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

New Hampshire car crash lawyers
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

New Hampshire car crash lawyers

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!

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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.

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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

new hampshire personal injury lawyers
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

New Hampshire personal injury lawyers
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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Bikers, Walkers Threatened By Increase In Distracted Driving

More Cars, More Walkers and Bikes, More Distractions = Higher Traffic Deaths

nh car crash attorneys
Use marked crosswalks: Eighty-two percent of pedestrian deaths occur outside the crosswalk.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 in traffic accidents. In 2015, more than 800 bicyclists lost their lives in motor vehicle-involved crashes. Pedestrian deaths shot up 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, bicyclist deaths by 13 percent – both more than any other category of traffic-related fatalities, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the NH car crash attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, the cause of this deadly trend has been greatly debated, with different groups pointing to a stronger economy and hence more cars on the road, more people walking to work or for recreation, and distraction due to the skyrocketing use of smartphone technology. Meanwhile, most efforts to prevent distraction are focused on motor vehicle drivers and passengers rather than pedestrians and bicyclists.

Teens Account for 25 Percent Increase in Pedestrian Deaths Over Past Five Years

nh car crash attorneys
Bicycle fatalities have risen sharply for adults (especially men) 20 years or older since 1975. Click on graph to enlarge.

Even if a person is not behind a wheel, they can be at risk if walking while talking on a cell phone or listening to music through headphones. Among kids, teens account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the United States, and unintentional pedestrian traffic injuries are the fifth leading cause of fatalities for ages 5 to 19. Older teens have accounted for a staggering 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the past five years. Over half of all adults have been involved in a distracted walking encounter.

Tips To Stay Safe

Walking or bicycling are healthy for both people and the environment. Perhaps that is why we’ve seen a 60 percent increase in commuter biking during the past decade. But while bicycle deaths among children have thankfully decreased by 88 percent since 1975, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have more than tripled. From the NH car crash attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind that will increase your chances of arriving safely at your destination, whether on foot or by pedal!

* Look left, right and left again before crossing the street
* Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
* Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
* Don’t wear headphones while walking or biking
* Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking or biking
* If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
* Never rely on a car to stop
* Only cross at designated crosswalks (82 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur outside crosswalks)
* Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, especially at night
* Always wear a helmet while biking
* Walk in groups, if possible
* Follow all traffic laws and road signs, and signal to turn

Contact Experienced NH Car Crash Attorneys Today

If you have been injured in a New Hampshire pedestrian 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 attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC offer free initial consultations to NH injury victims. Call (603) 239-2489, complete a request for a consultation on our website, or send us an email.

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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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NH Car Accident Lawyers: Experts Looking for Answers to Rising Traffic Injuries and Deaths

Cheaper Gas, Better Economy, Distracted Driving Among Contributing Factors

For decades, auto accidents have trended downward. Road fatalities steadily declined from more than 50,000 annually in the early 70s to just over 30,000 in recent years. Credit goes to many advances in safety, including:

  • Crash worthy vehicles that better protect those involved in crashes
  • New technologies like anti-lock braking, vehicle stability controls and self-driving sensors that prevent crashes in the first place
  • Educational programs and tougher laws aimed at seat belt use, teen drivers and driving while impaired

But starting in 2015, road safety hit the skids when the number of people lost in crashes jumped 7.2 percent from 2014, the largest percentage increase in 50 years. And the news for 2016 may be even worse as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently projected an 8 percent increase in traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2016 over 2015.

Some safety experts have blamed the increase on more drivers traveling more miles. Longer commutes and more road trips, coupled with cheaper gas and lower unemployment, add up to more drivers on the road. Even those not in vehicles are at a higher risk as car-pedestrian and bike fatalities have risen as well.

But NHTSA’s Administrator Mark Rosekind said he and his colleagues can’t accept that a better economy means more people are going to die on our roads. “We still have to figure out what is underlying those lives lost,” he said. To that end, NHTSA and the National Safety Council joined forces to launch the Road To Zero campaign which aims to end all traffic fatalities in the U.S. in the next 30 years. This campaign provides grants to non-profits that help research and implement innovative highway safety measures.

Car Crash? There’s an App For That

According to the NH car accident lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman, the spike in injuries and deaths from crashes is often blamed on the use of smartphones. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that almost 80 percent of U.S. adults own smartphones. More than 600,000 of those people are operating a smartphone while driving at any given time.

Texting and driving have proven to be a dangerous combination, with 78 percent of distracted driving-related crashes attributed to texting drivers. However, dangers from non-texting apps that encourage driver interaction have also arisen.

The messaging app Snapchat features a speed filter that tells users how fast they are traveling, which some have argued encourages drivers to travel at unsafe speeds. A man who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a recent collision is suing both the other driver for her recklessness as well as Snapchat for encouraging the teen to drive at unsafe speeds. Waze, a navigation app, rewards users for reporting traffic jams and roadside obstructions while driving. The “Gotta Catch ’Em All” mentality of Pokémon Go has caused accidents when users ignored safety to play the game.

