New Hampshire Personal Injury FAQs
With decades of experience in the practice of personal injury law in New Hampshire, our personal injury attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman have handled just about every kind of case and every kind of client. We know what questions you are likely to have, and we are always here for you with the answers. See below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get, and call our office if you’ve been injured in a car accident or suffered some other personal injury in Manchester, Concord, Nashua or anywhere in New Hampshire.
Q. Can I file a claim against the negligent driver who hit me if I am also partially at fault in causing the accident?
A. Under New Hampshire’s law of comparative negligence, you can still bring a claim so long as you are not more at fault than the other party or parties involved in the accident. In other words, you can recover compensation if your portion of fault is 50% or less than the total amount of blame allocated for the crash. However, any award of damages you achieve will be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to you.
Insurance companies will try to heap as much blame as they can on you to minimize their payout, which is why you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side who can argue the facts of the accident and keep you from being unfairly blamed. Ultimately, a jury would decide who is to blame for the crash and how much responsibility each party bears. At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, our Manchester personal injury lawyers have vast experience litigating cases all the way to a jury verdict if necessary to get you the best result in your case.
Q. How long do I have to file a claim or lawsuit after an accident?
A. An insurance claim should be filed very soon after the accident to aid in the investigation and processing of the claim and avoid any challenges to the validity of the claim. If a lawsuit needs to be filed in your case, you’ll typically have up to three years from the date of the accident. This “statute of limitations” gives you time to receive medical treatment and heal as much as possible. You want to know all of your medical bills and all the ways the accident has and will affect your life before settling your claim or filing a lawsuit.
You’ll still need to get an attorney on board sooner rather than later, because your lawyer will need time to prepare, and once the statute of limitations passes, it can be difficult or impossible to bring a case. Also, in some instances, the time you have to file suit may be much shorter than the standard three years. For example, if your claim involves a government employee, public property or public transportation, you must bring a claim within six months from the accident. An experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney will know the appropriate statute of limitations and ensure your claim or lawsuit is filed on time.
Q. What if the driver who hit me didn’t have any insurance?
A. If you have liability insurance of your own, then you also have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage as well. With UM coverage, your insurance company should pay your damages when an uninsured driver strikes you. However, just because you are dealing with “your” insurance company in this situation, don’t make the mistake of accepting a settlement without talking to a lawyer first. The insurance company will still try to downplay your claim and pay you less than you are due if you don’t have a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer representing you.
Q. What if I’m injured in a hit and run and can’t find the driver?
A. Your UM coverage applies to hit and run car accidents the same as if the driver was known but uninsured. Talk to the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman about filing an uninsured motorist claim after a Manchester hit and run car accident.
Q. Will the insurance company pay if their driver was drunk?
A. It is a common misconception that liability insurance will not cover a situation when the person who caused the accident was driving drunk. Even though the person may have intentionally been drinking and chosen to drive, the crash itself is still an “accident” caused by negligence and is typically covered by insurance. In addition, New Hampshire RSA 507-F:4 states that “A defendant who negligently serves alcoholic beverages to a minor or to an intoxicated person is liable for resulting damages.” This law can apply to a bar or restaurant that overserves a patron or serves a minor without checking for ID, and it may even apply to social hosts of parties in some cases. At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, we thoroughly investigate every case and pursue claims against all appropriate parties to get the best results for our clients.
Q. Can I get punitive damages from the person responsible for a personal injury?
A. Punitive damages are a category of damages meant to punish the defendant, in contrast to compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate injury victims for their economic and noneconomic losses. New Hampshire courts do not award punitive damages in most cases, but they may award “enhanced compensatory damages” if the defendant’s conduct was wanton, malicious or oppressive. Examples might include sexual assaults, dog bites where the owner trained the dog to be aggressive or called for the attack, or car accidents caused by severely drunk drivers. Enhanced compensatory damages are only awarded in exceptional cases, but our attorneys put in the extra time and effort to seek these damages whenever appropriate.