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Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss Foodborne Illness

Tainted Lettuce and Beef Lead Increase in Foodborne Illness

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Bagged salad may be convenient but it is a breeding ground for bacteria

According to the personal injury attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law, in early 2018, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported an outbreak of E. coli found in romaine lettuce. The outbreak sickened nearly 200 people and killed five. Right before Thanksgiving, another outbreak caused the CDC to recall all romaine, fresh and bagged. In the fall, more than 19 million pounds of ground beef were recalled in three separate salmonella outbreaks.

Is our food out to get us? If you think you’re seeing more reports of foodborne illness these days, you’re right. So why are these reports increasing, and what can you do about it?

Shift in Food Culture and Economy

The boost in foodborne illness can be traced to one source: our changing food habits. New diets, a complex food economy and advanced technology are all part of the American food culture. Three key parts of how we consume food are causing more outbreaks:

  1. Healthy, easy eating. The deadliest illness offender? Produce. While food sickness is usually associated with tainted meat, it’s fruits and veggies that are the most often contaminated – especially greens like lettuce and spinach. Cooking can kill dangerous pathogens, leaving raw produce more susceptible. A stronger focus on a health-conscious diet has encouraged consumers to buy more greens. And the easiest way to purchase your leafy sustenance? Bagged salads. Millions of pounds of greens are cut, washed and then bagged for your convenience. But once those greens are in a bag, they are introduced to a moist and enclosed breeding ground for bacteria. The packaging process also makes it more difficult to find the cause of contamination and prevent more people from getting sick. Different lettuces grown at different farms are all mixed together into bags that are distributed to supermarkets and restaurants all over the country. This makes it harder for food safety officials to find a common link among farms and suppliers.
  2. Imported food. A global economy and adventurous tastes have encouraged more food imports than ever before. Currently, 80 percent of all seafood in the U.S. is imported. Half of our fruits and a third of our vegetables are imported, with estimates that this number will increase by 45 percent in the next decade. Access to healthy, inexpensive food is a great benefit of imports, but imported food is harder to regulate and track. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) only samples about 1 percent of all food imports. Cases of food fraud in places like China and Costa Rica raise many questions about the safety of what is brought into the U.S.
  3. Better technology and reporting. The good news? Higher numbers of food illness reports can actually mean food is getting safer. About 1,600 deaths from foodborne illness happen each year where the pathogen is unknown, and they are classified as sporadic. The CDC is getting better at analyzing the links between various outbreaks, which helps them identify the source, announce recalls and prevent more illness. In 2008, the public-health community began using a new method of DNA fingerprinting called whole genome sequencing, which has led to a large spike in detected outbreaks. According to Benjamin Chapman, a professor of food safety at North Carolina State University, “We’re getting better at detecting the outbreaks, and there are better-trained public-health individuals now looking to solve foodborne illness outbreaks than we’ve ever had.”

Tips for Food Safety in Your Home

If you’re going out to eat, do your best to find out if the restaurant is clean. Check on the ways restaurants are rated with this guide. However, most food contamination starts in the home. The CDC recommends four steps to prevent foodborne illness:

  1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces before and after handling food, but also after using the bathroom, handling pets or tending to a sick person. Wash all produce thoroughly before consumption.
  2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Use separate cutting boards for meat and produce, and always wash thoroughly after use. Throw out old or difficult to clean cutting boards. Do not use platters or plates for cooked food that previously held raw food.
  3. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to cook your food to the safe minimum internal temperature and always wash it after use.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate food promptly in airtight containers. Use up leftovers quickly.

Contact Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys 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 experienced personal injury attorneys 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 experienced NH personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 671-3156, by email at info@MZLawNH.com, or by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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NH Injury Lawyers Discuss Surgery Centers

Surgery Centers Not Reporting Deadly Complications

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Medicare data shows that the most common type of surgery performed by an ASC is ophthalmology, specifically cataract surgery. [Click chart]

The rising cost of health care in America is a big concern. Small, relatively routine surgeries that are performed in a hospital can greatly increase those costs. Thus, many patients are directed toward ambulatory or same-day surgery centers. In 1970, the first freestanding surgery center was started in Phoenix to combat rising health care costs and provide more convenient, timely care for patients. The number of ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the United States has exploded since, surpassing 5,600 today.