Protect Yourself and Others

According to the NH car accident lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman, traditionally the six root causes of serious accidents are driver inattention, fatigue, impaired driving, speeding, aggressive driving and adverse weather conditions. With those factors in mind, here are some tips you can use to prevent traffic accidents and protect yourself and others:

  • Silence and put away all phones for the duration of your drive.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and leave the distractions at home.
  • When buying a new or used car, prioritize safety ratings and purchase cars with safety features. Also be sure to run a recall check on your car at SaferCar.gov.
  • If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, pay attention to vehicle traffic even if you have the right of way. A distracted driver could mean disaster.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and wear your seat belt.
  • Always drive alert, awake and sober.

Contact the NH Car Accident Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman

Our civil justice system provides for victims of negligence to recover full, fair and adequate compensation for their injuries. The NH car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC handle cases in all areas of personal injury law, and we work diligently to ensure that our clients receive compensation for their injuries. There are no up-front costs for our services. All 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) 239-2315, 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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New Hampshire motor vehicle accident attorneys

Initial Medical Treatment Following a New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Accident

According to New Hampshire motor vehicle accident statistics compiled by the National Safety Council and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, despite the fact that there are an increasing number of safety features in automobiles, the number of car and truck crashes causing serious injuries continue to rise.

Following a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident, you will most likely be asked by paramedics and first responders at the scene how you are feeling and if you wish to be taken to the hospital.

Although you may not be feeling severe pain following a crash, it is still a good idea to be examined by the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and consider immediately going to an emergency room (ER) or urgent care facility. Particularly with soft tissue neck, back, and shoulder injuries, the onset of pain and symptoms may not occur until days or even weeks following an accident.

This article will explore some treatment options you should consider following a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident and the way insurance companies will likely view these treatment decisions.

Emergency Room Care and Treatment

Immediately following a crash, it is important that you seek medical treatment at a hospital or urgent care center if you are injured – and that you not drive yourself. You are typically better off traveling in an ambulance or having a friend or family member come to the accident scene and take you to the hospital.

If an insurance company learns that you did not seek treatment immediately following a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident, it will negatively affect the way they value your personal injury case. The same is true if you drive yourself to an ER for treatment. Rightly or wrongly, insurance adjusters believe that if you did not seek immediate treatment following a crash, or if you were “well enough” to drive yourself to a hospital, then you must not have been injured all that badly.

Your best bet is to seek ER treatment immediately following a crash if you feel you have been injured, even if you don’t feel intense pain or don’t believe that you have been injured seriously. Unless you have emergency medical training, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Emergency Room Doctors and Other Personnel

Ordinarily, EMTs and ER personnel will ask where you feel pain upon examination. Be sure to answer their questions completely and be thorough in describing your complaints and symptoms. ER physicians and nurses typically dictate a report which is then reduced to writing. These ER reports, along with all imaging studies (such as x-rays and MRI’s taken) and medical treatment reports , are forwarded to the defendant’s insurance company for consideration. Be as thorough and specific as possible when describing the nature and extent of your symptoms to EMTs, ER personnel, and physicians.

Prior to leaving the ER, the doctor will provide you with discharge instructions for treating your medical condition (such as taking medication on an as-needed basis or doing home exercises). The ER doctor may also recommend that you follow up with your primary care doctor – or with a specialist or physical therapist – as soon as possible. When a physician makes those kinds of recommendations, it is essential that you follow through. Failing to do so can have negative ramifications on your personal injury case (at least in the eyes of an insurance company adjuster) and can severely affect your recovery. You should fully comply with any discharge instructions provided by an ER physician prior to your discharge.

Getting Home from the Emergency Room

If you have been injured and it is not safe for you to be driving, it is important that you avoid driving yourself home from the ER following your examination and treatment. Again, from an insurance adjuster’s perspective, driving home from an initial ER visit (or to/from any medical or physical therapy appointment following an accident) raises questions as to the seriousness of the injuries you’re claiming to have sustained. Following a car crash, if you have been injured and need to rely on others for transportation to and from medical appointments, then you should do so. It is important to limit your activities and give your body (and mind) time to rest and get better.

You may want to keep a journal of your activities in the days following your crash. At a deposition or trial, you may be asked what you were able to do and not do as a result of your injuries. Whether you were home due to your injuries, as opposed to being able to get right back into your regular routine, will be important information.

Conclusion

Initial medical treatment following a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident can be stressful and painful. The best thing you can do is surround yourself with a support system of dependable family and friends you can rely on for transportation to/from medical appointments, and for necessary daily care, as you begin the injury recovery process. The last things you want to worry about during this initial treatment period are legal filings and deadlines. That’s where the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC will be of assistance to you.

Contact the New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the New Hampshire motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & 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 “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.