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What Happens When an Uninsured Motorist Causes a Car Crash?

Managing an Uninsured Motorist Claim

New Hampshire is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not require its drivers to carry car insurance. In cases where one driver’s fault causes either property or bodily damage, the driver is required to pay for any expenses that the injured party suffers. The at-fault party’s license is suspended until they can show they can pay for the crash they caused. Sometimes they do this out of pocket. Other times, they come up with a repayment plan. Purchasing car insurance after a crash is another way to cover the costs owed to the injured party.

Have you been in a serious car crash? If so, did it involve bodily injury and/or major damage to your car? In that instance, it helps to have a NH injury lawyer representing you in your uninsured motorist claim against the at-fault party. The Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC has helped numerous New Hampshire motorists recover damages from negligent drivers who either did not carry car insurance or did not carry enough car insurance.

Worst Case Scenario: The Motorist Won’t or Can’t Pay

No insurance system in any state is foolproof, and New Hampshire has its strengths and weaknesses. If an uninsured driver causes a major crash they can prove payment by purchasing car insurance. Their new car insurance policy would cover the difference. But what about situations in which a motorist cannot afford car insurance?

While you can sue the motorist directly and their license won’t be restored until they start paying you for your damages, a motorist who cannot afford to make insurance payments is not a motorist who has a vast quantity of assets. You can sue them and win a verdict. But if they file for bankruptcy, you still may never see very much of the money they owe you. Now what?

This is where having uninsured motorist coverage can be a great asset. This form of insurance covers you in the following three cases:

  • The at-fault driver is uninsured;
  • The at-fault driver does not carry enough coverage to settle your damages;
  • You’re involved in a hit-and-run crash.

When a motorist is uninsured and causes a crash, your uninsured motorist policy pays out. In other words, you make an uninsured motorist claim against your own policy and the insurance company reimburses you for your damages. They can then turn around and sue the at-fault driver for the money they paid to you.

Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The State of New Hampshire requires auto insurance companies to offer Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UMC) in an amount that equals your liability coverage. So if you have a liability coverage of $25,000, the insurance company must offer you a UMC of $25,000. If you carry $75,000 in liability coverage, the insurance company must offer you a UMC of $75,000.

The reason the state has to force insurance companies to offer this insurance is because they would really rather not. Simply put, if forced to pay out should an uninsured motorist causes a crash, it can be difficult to recover that money from the motorist. In many instances, they will look for reasons to deny your uninsured motorist claim.

Are you locked in a battle with an insurance company over a claim? If so, it helps to have a New Hampshire injury lawyer prepare the case for you.

Why? Because insurance companies will go out of their way to deny a claim whenever possible. Every claim you make needs the backing of proof. A Manchester injury attorney at Manning & Zimmerman Law can help you with this process.

Contact a New Hampshire Personal Injury Attorney

If your uninsured motorist claim is denied, you may need the help of an injury attorney to make your case. Don’t leave such decisions to the insurance company’s discretion. For a free consultation, contact the NH injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 605-0547 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com. We may also be contacted by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Compensation for Victims of a Distracted Driver

New Hampshire Car Crash Attorneys Discuss Distracted Driving Cases

New Hampshire Car Crash AttorneysThe New Hampshire car crash attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman see it all the time. A driver is making their way down the road, carefully, responsibly, and obeying all the Rules of the Road. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, another vehicle causes a collision.

If you have been the victim of a car crash, you rightly want to know how that other driver didn’t see you. How did they not see the red light or the stop sign? What could they possibly have been doing that they drove so carelessly, endangering your life and the lives of other drivers, and pedestrians as well?  Who would drive like that? Why would they drive like that?

Distracted Driving on the Rise

We live in an age of ever-increasing distraction. We see people walking down the street all the time with their head down looking at their smartphone. Checking email and texts. Dialing a phone number. Doing all kinds of things except the most important thing; paying attention to what they are doing!

Now take the scenario above and place the person as the driver of a car.  Talking. Checking email. Texting. Making a music selection. Again, doing all kinds of things except the most important thing; paying attention that what they are doing!

