New Hampshire Personal Injury Law and Proportioning Fault

New Hampshire Personal Injury Lawyers: “What is Negligence?”

Negligence is defined as “the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another” and is the crux of a New Hampshire personal injury case.  In order to receive compensation for personal injuries suffered in a motor vehicle collision, an injured person (known as the “plaintiff”) has the burden of proving negligence on the part the person being sued (known as the “defendant”) – usually, the other driver.

In order to prove negligence in a New Hampshire personal injury case, an injured plaintiff must show that the defendant driver owed him or her a duty; that this duty was breached; and that breach of this duty factually and legally resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries and damages (including both economic and non-economic damages).

Duty and Breach

In New Hampshire personal injury cases, a defendant’s duty is measured by the standard of a reasonable person.  In the case of personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, the injured plaintiff must show that the defendant driver owed a duty to the injured plaintiff (and all other drivers on the roadway) to act as a reasonably prudent driver under the same or similar circumstances. “Same or similar circumstances” means that a defendant driver’s duty is “fluid,” depending upon environmental circumstances like traffic volume, weather, and other external forces.

For example, a defendant may have a duty to drive slower when road conditions are bad or if driving through an area where there are a lot of pedestrians or children present. These factors are taken into consideration when determining whether or not a defendant driver breached the duty of care owed to the injured plaintiff and other drivers on the roadway.  The injured plaintiff must ordinarily be able to prove this breach to prevail in a personal injury case and receive monetary compensation.

Defendant’s Admission of Fault vs. Taking Responsibility

In some cases where the defendant driver’s insurance company is not contesting fault (i.e. where the insurance company concedes that its driver caused the accident), it may “admit” to satisfying the duty and breach elements of negligence.  In many cases, a plaintiff’s lawyer will insist that the defense lawyer stipulate to this admission in writing – especially if the case has a good chance of proceeding to trial. Although a defendant may “admit” fault for collision, this is not the same at taking responsibility.

In fact, when this is done and the case proceeds to trial anyway it is because the defendant (or his/her insurance company) is still failing to accept financial responsibility for all the harms and losses which were caused by the defendant’s conduct. The admission of fault is often done simply because the defendant wants to avoid the jury hearing about what he or she did wrong, with the hope that this might result in a smaller verdict.

Causation and Damages

In a New Hampshire personal injury case, an injured plaintiff must ordinarily show that the defendant driver’s breach of duty was both the factual cause and legal (foreseeable) cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.  In addition to causation, the plaintiff must have suffered damages – usually in the form of personal injuries.  These damages are classified into two main types:  economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those damages that can be measured numerically – such as medical bills, physical therapy bills, and compensation for missed time from work (also known as lost wages).  The injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the treatment, bills, and lost wages are the proximate result of injuries sustained in the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering; aggravation and inconvenience, psychological and psychiatric harm, loss of earning capacity, and loss of companionship or consortium (i.e. spousal support).  The value of these losses can be difficult to determine, but are often far greater than the non-economic damages as this is the category of damages within which the jury is compensating a plaintiff for the change in the plaintiff’s ability (whether for a period of time or permanently) to live and enjoy life in the same what that he or she once did. Again, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that these damages were proximately caused by the accident.

Plaintiff’s Contributory and Comparative Negligence in New Hampshire

New Hampshire personal injury law penalizes plaintiffs when the evidence shows that they somehow caused or contributed to the accident in which they sustained their injuries.  Examples of contributing to an accident might include exceeding the speed limit, violating a traffic law, or engaging in some type of distracted driving, IF this conduct contributed to the accident.

New Hampshire, like most states in the country, uses a modified comparative negligence scheme – otherwise known as the “51% Rule.”  Under this rule, an injured plaintiff’s contributory negligence does not completely bar his or her recovery, so long as the plaintiff’s negligence was not greater than the defendant’s.  Under New Hampshire personal injury law, a judge will reduce an injured plaintiff’s damages (the total amount of the damages as determined by a jury) in proportion to his or her amount of negligence. For example, if a defendant driver was 75% at fault for the accident, and the injured plaintiff contributed 25% to the accident, then the injured plaintiff is only entitled to recover 75% of the damages found by the jury.

Contact the New Hampshire Personal Injury Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman

If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the New Hampshire personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman, PLLC. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 239-2427, email us at info@manningzimmermanlaw.com, or contact us by using the “request a free consultation” feature on our website.

