New Hampshire Personal Injury Law and Proportioning Fault

Negligence is the crux of a personal injury case.  In order to receive compensation for personal injuries, an injured person has the burden of proving negligence on the part the defendant – for example, the other driver. In order to prove negligence under New Hampshire personal injury law, an injured plaintiff must show that:

  • the defendant driver owed him or her a duty;
  • this duty was breached; and
  • 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

personal injury lawIn New Hampshire negligence 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.  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.

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.

Causation and Damages

In New Hampshire, 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.  Tort law sometimes refers to foreseeable cause as the “zone of danger” which the injured plaintiff must be in for negligence to exist.

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 include compensation for permanent injury, pain and suffering, aggravation and inconvenience, psychological and psychiatric harm, loss of earning capacity, and loss of companionship or consortium (i.e. spousal support).  Again, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that these damages were proximately caused by the accident, and proving these types of damages often requires expert testimony at trial.

Plaintiff’s Comparative Negligence in New Hampshire

New Hampshire personal injury law penalizes personal injury 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 slightly exceeding the speed limit, violating a traffic law, or engaging in some type of distracted driving.

New Hampshire, like some other 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’s modified comparative negligence scheme, an injured plaintiff’s permissible damages are lessened 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 available damages.  New Hampshire’s modified comparative negligence scheme is codified as part of the state statute.

Contact a New Hampshire Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you have been injured in a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident and sustained any of the types of injuries discussed above, it is essential that you have competent legal representation from the onset of your case through litigation.  Big insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too. The experienced New Hampshire personal injury law attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC are ready to represent you immediately.  Call (603) 624-7200 today for an initial consultation.

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Experienced, Knowledgeable & Personally Committed to Justice

Do You Know the Warning Signs of NH Nursing Home Abuse?

As U.S. Population Ages, Reports of Nursing Home Abuse also on the Rise

Protect the elderly in your life by learning the signs of NH nursing home abuse

National data on cases of abuse in America’s 15,600-plus nursing homes and other elder-care programs is hard to come by. But several recent studies by government investigators, advocacy groups and the news media have chilling implications.

According to the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS), 14,258 (7.6 percent) of approximately 188,599 complaints reported to state ombudsman programs in 2014 involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation. Another study of nursing home staff throughout the country found that 36 percent had witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10 percent committed at least one act of physical abuse, and 40 percent admitted to committing psychological abuse. It gets worse: A CNN special investigation aired in February found that the federal government cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of sexual assault and abuse from 2013 to 2016.

Given that 1.4 million aging adults already live in nursing homes and that the number of Americans 65-plus will double from 2010 to 2050, this issue will only become more pressing.

Keep a Watchful Eye

NH Nursing Home Abuse
Financial abuse is often overlooked, costing older Americans more than $36 billion a year. Click on chart for full view.

NH nursing home abuse can encompass a wide range of behaviors, including physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse and neglect. Beyond the physical scars left by abuse, neglect and mistreatment have dangerous effects on the quality of life left to an aging person. Elders who have been abused have a higher risk of early death compared to those who have not been mistreated. If your loved ones are in a nursing home or other elder care program, watch for these warning signs:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Bruising, cuts or welts
  • Bed sores
  • Frequent infections
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Mood swings and emotional outbursts or unusual depression
  • Reclusiveness or refusal to speak
  • Refusal to eat or take medications
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness
  • Caregivers that do not want the patient to be left alone with others
  • Sudden changes in financial situation or missing personal items

Protect Your Most Vulnerable Loved Ones

For a family member or caregiver choosing a care facility, the risk of abuse can be overwhelming and traumatic. The best way to prevent New Hampshire elder abuse is to choose the right care facility, which is not always easy given location or financial constraints. Nevertheless, here are factors to consider:

  • Talk to residents or other patients. Observe their physical well-being and behavior. Also visit with residents’ families if possible, and learn whether they have experienced problems with the facility.
  • Avoid facilities that have restricted access.
  • Meet with key personnel (nurses, aides, social workers, administrators and doctors).
  • Read contracts carefully before signing and look for a forced arbitration clause. The rights of your loved one may be denied even if they are abused.
  • Visit frequently. Vary your visits to different times of the day and evening to assess the care provided during the day, night, weekends and holidays.
  • Trust your gut. Pay attention to whether residents appear clean, well fed and free of bruises or other wounds. Also note if the environment is peaceful and feels safe.
  • Document in writing the details about any problems or concerns.
  • Compare facilities. Look up state survey reports here.

Contact NH Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

Before pursuing  a civil action for institutional elder abuse, it is important to objectively evaluate the facts of the case. The NH Nursing Home Injury Attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC provide aggressive yet caring legal representation to those whose loved ones have been the victims of NH nursing home abuse. Our goal is to help our clients receive full and fair compensation for injuries, including pain and suffering, that have been sustained due to negligent care of the elderly.

If you need help bringing a NH nursing home abuse claim, or have any questions, including needing information about a nursing home requiring the signing of a forced arbitration clause, we are available to help. There are no up-front costs for our services. All NH personal injury 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 “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.

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