nh personal injury attorney

NH Personal Injury Attorney: Overcoming Common Tort Defenses

Common Defenses in Injury Claims

If you are suing a defendant for personal injury or medical malpractice, the defendant will likely try to derail your case by raising one or more defenses. It is important that you have an experienced NH personal injury attorney at Manning & Zimmerman to assist you in overcoming common defenses, and recovering fair compensation for your losses.

Defendants Attempt to Avoid Liability

A defendant may try to avoid liability by arguing that you are at fault for your own injuries, a legal doctrine known as comparative fault. In a negligence case, the defense may try to argue that the plaintiff is at least partially at fault for his or her own injuries. For example, if you sued a defendant for negligence after you were injured by a car driven by the defendant, the defendant may claim that you are at least partially at fault for your injuries because you failed to notice the defendant’s car or because you were driving above the speed limit.

Defendants Claim That Plaintiff Assumed Risk

Similarly, a defendant may raise the defense of assumption of risk. If you sued a defendant for negligence after you were injured as a pedestrian by the defendant’s car, the defendant may argue that you assumed the risk of being hit by a car by walking outside of the crosswalk. A seasoned NH personal injury attorney will be able to assist you in addressing these defenses, and admitting if you do have some percentage of fault which contributed to the collision. A skilled NH personal injury attorney will utilize legal processes, such as depositions, to develop a record of strong evidence and even obtain the defendant’s admission of liability.

Defendants Minimize the Plaintiff’s Injuries

Despite your daily pain and suffering, a defendant may try to argue that your injuries are non-existent or insufficient to warrant any compensation. For example, if you suffered from severe back pain after slipping and falling on the defendant’s premises, the defendant may argue that you should not be compensated for your injuries because you did not break or fracture any bones.

Defendants Argue Failure to Mitigate Damages

A defendant may also raise the defense that you failed to mitigate your damages. Generally, a person who is injured by the actions of another person has the responsibility to lessen the effects and loss related to his or her injuries. For example, if you were injured by a defendant but delayed medical treatment for your injuries, the defendant may argue that you failed to mitigate your damages and should not be compensated (conversely, in some cases where there is no delay, the defendant will argue that you should have just given your injuries some time to resolve on their own).

Defendants Claim Injuries Pre-Existed Accident

A defendant may also try to avoid liability by arguing that your injuries pre-existed the accident. For example, if you sustained a herniated disc after a collision with the defendant’s car, the defendant may argue that your back pain was caused by an unrelated slip-and-fall that occurred prior to the accident. An experienced NH personal injury attorney will help gather and present any medical evidence that supports you claim.

Defendants Claims Sovereign Immunity

If you are suing a state employee or agency for your injuries, the state may raise the defense of sovereign immunity. State officials and employees are immune from liability under certain circumstances. There are several rules that apply to claims against state, municipalities, and employees of these entities. A skilled NH personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the complex rules governing claims against the governmental entities.

Call Manning & Zimmerman For a Free Consultation

Despite a defendant’s attempt to avoid responsibility, if you were injured by a defendant’s negligence or fault, you deserve to be properly compensated. An experienced NH personal injury attorney at Manning & Zimmerman will prepare your case and respond to unfounded arguments being presented by the defendant in an effort to avoid accepting responsibility.

How Much Is My Motorcycle Injury Case Worth?

motorcycle injury caseWith Spring finally arriving in New Hampshire, the weather is warmer and the days are longer – and motorcyclists are taking to our state’s roadways. All motorists are reminded to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles, to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists and their passengers safe, and to avoid causing a motorcycle injury case.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high-performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that per mile traveled in 2013, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 26 times the number in cars.

Before setting off on what should be a fun and safe ride,  be sure to take the time to educate yourself about how to avoid a motorcycle accident in the first place. There are plenty of things you can do to educate yourself on how to avoid motorcycle accidents and we are pleased to share this article from the folks at Best Motorcycle Jackets.

What are the factors you should consider when evaluating what your motorcycle accident case is worth?

Motorcycle accidents are unique and results will depend on the facts of your case, but here are the most influential factors.  Your personal injury lawyer in Manchester NH at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can also be an excellent source of valuation information.