Injury Attorneys NH Provide Online Guidelines

More than Half of Americans Admit Social Media Remorse

injury attorneys nh
Over half of Americans regret something they’ve posted online. Click on photo to see survey.

The average adult now spends more than nine hours per day consuming media via screen, including smartphone, television, gaming or e-books. Twenty percent of that time is dedicated to social media. As too many of us have found out the hard way, all this time online can come with a price. As we click, scroll and post into 2017, protect yourself and your kids from these social media pitfalls.

Heed the Top Seven Ways Using Social Media Can Get You Fired

According to the injury attorneys NH at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, more employers are looking at social media to screen potential candidates and monitor employees. More than 90 percent of employers use social media for recruiting, and three in four hiring managers check candidates’ social profiles before an interview. Maintaining a professional social media profile for your chosen career can help you get that dream job as well as keep it. Twenty-eight percent of employers have fired workers because they spent too much work time on social media, and 18 percent because of an offensive post.

Here are the top seven social media no-no’s for employees:
1. Make racist, sexist or other offensive comments
2. Complain about your job or your clients
3. Share confidential information
4. Post something inappropriate on company social media
5. Use personal social media when you should be working
6. Post drunk photos from work gatherings
7. Broadcast your job search

Excess Screen Time Equals Health Issues

Screen time, whether in front of a computer, tablet or smartphone, can contribute to health issues in adults and children alike. Many hours spent in front of screens are causing an increase in headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and eye strain.

injury attorneys nh

Staring at a smartphone also creates what doctors call “text neck.” As a person bends their neck to look down at a phone, the added weight causes pressure, pain and strain. Here are some ways to keep your screen time (and your children’s) in check and your body healthy:

1. Schedule children for regular eye exams
2. Take frequent breaks
3. Adjust for proper alignment. A digital screen should be centered and positioned about 4 to 5 inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches from the center of the screen to the eyes (for an adult), 18 to 26 inches for a child
4. Use anti-glare screens or position screens to avoid glare
5. LCD and high-res screens are easier on the eyes. Screen brightness should be adjusted to fit the surroundings
6. Blink frequently to keep your eyes moist

Parents can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics for guidance on how to balance lifestyle with digital media and create a personalized family plan.

When Social Media Turns Anti-Social

Many people can navigate a healthy social media presence with intelligence and sense, but some are struggling to stay connected while staying safe. Kids are more likely to share personal details without thinking about the consequences, and connect with strangers who may be predatory. Recently, anonymous messaging apps like Kik have come under fire for allowing minors to message with strangers without alerting parents. Our injury attorneys NH encourage you to check out the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) OnGuard Online website for free online security tips and resources.

Finally, the most important way to protect your kids from unsafe online behavior is to keep the lines of face-to-face communication open. Talk to them about the potential dangers and encourage them to speak to you if they ever feel unsafe online. As reliance on screens increases, so will the need for honest, IRL (your teen will tell you that means “in real life”) conversations about what can or should be shared.

Contact Experienced Injury Attorneys NH

If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the injury attorneys NH at the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman, PLLC. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 624-7200.

Attorney Michaila Oliveira Joins Manning & Zimmerman

nh divorce attorney
Attorney Michaila Oliveira

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Jan. 9, 2017 – – The Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC is pleased to announce that Michaila Oliveira has joined the firm as an associate attorney. A graduate of the prestigious Daniel Webster Scholar program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Attorney Oliveira served as a judicial intern with the New Hampshire Family Division. Attorney Oliveira focuses her practice on all areas of family law, including divorce, parenting rights, post-divorce modification and enforcement, guardianships, restraining orders, and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in New Hampshire federal and state courts and is a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the Merrimack County Bar Association, the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association, and the New Hampshire Association for Justice.

The Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC is a personal injury and family law firm located in the historic district of Manchester, New Hampshire. The firm is committed to representing those who have been injured through no fault of their own, as well as those needing representation in divorce and family law matters.

