ensure that you receive the monetary compensation to which you are entitled.
Serving all of New Hampshire. Offices in Nashua, Manchester, Concord, and Portsmouth.
This site does not constitute legal advice. An attorney client relationship is formed only after an agreement is entered into between an Attorney of Liberty Legal and a client is reached. Past results do not guarantee future results.
Disclaimer: Some cases are referred to other law firms with consent of client.
Liberty Legal Services PLLC. Main office: 250 Commercial St #3020 Manchester NH 03101. (603) 262-3196