Study after study has shown that, despite knowing how dangerous it is to engage in distracted driving, people do it anyway. Teenagers acting like teenagers – while operating a several thousand pound piece of machinery at high rates of speed! Workers stressed out about running late for an appointment. And yes, parents, who despite knowing that they are endangering the lives of their children, do it anyway.

New Hampshire’s Distracted Driving Law

In response to the overwhelming evidence that distracted driving was on the rise, the New Hampshire Legislature passed a law in 2015 banning the use of any hand-held electronic devices while driving. The law took effect after a lengthy public education campaign. It warned New Hampshire drivers about the dangers of, and penalties for, driving while distracted.

Restrictions

The ban includes the use of hand-held devices even when drivers are stopped at a red light. This means that if you have stopped for any reason without pulling off the roadway, you may not use a hand-held device. Restricted devices include cell phones used for emailing, calling, and texting, as well as GPS systems. Hands-free cellphone operation is permitted. These regulations are stricter than the prior law that only restricted texting while driving. Additionally, all similarly distracting activities are prohibited. The law also bans all minor drivers from any cell phone usage while operating a vehicle, even if they are using hands-free technology. Emergency calls are still allowed.

Penalties for Violations

The first offense results in a fine of $100 for those found to be in violation of the law. The second offense results in a $250 fine, and the third offense within two years results in a $500 fine. Additional penalties may be assessed in addition to the monetary fines.

Contact our New Hampshire Car Crash Attorneys

If you have been injured by a distracted driver and would like more information on filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the New Hampshire car crash attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman. We may be reached at (603) 605-0547 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com.  Stricter distracted driving laws may enable victims of negligent drivers to receive compensation for their injuries. This includes medical expenses and compensation for lost wages.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Why Car Accident Photos Could Be Crucial to Your Accident Claim

Car Accident PhotosIn the aftermath of a collision, good car accident photos can be crucial to building your personal injury case. In fact, they may make the difference between a successful insurance claim and a failed one. That way, you can avoid piling financial insult on top of your personal injuries.

We realize it may be tough to remember to take photos in such a stressful situation, but doing so will protect your interests in the long run.

At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, we’re here to help. So let’s do a quick walk-through of the process.

What Should I Include in My Car Accident Photos?

After everyone is safe and you’ve called the authorities, you can start taking your photos. Opt for both overview shots and close-ups of the details. You never know what might be important, so photograph everything you can think of, such as:

  • The surrounding area. This helps put the crash in context.
  • All nearby traffic signs, no matter how minor. Are they partially or fully concealed by anything, like foliage from trees or plants?
  • Any road construction signs and indicators.
  • Road conditions.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Skid marks.
  • Accident debris.
  • Any damaged structures, fences, utility poles, guard rails, etc.

Next, move on to photos of the vehicles themselves, and the people involved.

Take Photos From Multiple Angles

Start by taking multiple photos of the damage from as many angles as possible. Don’t forget to include the inside of your vehicle. Shoot general photos of all the cars as well, even from angles showing no damage. Be sure to photograph the license plates and the signage showing the makes and models of all vehicles involved.

Take Photos of Your Injuries

As hard as it may be, photograph your own injuries as soon as possible, then photograph the injuries of your passengers. By the time you end up in court, the injuries will have partially or completely healed. Be aware that some injuries like bruises might not show up for hours or days, so take pictures of those when they appear.

Take Photos of Witnesses, as Well as the Other Driver

The witnesses. You or an investigator may need to speak to them later, and your injury attorney will want to know about them if the accident goes to trial. You may not remember them later, so get a record of who was on the scene. Photograph the police officers on the scene for the same reasons, as well as the other driver(s) and all passengers.

Make Sure the Correct Time and Date Are Set Up on Your Phone or Camera Beforehand

Take a many car accident photos as you can, even if that’s far more than you think you’ll need. If you’re using a digital camera, set up the time- and date-stamp properly before you start. Your phone may or may not time-stamp the photos. If it does, the stamp will be based on your cell network’s clock and should be quite accurate.

What If I’m Injured and Can’t Take Photos?

Ask someone to do it for you. Provide detailed instructions. The more responsible and logical the person taking the car accident photos is, the better. If you’re alone, you may have no other choice but to depend on the police photos taken, if any. Otherwise, you can return to the accident site later to photograph most of the things on the above list. You can photograph the damage to the vehicles wherever the vehicles end up.