Founding partners Maureen Raiche Manning and Anna Goulet Zimmerman have a combined 50 years of practice in the law and each has served a term as president of the New Hampshire Association for Justice. Attorney Manning, who was the inaugural president of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association, is a faculty member at the Keenan Ball Trial College where she instructs other attorneys in trial, advocacy, and settlement skills. Attorney Zimmerman is the author of Divorce in the Trenches,  a guide to military divorces, published in the Bar Journal of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Contact New Hampshire Family Law Attorney Michaila Oliveira

Attorney Oliveira may be reached at (603) 624-7200, by email at info@manningzimmermanlaw.com, or by selecting the “contact us” feature on the firm’s website.

 

NH personal injury attorneys

New Hampshire Injury Lawyers: What Is My Case Worth?

The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC are frequently asked how we determine what is fair compensation for a case. In other words, how do we determine what a personal injury case is worth? The answer to this question varies as every personal injury case is unique. However, we wanted to provide our readers with an explanation for how damages are generally calculated in a New Hampshire personal injury case.

Compensatory Damages

Different types of damages exist in every personal injury case, whether the victim was injured as a result of an automobile collision, a dog bite, a workplace accident, or any other type of personal injury. Compensatory damages are amounts of money that directly compensate the injured victim for the physical and financial injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing (known as “negligence” in the law). Compensatory damages include medical bills from physicians and other medical professionals. Also potentially included within compensatory damages are out-of-pocket charges such as prescription medication costs, mileage costs for traveling to physician appointments, and financial losses that are tied directly to the victim’s injuries (i.e. lost wages).

Pain and suffering is also considered a compensatory damage because the injured victim is being compensated for enduring pain and the loss of enjoyment of life that would not have been suffered without the negligence of those who caused the injuries. In some cases, if the actions of the person who caused the injuries were exceptionally or knowingly negligent, the injured party may be awarded what are known as enhanced damages. For information on enhanced compensatory damages, see this article from Manning & Zimmerman Law.

Two Types of Compensatory Damages

Specific damages

Specific damages are those that can be quantified on paper. For example, if an injured victim goes to the emergency room to receive medical treatment, the bills from the hospital and medical professionals qualify as specific damages. The injured victim would receive a bill showing what treatment was received and the cost of each item. It is very easy to get copies of physician bills, prescription receipts, and medical supplies receipts.

Regarding lost wages, for those who are W-2 employees and unable to work, it is very easy to calculate how much income was lost as a result of the injuries. For those who are not hourly or salaried employees, or have infrequent periods of work or payment, it may be difficult to  prove special damages with their own testimony. The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman may need to hire an expert to calculate what an injured victim’s lost wages are based on. This is generally done by an analysis of an injured person’s past income and the income of those who work a similar job in the area.

The most difficult type of lost wages to calculate and prove is lost opportunities. New Hampshire injury lawyers must be able to prove to a jury or judge that, had a victim not suffered any injuries, they would have been able to accept employment, while also calculating how much income would have been received as a result. Given how difficult this is to prove in a court of law, injury victims are not always guaranteed to recover all of their lost wages unless they are employed on an hourly or salaried basis.

In addition to compensation for past and present specific damages, if the injuries are severe or permanent, a claim may be made for future medical expenses. The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC  can determine future medical expenses when the injured victim’s physician performs a medical evaluation and finds that the injured person will require future medical treatment to maintain their quality of life.

General damages

General damages are those that cannot be assigned a dollar value on paper. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent injury are the most common types of general damages. New Hampshire injury lawyers may present to the jury an amount or a formula for calculating general damages, but ultimately it is up to the “enlightened conscience of an impartial jury” to determine the compensation an injured victim receives for general damages. Also, where a lawsuit goes to trial is very important in determining how much a jury might award a plaintiff for general damages. In New Hampshire, a lawsuit may be filed in the county where either the plaintiff or the defendant(s) reside.

A good rule of thumb (while not infallible) is that general damages will be based loosely on the amount of these types of damages, particular in regard to medical bills. The amount of pain and suffering also depends on the severity of the victim’s injuries. Juries award more general pain and suffering damages to those who, for example, lose a limb, than those who experience six months of neck and back pain.

It can be a very complex process to determine the value of personal injury cases. Often the true value of a personal injury claim cannot be assessed until the injured victim has received the bulk of their medical treatment. Medical providers must determine the full extent of a victim’s injuries and provide that information to the injured person’s New Hampshire injury lawyers via bills and medical records.

Contact the New Hampshire Injury Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman

If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman, PLLC. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 624-7200, email us at info@manningzimmermanlaw.com, or contact us by using the chat feature on our website.