Actual costs

Actual costs are the real costs that you incur as a result of your motorcycle injury.  These are similar to car accident damages.  Damages such as lost wages or earning capacity, the reasonable value of medical bills, vehicle damage, and related expenses are certain damages which are relatively easy to prove.  Make sure that you have all of your paperwork to prove your damages.

Subjective costs

Subjective costs refer to damages, such as pain and suffering, and are harder to quantify for purposes of settlement.  A motorcycle injury case attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can help give you a range of pain and suffering damages so that you have an understanding of what your case is worth.  It is important when detailing your pain and suffering damages, that you give a clear picture of how your life was affected.  For example, if you were an active person before the accident and are no longer able to be physically active because of the limitations from your motorcycle injury, details as to your loss of enjoyment of life and your life before and after the accident can help you obtain a bigger settlement.

Evidence of the defendant’s fault in a motorcycle injury case

Whether you can prove that the defendant was at fault in your motorcycle injury case will significantly increase your chances of a higher monetary recovery.  For example, if you have evidence that the defendant was driving too fast or ran a red light or was otherwise not observing traffic laws, establishing liability becomes much easier and the chances of a larger monetary recovery increase.  Evidence such as witness statements, police reports, and traffic cams can be used to prove a defendant’s fault in your motorcycle injury case.

Whether the defendant can afford to pay on a jury award

Whether the defendant can afford to pay the total a jury may award is another consideration when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer.  If the defendant has no assets or ability to pay on a judgment, then your attorney may advise you to accept an offer from their insurance within policy limits.  Conversely, if the defendant has assets which you can collect upon, it may increase a settlement offer or your chances with a jury.  Your attorney can advise you as to whether it is worth collecting against a defendant’s assets and how long it would take to collect on a judgment as opposed to accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer.

How your case will look to a jury

Juries are comprised of human beings, each with their own ideas about motorcycle accidents, perceptions of trials and litigants, and values.  How you will present to a jury, how the defendant will present to the jury, and how the facts of your case will present to a jury can factor into what a jury will award you and whether the defendant’s or the insurance company’s settlement offer is the best choice for you.  Your personal injury lawyer is your best choice for guidance in this area.  An experienced personal injury lawyer in Manchester NH can value your case and give you a realistic idea of what to expect with a jury and how that can help your case.

Do you want to have your case tried before a jury?

When deciding whether to accept a settlement offer in your motorcycle injury case, you do have to ask yourself whether you really want to go to trial and whether this is something that you can handle.  Some personal injury claimants relish the idea of taking their chances in court while other claimants would not want to go to trial under any circumstances.  Ask yourself honestly whether you want to go through the trial process.  There is no right or wrong answer.

Jury verdicts and settlements in your courthouse

There is a considerable amount of motorcycle injury case data available on jury verdicts and settlements in New Hampshire.  It is worth reviewing those jury verdicts and settlements to get an accurate understanding of what juries tend to award in a motorcycle injury case. Your personal injury attorney can give you a reasonable, well-researched idea of what to expect from jury verdicts and settlements in New Hampshire.

Call Experienced Motorcycle Injury Case Attorneys

Big companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by an insurance company, the NH personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can help. When representing injured victims, we are only paid for our services when we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 239-2459, email us at info@manningzimmermanlaw.com, or contact us by using the “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.

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NH Attorneys: What is “Discovery”?

NH Attorneys: “Discovery” in Injury Claims

You may have heard NH attorneys throw around the word “discovery” or tell you that your case is in the discovery stage. What exactly does this fancy word mean? Discovery is the process by which your attorney and the opposing counsel’s attorney (the “parties”) gather information and evidence about the case to help prepare for trial. Inevitably, the opposing counsel will find out certain facts about your case that you may not have wanted them to know, but the bright side is that your NH attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman will also collect material that will help your case. How is this done? Basically, there are five tools attorneys use to gather this material: interrogatories, requests for disclosure, requests for admissions, requests for production, and depositions.

Interrogatories

Interrogatories are written questions between both parties. These are questions that are tailored to the facts of the individual case. These request tend to be broader than other discovery requests, such as where did the accident occur, what injuries did you sustain, or when did you last have contact with so-and-so. These requests are usually limited in number. The responses to these questions will help the opposing attorney narrow down issues and strategize on how he/she might contest your case trial.