We Can Help You Maximize Your Damages in a Car Crash Claim

New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to carry auto insurance (even Personal Injury Protection), though at-fault drivers have to prove their ability to meet New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Requirements. The minimum liability insurance coverage for New Hampshire is 25/50/25, or up to $25,000 per injured person with a maximum payment of $50,000, with a $25,000 maximum for damages.

Whatever insurance you have, it may not be sufficient to pay all your costs, especially medical bills. If not, call the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC at (603) 624-7200 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com for a free consultation. We may also be contacted by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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NH Injury Lawyers Offer Post-Crash Advice

What to Do Following a Car Crash

Immediately following a car crash, people are often rattled and unsure of what to do. The experienced NH injury lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law know that by taking a few simple steps, you can protect your legal rights. Most importantly, if you are injured, seek medical treatment right away. Immediate medical treatment offers the best opportunity to avoid additional harm and to make a full recovery.

Important Steps to Help Protect Your Legal Rights

    • Immediately following a crash, call the police to have them come to the scene and complete a crash report. NH requires that any crash with a minimum of $1,000 dollars in damages be reported to the police. If the police did not come to the scene, you can contact them later to file a report. However, they will likely not do their own investigation or talk to witnesses.
    • Do not move your car until the police tell you to. Unless the cars are creating a safety hazard, wait until the police arrive on the scene to move your car. Allowing the police to document the location of the cars will help if a reconstruction expert is needed.
    • If the police do not come to the scene, be sure to collect insurance information. Write down the other party’s insurance information, including the insurance company’s name and the policy number.
    • If possible, get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any potential witnesses before they leave the scene. Witnesses sometimes leave before the police arrive, so it is helpful for you if you can get their contact information.
    • Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles. It is also useful to take photos of the injuries sustained in the crash.
    • In addition to pictures, save any other evidence. Was your vehicle totaled, or was any type of malfunction responsible for the crash? If so, you should have your vehicle stored until you can speak with the experienced NH injury lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law. This will allow the damages and any problems with the vehicle to be documented.
    • Finally, notify your insurance carrier about the crash. You may be assigned up to three insurance adjustors. One adjustor will likely deal with the damage to your car, one for medical payments coverage, and one for your potential bodily injury claim.
    • The insurance company will likely ask you to sign medical records authorizations and give a “recorded statement” about the crash. We recommend that before you sign any releases or give a statement, be sure to speak with a New Hampshire injury attorney at Manning & Zimmerman Law.

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Contact Experienced NH Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Have you or a loved one been injured due to another person’s careless acts? If so, 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!

For a free consultation, contact the NH injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 605-0547 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com. We may also be contacted by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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The NH injury attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter.

 

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Who’s at Fault When Robot Cars Crash and Injure People?

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Engineers rank vehicle automation from zero to five. Click chart to expand.

Where We Are Today

Most cars now already feature some form of self-driving technology. This includes cruise control and electronic stability control. It also includes recent innovations like automatic braking, lane departure alerts, and self-parking. The latest technologies, like Autopilot from Tesla and Drive Pilot from Mercedes-Benz, automatically steer, adjust speed, and brake. Instead of relying on eyes, ears and a brain for control, autonomous vehicles depend on data. This includes data from cameras, radar and high-tech sensors that detect light – all fed into an onboard computer.

Since we share the road with both old and new vehicles, all with a mix of technologies, the Society of Automotive Engineers created a six-level ranking system. Level Zero, One and Two vehicles still require human drivers to monitor the driving environment. Level Three, Four and Five vehicles put the computer in charge of monitoring the driving environment. Only Level Three vehicles, like the Tesla, are commercially available today. But traditional manufacturers, along with new players like Google and Uber, are testing fully autonomous Level Five vehicles. They predict these cars will be available to the public in the early 2020s.

What Autonomous Vehicles Mean to You

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The most encouraging prediction from the transition to driverless cars is a dramatic reduction in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 37,000 people died in auto accidents in 2016 and millions more were injured. NHTSA estimates that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error.  Self-driving cars are never tired, distracted, or impaired. They could dramatically reduce accidents, saving 30,000 lives or more each year.

