A serious car accident can disrupt your life in an instant. After the crash, you may not be sure what steps to take, or where to turn for help. An experienced New Hampshire automobile accident lawyer can be your best resource during this difficult time.
Every car accident case is different, so you shouldn’t use this content as a substitute for legal advice. This information is to give you a general idea of what to expect and how personal injury law works in New Hampshire.
Unlike neighboring Massachusetts, New Hampshire is an at-fault state. That means that the default and most common means of recovering damages after a car accident is to pursue compensation from the responsible party. In most cases, it will be the responsible driver’s insurance company negotiating a settlement, fighting the claim in court, and paying out the settlement or verdict.
Generally, a driver or other person is legally responsible for damages if their negligence causes the harm. In legal terms, negligence means that the person or other entity:
So, for example, a driver who rear-ended your car because they were speeding or who veered across the center line because they were under the influence of alcohol would typically be at least partly responsible. That’s because all New Hampshire drivers have a duty to follow traffic safety laws and exercise care not to harm others on the road.
Some common types of negligence that may lead to car accidents include:
Sometimes, more than one person or entity is responsible. For instance, if Driver A cuts quickly into the next lane in front of Driver B without signaling and they collide, Driver A is likely at least partially responsible for the accident, due to cutting too close in front of another car and failing to signal. But, what if Driver B could have avoided the accident, but didn’t react in time because they were distracted watching a video on their cell phone? In that situation, Driver B may also be partially responsible for the accident.
Or, imagine the same scenario above, except that Driver A swerves into Driver B’s lane because Driver C braked suddenly and for no apparent reason in front of them. In this situation, Driver C may share responsibility for the crash, even though they weren’t involved.
If two or more parties negligently (or intentionally) contributed to the accident, the injury victim can likely pursue compensation from both. There’s no double-dipping, though: the court will determine the amount of compensation the victim is entitled to and each responsible party will contribute their share.
If the injured person is partly responsible, they can usually still recover damages, but the percentage attributable to their own negligence will be deducted from the total damages.
Establishing who is responsible and to what degree can be complicated, and often requires the use of expert witnesses. That’s one reason it’s important to work with an attorney who has significant experience with New Hampshire motor vehicle crash cases.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is insurance you purchase from your own auto insurance carrier. This coverage provides compensation if you are injured by a driver who does not have car insurance or doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover your damages. A surprising percentage of drivers in the United States are uninsured, so this type of coverage is important for everyone. But, it’s especially important for a New Hampshire driver, because state law does not require most drivers to carry liability insurance.
If you are hit by an uninsured driver and don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your only recourse will likely be to try to collect directly from the negligent driver. Depending on the driver’s assets, it may be difficult or impossible to collect, or it may take years to get paid.
Damages in a car accident case are based on the actual harm you have suffered. You may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are damages that have a concrete monetary value. Some common examples include:
Economic damages can also include projected future costs or losses, such as anticipated ongoing medical care or a loss in earning capacity if you can’t return to your previous profession. Establishing this type of damages often requires expert analysis and testimony.
You may also be entitled to non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering.
The best source of more detailed information about the compensation that may be available to you is an experienced New Hampshire car accident attorney. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has been helping car accident victims and other injury victims in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for decades. To learn more about how he can help, call 978-459-3085.
The first thing you will want to do after a car accident is call for emergency assistance as needed. You should also make sure to exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver. If you are able, collect contact information from any witnesses. You may also want to take pictures of the scene before emergency services or tow trucks move any of the vehicles.
If you have been injured, or if you are in doubt as to whether or not you have been injured, it is generally best to get checked out by emergency personnel at the scene and consider following up with a doctor as soon as possible. Many people are in shock immediately after an accident and don’t always feel the extent of their injuries, and some minor injuries can get worse over time.
That means you’re taking two risks by skipping or delaying medical care – – you may be aggravating an injury, and you may be hurting your chances of recovering full damages for your injury.
In New Hampshire, a negligent driver or some other person or entity whose negligence contributed to an accident will typically be wholly or partly responsible for damages. For example, a driver who runs a red light and crashes into your car or who rear-ends your vehicle at a stop light because they were driving too fast or following too close will generally be responsible. However, there may be more than one responsible party in a motor vehicle accident. So, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer soon after your accident. A knowledgeable New Hampshire motor vehicle accident attorney can help identify possible responsible parties to give you the best opportunity to receive full compensation.
In New Hampshire, a driver or other person who is partially responsible for their own injury may still recover damages. However, damages will be reduced in proportion to the injured person’s responsibility. For example, if a jury determines that an injured person was 20% responsible for their own injuries, then they can recover, at most, 80% of their total damages.
An injured person who is more than 50% responsible for their own injury is not eligible to recover any damages.
It’s easy to make honest mistakes that can cause you big problems in a car accident case. And, insurance companies know how to lead people into those traps. It’s best not to provide any information to the other driver’s insurance company until you have spoken with a New Hampshire car accident lawyer.
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in New Hampshire is three years. However, it is best to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. Certain types of evidence, such as security camera footage showing the accident or witness accounts, can be lost forever if too much time passes. It may be harder to locate witnesses, and their memories may not be clear. And, in certain types of cases, you may be required to act sooner.
There are many reasons that it is in your best interest to work with an experienced New Hampshire car accident lawyer. An attorney who is knowledgeable about both the substantive law and procedural requirements can ensure that you don’t miss important deadlines, manage aspect of your case that most people have no experience of (such as the discovery process), make sure you have identified all possible responsible parties so you do not lose out on compensation, serve as a buffer between you and the insurance company, and gather the evidence and expert witnesses necessary to build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
A lot of people who have been in car accidents are worried about the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer. Often a serious injury means high medical bills and lost work time. The thought of adding attorney fees to that equation can be discouraging. Fortunately, most car accident law firms–including ours–work on a contingency fee basis. That means the attorneys are paid a percentage of any settlement or verdict you receive in the case. If they don’t secure compensation for you, they don’t get paid.
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. A relatively simple case may settle within a matter of months. In a case where liability is less clear, there are multiple parties involved, or the injuries are serious and damages high, it may take years to resolve the case.
It is impossible to know exactly how much compensation you can expect in connection with your car accident. No attorney can guarantee you a specific settlement or verdict. However, an experienced car accident lawyer can give you a good idea of what types of damages you may be entitled to and how other cases similar to yours have played out.
Some of the most common types of damages you may be able to expect after a serious car accident include compensation for medical expenses, compensation for lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering.
As you can see, there are many issues to be considered in determining who may be responsible for damages after a car accident and establishing negligence on the part of the responsible party. You will also have to prove your damages, including damages that have not yet occurred such as future lost earnings or ongoing medical expenses. This typically requires the assistance of an expert witness.
The sooner you talk with an experienced New Hampshire car accident lawyer, the sooner you can hand off those worries and shift your focus to recovery and rebuilding. To learn more, schedule a free consultation right now by calling 978-459-3085 or filling out the contact form on this page.
You probably have many questions about your vehicle accident. You may be questioning who is financially responsible for damages to your property or the costs of your injuries. Let Attorney Kevin Broderick answer your specific questions and evaluate your case for free today!
The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.