Requests for Disclosure

Requests for disclosure are similar to interrogatories, as they are also written questions. These are usually for specific information that the Courts have determined should be exchanged in civil cases. Examples might include disclosure of any witnesses, experts, or parties with relevant information, the amount of restitution/damages the other party is seeking, and copies of all medical records. This gives the attorney an idea of the opposing counsel’s game plan for trial, which of course allows the attorney to plan and prepare counter-arguments.

Requests for Admissions

Requests for admissions are written questions asking the other party to admit or deny certain allegations or the truth of a specific matter. For example, NH attorneys may ask the other party to admit or deny whether he/she was wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident. These requests simplify for the trial by eliminating matters about which there is no real controversy. The biggest threat with requests for admissions comes when a party does not admit or deny by the deadline to respond to such requests (generally within 30 days of being served). When this happens, the requests are automatically deemed admitted for all purposes! The responding party may state that they neither admit nor deny a request but must give a reason for doing so, such as they do not have proper information to respond or need to make a reasonable inquiry.

Requests for Production

Requests for production are written questions propounded asking a party to produce particular documents or tangible evidence. This may include requests to inspect certain tangible evidence or documents. Any requests must specify which documents or evidence needs to be produced and the place for production. The opposing party has the responsibility to produce such documents/evidence or to make them available. Examples of certain requests would be requesting copies of insurance or indemnity agreements, phone records, health records, etc. There may be possible privacy or confidentiality objections to certain requests depending on whether it is relevant to the case.

Depositions

Depositions are probably the most nerve-wracking of the discovery processes, because it requires the client or witness being deposed to be present. A deposition is a sworn testimony, usually conducted in person or occasionally by video/phone conference. It is much like an interview, where the attorney gets to ask questions. Usually depositions are stenographically recorded and sometimes even videotaped. NH attorneys may request to depose the other party/client or witnesses. This is a useful tool in gathering information. As a client, you may be deposed by opposing counsel. Your attorney will generally meet with you ahead of time to help you understand the process. It is alright to tell opposing counsel that you do not know the answer to a question or to ask for clarification, but you must respond to all questions asked unless your attorney makes an objection. Usually NH attorneys may only make limited objections at depositions, such as based on harassment or privilege.

New Hampshire Injury Lawyer

New Hampshire Injury Lawyer: Valuing Damages in an Injury Case

In personal injury cases, the term ‘damages’ refers to the amount of money that should be paid to an injured party (or plaintiff) who suffered harm due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional act of the defendant.  It is intended to make the plaintiff whole after the incident and put the plaintiff in the position they would have been if they had not been injured.

Valuing your personal injury case is an essential part of your injury claim.  It is often hard to put a dollar figure on an injury if it involves, for example, pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life – although these losses can be very significant.  Many injury victims consult with a New Hampshire injury lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC to discuss what their case is worth and how personal injury damages work.  Fortunately, personal injury damages can be categorized and simplified to give you a better understanding of the injury claims process and your real case value.  An experienced New Hampshire injury lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman can help in valuing your case so that you can make informed decisions about any settlement offers or court proceedings.

General and Special Damages

The two categories of losses in your personal injury case are general and special damages (often called non-economic and economic damages).

General damages are those damages which flow naturally from a claimant’s injury.  For example, if you were injured in a car crash, the defendant should be responsible for all injuries you sustained.  In addition, if you had a pre-existing injury which was worsened by the crash caused by the defendant, the defendant should be held responsible for those damages as well.

These are the types of general damages in a personal injury case.

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Physical impairment
  • Mental anguish or emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Lowered quality of life

Computing general damages depends on the type of injury you have sustained and the nature and extent of your injuries.   What a jury will award and what you could be awarded in a settlement varies depending upon the facts of each case.  An experienced New Hampshire injury lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman can guide you through the damages valuation process and give you a realistic idea of what your case is worth.

Special damages refer to your actual out of pocket damages, such as medical bills or time off work, because of your injuries.  These are more readily quantifiable. Each personal injury case is different as to what type of special damages a personal injury claimant can claim, but these are the categories of special damages that you can expect in a personal injury case.