The reality, however, is that Americans will still suffer injuries and deaths from auto crashes as self-driving technology is perfected. No technology is foolproof, especially when it involves the highly complex sensors and artificial intelligence central to self-driving cars. We’ve also learned the hard way that automakers deny responsibility or cover up manufacturing defects to protect profits. And even if Level Five automation is available to the public in 2020, it will be another 15 to 20 years before all vehicles on the road have the latest self-driving technologies.

Operators Still Blamed for Crashes

According to the car crash lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law, in a collision involving autonomous vehicles, the question of liability is murky at best. Is the operator at fault, the manufacturer, the software designer? Unfortunately, the trend has been to blame the operator. Manufacturers suggest that humans should be ready to take over when self-driving systems hand over the controls. Research shows, however, that humans are not well adapted to re-engage with complex tasks. These tasks include driving in an emergency situation, once attention has been allowed to wander.

As more and more vehicles become completely driverless, it makes less and less sense to hold their human operators liable. Instead, the car crash lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law see strict liability as the best solution, where manufacturers take full responsibility for crashes when the robot system is driving. This same principle already applies to common carriers like bus companies, airlines, or train operators, where passengers are completely dependent on the carrier for their safety. Auto insurance as we know it today would be eliminated under this scenario. Who needs an insurance policy if they’re not driving?

In the Meantime …

Self-driving technologies and eventually fully autonomous cars will likely be a reality sooner than later. Consider these tips along the way:

      • Do your research: Cars that already have backup cameras or automatic braking are already on the road today. Before you purchase a new car, review safety ratings for both the mechanical and the computer-driven technologies already on board.
      • Stay vigilant: Just like driving a car with no automated features, keep your attention on the road. It’s tempting to believe that once self-driving cars are introduced, you can relax your focus. Don’t exclusively rely on automated features to keep you safe.
      • Support accountability: There are laws currently being written about liability and safety when it comes to driverless cars. Support the laws and lawmakers that insist on strict liability for autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

Contact Experienced New Hampshire
Car Crash Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Have you or a loved one been injured by another person’s careless acts? If so, 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!

For a free consultation, contact the Manchester car crash lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 239-2315 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com. We may also be contacted by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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What to Expect at Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney

1. Bring all relevant documents

These may include accident or incident reports, medical bills, medical records, witness statements and/or lists of potential witnesses. Also included are any papers or journals you have kept to describe your injuries, recovery, and limitations, etc.

2. Write things down before the meeting

It is important to have all information available that may help your attorney get you a fast and positive result. Remember, it’s a team effort. Make lists of potential witnesses, insurance companies covering your property damage and injuries, and healthcare providers, with contact information. Keep a journal listing your injuries, your limitations, your doctor visits, and how your injuries are progressing over time. A meeting (and a legal case) will always progress more smoothly if you come prepared.

3. Be prepared to fill out some paperwork

When a personal injury lawyer decides to take your case (and sometimes before taking the case), one of the first and most important things that will happen is the collection of medical records related to your injury. You will be asked to sign releases to allow the medical providers to send your records to your attorney for review and use in your case. If the attorney takes your case, he or she will mail these releases to everyone who has treated you, with
requests for your records.

Another thing that might happen is that the attorney will ask you to sign a contract for his or her services. In a personal injury case, this will usually mean that you agree that your attorney will receive a percentage of your compensation in the case of a courtroom victory or settlement. This is known as a contingency fee arrangement which is agreed upon instead of paying for legal services on an hourly basis.

The Importance of Being Thorough and Truthful with Your Attorney

4. Answer all your lawyer’s questions thoroughly

Your lawyer will need to gather as much information as possible to assess whether your case is worth pursuing and what the likely outcome of your case will be. Questions can include, among other things:

• The details of the accident;
• The details of your treatment;
• Which daily tasks you can and cannot do since becoming injured;
• How long will your recovery take;
• If a full recovery is possible;
• How the injury has impacted your personal and professional life;
• Your pain level; and
• Your medical bills and costs to date.

This is where journaling about your injuries and writing down the information about your accident and the health care providers can really come in handy! Lists of other people the attorney can talk to, like witnesses, insurance companies, and healthcare providers, are also useful at this stage. The more information you can provide, the
easier it will be for the attorney to decide how to move forward with your case.

5. The importance of being truthful with your attorney

In addition to providing all the necessary information, it is also important to be truthful with your personal injury attorney. Do not withhold details that you are concerned to talk about because they are too personal or even embarrassing. Your attorney has a duty of confidentiality. Your case will go more smoothly if your attorney has all the information about your case.

Be Sure to Listen to Your Personal Injury Attorney

6. Listen to your attorney: He or she will give you a preliminary opinion and explain what happens next

If you have been able to provide your attorney with a pretty thorough breakdown of your injuries, expenses, and limitations, the attorney will most likely be able to provide a preliminary opinion on your case at the initial consultation (though he or she may need to gather more information first).

You might find out if the attorney thinks you can win this case in court, whether it is best to settle your case outside of court, and what some of the parameters are for figuring out the compensation you should seek. Considered here are your medical and loss-of-work expenses, your long-term limitations, and the level of fault of the other party. Your attorney may decide to take your case or, in some cases, refer your case to another attorney who may be able to better assist you due to your particular circumstances.

The personal injury attorney representing you may also tell you that you should wait to begin your case until you have reached your maximum level of recovery from the injury.

Contact an Experienced New Hampshire Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured by another person’s careless acts, contact a personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC at (603) 239-2489 for a free consultation. 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!

To subscribe to our newsletter, click here. We are also on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Manchester Injury Attorney Named to Super Lawyers List

Manchester Injury Attorney Maureen Raiche Manning represents injury victims throughout New Hampshire

Manchester injury attorney Maureen Raiche Manning has been named to the 2017 Super Lawyers listing for attorneys representing injury victims. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. Each lawyer selected for this recognition has attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Attorney Manning has been practicing personal injury law in New Hampshire for 31 years, representing clients in New Hampshire federal and state courts. Maureen is proud to represent individuals who have sustained injuries through no fault of their own in motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, medical negligence, and all other areas of personal injury.  She also represents the estates of victims of wrongful death.

Maureen is a lifelong resident of Manchester, the mother of three adult sons, and a former three-term state legislator. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Law Degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Maureen is a faculty member at the Keenan Ball Trial College where she instructs other trial attorneys.

Manchester injury attorneyMaureen’s law partner is Manchester injury attorney Anna Goulet Zimmerman. Joining Maureen and Anna in the practice of law is associate attorney Michaila Oliveira. Both Attorneys Manning and Zimmerman are past-presidents of the New Hampshire Association for Justice, a statewide professional association of trial attorneys working to protect constitutional rights and to ensure that all citizens receive justice through the legal system.

About Manning & Zimmerman Law

The Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC represents injured plaintiffs throughout New Hampshire from their office in Manchester’s Historic District. Click here to learn more about Manning and Zimmerman Law.

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Manchester Injury Lawyers: Rear-End Collisions

Rear-End Collisions

The Manchester injury lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law know that for a number of years, car crashes were declining due to several factors. This includes the manufacturing of automobiles with advanced safety devices such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, and multiple airbags. Recently, however, the incidence of collisions on American roadways has increased sharply.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 37,461 people died on American roadways in 2016, a 5.6 percent hike over 2015.

Research has shown that one of the major factors in this rise is collisions caused by drivers who are distracted behind the wheel, primarily, though not exclusively, from the use of hand-held devices. Texting, phone calls, searching for music, and many other distractions have fueled the spike in crashes, many of which are collisions to the rear-end of vehicles that have come to a stop.

Rear-end collisions have always been one of the most common types of auto accidents, but in the past few years they have been occurring more frequently due to the increase in distracted driving. Most rear-end collisions occur when the stopped vehicle is waiting in traffic, waiting to turn left or right, or waiting for a light to change, and the driver is struck from behind by someone who is distracted and not focused on the road ahead.

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Police Reports and Insurance Companies

The police report written following a crash will frequently place fault on the moving vehicle, usually for following too closely or for inattentiveness.  The driver of the moving vehicle will often admit liability to the police officer, you, or other witnesses.