  • Repair and replacement of damaged property
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Loss of irreplaceable items
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Any limitation on ability to work because of the accident or injury

It is important that you quantify these damages.  For example, if your car was totaled in a car crash and you had to take time off work to recover from your injuries, it would be important to have a verifiable value for your vehicle, your medical bills, and evidence of lost wages as evidence in your case.  The use of experts or documentary evidence is helpful in presenting your special damages.  A New Hampshire injury lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can advise you as to what is the best evidence to prove your claims.

When reviewing your personal injury claims, it is helpful and advisable to have an experienced New Hampshire injury lawyer assess the value of your case.  It will help you make informed decisions about your case and how to proceed.

 

NH Injury Attorneys Discuss Forced Arbitration

NH Injury Attorneys: Forced Arbitration Is Forced Injustice

Dean Cole photo compressed 2_0

 

Dean Cole’s family tried holding a Minnesota nursing home accountable in court after he died of neglect, but they were forced into arbitration where the truth was hidden from the public. His story here.

Harassed, Assaulted and Then Dismissed

Tia thought she was taking a step forward when she became a manager-in-training at electronics giant Circuit City. Instead she endured months of sexual harassment by her boss, who at one point exposed his genitals to her. He was also captured on video grabbing Tia’s hand and parading her around the store as she tried to escape.

But the worst was yet to come. When Tia filed a sexual harassment claim against the chain, her lawsuit was thrown out of court because of a legal time bomb in her employment contract called a forced arbitration clause. Circuit City went out of business while Tia was in arbitration and her case was dropped.

A “Get Out of Jail Free” Card for Corporations

According to the NH injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, Tia is among a growing number of Americans learning about forced arbitration clauses the hard way. Thousands of businesses, from credit card companies, banks and investment firms to cell phone providers, schools and nursing homes, are inserting legalese into employment contracts and service agreements called “forced,” “binding” or “mandatory arbitration.” When something goes wrong – and in some cases terribly wrong – the customer, renter, homeowner, resident, patient, employee, etc., is forced into arbitration. And that’s when the bomb goes off!

Individuals almost always lose to businesses in arbitration (97 percent of the time according to a 2007 Public Citizen report) because arbitrators are hired and hand picked by the offending businesses. Decisions from the arbitration proceedings are secret, and there is no appeal. Most forced arbitration clauses also include a ban on class-action lawsuits as well, preventing consumers from joining forces to fight wrongdoing. A recent investigative series by the New York Times called forced arbitration “a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations,” and quoted state judges who called it a “get out of jail free” card.

A Short But Disturbing History

The use of forced arbitration clauses is a relatively new tactic developed by a Wall Street-led coalition of credit card companies and retailers. Their goal, according to interviews with coalition members and court records, was simple: find a way to legally insulate businesses from lawsuits. Consumers and advocacy groups eventually cried foul and challenged the use of forced arbitration clauses and the ban on class-action lawsuits. But in 2011 and again in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld forced arbitration. With the floodgates now open, the use of forced arbitration clauses exploded far beyond the financial services industry and is now found in everything from daycare and dog sitting services to cable television and funeral homes.

Alan & JavierAlan (l.) and other business owners couldn’t challenge American Express for charging exorbitant fees. Javier (r.) shouldn’t have lost his job while on deployment. Their stories here.

How Do You Fight Back?

You can learn how to identify arbitration clauses before you sign a contract or click the little box next to “I agree to these terms and conditions.” You can then take your business elsewhere. However, this option isn’t always practical if you want cell phone service, for example, or need a new job. Your other option is to support efforts by some lawmakers, government agencies and consumer advocacy groups to stem the tide of forced arbitration. Here’s a few:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a government agency that protects consumer rights in the financial services industry. The CFPB recently announced a proposed rule that would ban class-action waivers in service contracts for credit cards, checking accounts and other financial services. Right now the CFPB wants to hear from the public on this proposal. Go here to add your comments and support the ban on these restrictive waivers.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is also working on a similar provision, which would forbid mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.
  • The Department of Education has recently announced it’s considering a proposal that would prohibit colleges from including mandatory arbitration clauses in their enrollment contracts with students.
  • U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) have introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would do away with forced arbitration clauses in contracts that ban class-action in employment, consumer, antitrust or civil rights disputes. To voice your support of this legislation, sign our petition at Take Justice Back.

If you have suffered an injury due to another’s negligence, contact the NH injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC at (603) 624-7200. As always, initial consultations are free.