Insurers usually pay considerable attention to police reports.  However, sometimes insurance carriers or their defense attorneys will claim no liability due to sudden and unexpected stopping, failure to signal when stopping to turn, not yielding before pulling into traffic, or brake defect.

Assessing Liability in Rear-End Collisions

The  experienced Manchester injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC will want to learn about the following items when assessing the certainty of liability in your rear-end collision:

    • Vehicle position. Was your car stopped in traffic, waiting for a light to change, turning left or right, slowing down for traffic, waiting to turn into a driveway, etc.?
    • The other driver’s speed. What was the approximate speed of the vehicle that struck you?
    • His or her following distance. Did you see how far away the colliding vehicle was before the crash?
    • Your use of turn signals. If you were about to turn, did you have your turn signal on?  If so, for how long?
    • The vehicle damage. Is the damage to each car minimal, moderate, or severe?  Do you have any pictures?
    • Any driver statements. Did either you or the other driver say anything about fault at the scene?
    • The existence of witnesses. Were there any impartial witnesses to the accident?
    • Any alcohol use. Were either you or the other driver drinking prior to the accident?
    • Any credible passengers. Did either car have other riders?  How persuasive are their accounts of the accident?
    • The driving conditions. Was the road slippery due to rain or snow?  Was it sunny, dark, foggy, or stormy?
    • The functioning of your lights. Were your signal and brake lights working?
    • Any defenses. Is the insurer suggesting that brake defect, icy conditions, sun in the other driver’s eyes, or your failure to signal is to blame?

Contact the Manchester Injury Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law Today

If you have been injured in a New Hampshire motor vehicle collision, 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. To contact the experienced Manchester injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman for a free consultation, call (603) 239-2315, complete a request for a consultation or chat with us on our website, or send us an email.

To subscribe to our newsletter, click here. We are also on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter.

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New Hampshire Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Insurance Company Insights

The New Hampshire personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC know that if you’ve ever had to file an insurance claim, frustration seems baked right into the maze of endless forms and confusing small print. Companies that once lived up to their promise to “be on your side” when disaster strikes dramatically shifted business practices in the 1990s to meet Wall Street demands for short-term profits. The result is chronicled in the book Delay, Deny, Defend: Why Insurance Companies Don’t Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It by distinguished Rutgers law professor Jay Feinman. Not surprisingly, insurance companies are recording astronomical profits. Here’s how it works:

Delay, Deny, Defend: Profits Over People

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Endless forms, arbitrary rules and a sea of fine print discourage claims

Trick #1: Deny, Deny, Deny Claims
The New Hampshire personal injury lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman know that insurance companies will outright deny that a crash occurred or that the policyholder was seriously injured. Some companies even offer gifts and bonuses to employees who deny claims and keep payments to a minimum. Arbitrary rules will crop up, often referencing provisions that do not exist or that contradict a previous statement. The hope is that denial after denial will defeat and deflate claimants, making them feel they have no choice but to throw in the towel.

Trick #2: Delay Paying as Long as Possible … Even Until Death
You’ve jumped through all the hoops and the insurance company has agreed to pay the claim, so you can rest easy, right? Think again. Delaying payment is another common tactic to boost profits. Insurance companies have been known to send out incorrect forms and then blame claimants for the error, or set very short time limits on when a claim can be made after an accident, injury or illness. In cases involving elderly or gravely ill claimants, some insurance companies have even delayed payments in hopes that the customer dies before they have to pay.

Trick #3: Defend in Court
Following a denied claim or a delayed payment, insurance companies know they can further delay writing a check by defending their questionable tactics in court. Billions of dollars in profits and thousands of high-priced lawyers on the payroll means they are always ready for a trial. Insurance companies know that many of their customers may be afraid or unwilling to hire a lawyer, and they use that fear to convince claimants that a court battle would only end in an insurance company victory.

Getting Paid What You Deserve

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Forcing a claimant to sue for benefits owed is one way insurance companies fail their customers

What can a David do against these insurance company Goliaths? Here are some tips on what to do before, during, and after making a claim to an insurance company:

  • Pick a reputable company: It pays to do a little homework before you sign on the dotted line. Start with this list of best/worst insurers ranked on claim denials and bad-faith practices.
  • Read your policy carefully: You should know exactly what is covered and what you need for an appeal in case your claim is denied.
  • Double- and triple- check forms: An incorrectly filled-out form can be used by an insurance company to deny or delay claims. Past forms can even be used as a way to retroactively deny coverage. Be thorough and honest on every piece of paper you fill out.
  • Do not cash the check right away: Insurance companies will send checks with very low offers, or pay premium refunds if they rescind your coverage. Cashing these checks can be legally interpreted as accepting their offers.
  • Get everything in writing: If you need to fight your insurance company, you must be able to produce every bill, form and piece of correspondence.
  • Reach out for help: An experienced plaintiff’s lawyer can guide you through your claims process and provide the firepower necessary to challenge the insurance company in court if necessary.

Contact Experienced New Hampshire Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, 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 lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC offer free initial consultations to NH injury victims. Call us at (603) 239-2489, complete a request for a consultation on our website, or send us an email.

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Do I Still Have a Personal Injury Claim If I Am at Fault Too?

The most common questions we receive in a personal injury claim are “How do I prove my case?” and “What is my case worth?” Which party is at fault determines what financial recovery you have a right to in any personal injury case. New Hampshire follows a comparative fault system. That is, the amount of liability of all parties involved in a case and the amount of the plaintiff’s financial recovery is determined by the degree of fault of each party.

Determination of Fault

Comparative fault law seeks to determine which party is, more or less, at fault for your injuries. During settlement negotiations or in a lawsuit, it is not unusual for the defendant(s) to allege that the plaintiff is partly or completely at fault for any injuries they may have suffered.

New Hampshire personal injury claim

Calculating Damages

Say you are walking through a grocery store talking on your cell phone and you slip and fall on a wet floor because it was not properly cleaned. In this situation, a possible outcome could be some liability by the store because of their failure to clean up the wet floor or to properly warn that it was unsafe. However, if it can be proven that you were not paying attention because you were talking on your cell phone when you fell, the percentage of the store’s liability could be reduced.

In this case, if the store was found to be 80% at fault and you were found to be 20% at fault, any financial settlement or award would be reduced by 20%. Therefore, if a jury awards you $100,000, the amount would be reduced by $20,000. However, if you were found to be more than 50% at fault, the law does not allow for you to recover for your injuries.

Preserving Evidence of Liability in Your Personal Injury Claim

There are many things you can do to preserve the evidence in your case. This is true whether you are in settlement negotiations, a jury trial, or arbitration.

Photograph the accident scene

If you are able, take as many photographs as possible of the crash scene from different angles. In a NH car accident case, take pictures of where the vehicles came to rest and the damages to all the vehicles involved in the crash. Also photograph property damages, skid marks, and grooves in the road or dirt. If you fell in a supermarket from liquid on the floor, take a picture of the area, especially if there were no warning signs in place. If you were injured from a defective product, take a picture of the product and the product packaging.

Obtain police or incident reports

If you reported the accident to the police or business owner, a report should have been generated. Obtain a copy of that report. The police report should include a description of the crash, identification of the parties involved, and any witnesses. It should also include witness statements, a diagram of the crash if necessary, whether any party was transported to a medical facility, and the police officer’s investigative findings. An incident report from the business owner should include your description of the accident. Be sure to include any complaints of injuries, along with the incident date, time and location. Some incident reports may also include an employee’s own investigation, such as confirming whether liquid was present.

Obtain any video-recordings or photographs

Witnesses may have photographed or video-recorded the accident or incident. Traffic cameras or security cameras may have also recorded the accident. Seek a copy of the video recording or photographs or have an attorney demand preservation of that evidence. This must be done as soon as possible since witnesses may delete any evidence they may have. Video recordings may be erased from traffic or security cameras that are usually set in a loop, so after a specified amount of time, the recording would be recorded over by more current data.

Obtain witness information

If possible, ask for the full name, address and telephone number of all witnesses.

Contact a Injury Attorney to Discuss Your New Hampshire Personal Injury Claim

If you were partly at fault for an accident that caused your injuries, speak to the experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC to discuss your personal injury claim.  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. Call (603) 239-2489 today for a free initial consultation.

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Experienced, Knowledgeable & Personally Committed to Justice