As the number of surgeries performed in these centers has risen into the millions, so have the risks of medical complications. A new joint investigation by USA TODAY and Kaiser Health News sheds light on centers plagued by poor oversight, unqualified or ill-equipped staff, and little to no accountability.

Poor Training, Equipment, and Procedures Endanger Patients

Since 2013, more than 260 patients have died after “in-and-out” procedures at surgery centers across America. At Kandis Endoscopy Center in Arkansas, two people died and one suffered brain damage in the span of four months after complications during anesthesia. Arkansas is one of 17 states that does not have a mandate for ASCs to report deaths after a procedure.

Medicare reporting qualifications aren’t strong either, allowing ASCs latitude on reporting the number of patients that are transferred to a hospital unless more than half leave by ambulance. A hospital transfer indicates that a surgery center could not handle a serious issue that occurred during a procedure. Only one-third of ASCs voluntarily disclose how often patients are sent to an emergency department. Even the ASC Quality Collaboration, an advocacy organization run by leaders in the industry, requested that Medicare require better reporting. It also publishes a voluntary quarterly quality report.

And what happens when the doctors working at a center are also the owners? In large hospitals, committees and administrators are in place to oversee doctors. However, many surgery centers are partially or fully owned by the physicians who work there. This creates a conflict of interest between a doctor-owner’s financial interests and his/her willingness to report mistakes.

In 2001, gynecologist Dr. Paul Mackoul lost his hospital privileges after a committee reviewed his “competence or conduct” as a physician. He now runs his own surgery center with his wife. In 2015, a uterine cancer patient died after Dr. Mackoul installed a catheter into her chest, even though he was not certified to perform any type of cancer surgery. Her family sued, alleging that the doctor punctured a vein during installation, causing blood to build up in her chest and her lung to collapse. Dr. Mackoul is still performing surgeries today.

Guide to Vetting Surgery Centers

With millions of procedures or more performed each year, you or a loved one could be referred to a surgery center in the near future. What can you do to reduce the chance of complications?

  • Choose a center that has accreditation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provide a list of approved accrediting organizations.
  • Talk to trusted friends and family about their experiences. If you know someone who has had the same procedure, ask them about the surgery center they utilized.
  • Look for a facility and surgeons that perform your procedure on a regular basis.
  • Customer reviews are your friend! Do your due diligence and look for patient reviews online before you book your surgery.
  • Make sure your center is close to a hospital just in case an emergency arises.

Contact Experienced NH Injury 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 NH injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 671-3156, by email at info@MZLawNH.com, or by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Steps to Take After a Car Accident in New Hampshire

nh injury attorneysEven minor car crashes can be unsettling. And you’ll probably be pumped up with adrenaline and emotion for a while afterward. So while you may think common sense will guide you after a car crash, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of time by keeping these tips in mind. Below, the New Hampshire Car Accident Attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC discusses 7 steps to take after a car accident:

Step 1: Stop and Pull Over

Hit-and-run can be a felony if someone is injured or killed in the accident, so don’t immediately leave the scene. Stop and pull over to the side of the road if you can. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights if you can. These actions increase the safety of the accident scene while making it easier for other motorists to pass.

Step 2: Check to See If Anyone is Hurt

Don’t get out of the car yet. Check your passengers for injuries and have them do the same for you. If you’re alone, check yourself carefully. In the aftermath of a collision, an adrenaline surge may temporarily mask the pain of some injuries. If you see and feel nothing major, wait until it’s safe to get out of your car before doing so.

Check with the occupants of the other car(s) involved. If the accident caused any injuries, call 911. Render first aid if necessary, but try not to move anyone unless you know they’re in danger.

Until everyone is safe and the authorities have arrived, don’t worry about trying to assign fault or blame.

Step 3: Call the Police If Necessary

Even if it’s not an emergency, you may need to call the police to inform them about the accident. This won’t be necessary if you’re on a busy or regularly patrolled road. If you’re on a low-traffic road or rural highway, call them as soon as possible. Don’t call 911 unless it really is an emergency. You can get the local police station’s phone number from Information.

Step 4: Swap Contact and Insurance Info

While you’re waiting, exchange insurance and contact information with all other drivers. This is one of the most important steps to take after a car accident, as it will eventually come in handy in your accident claim. Get all names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and plate numbers. If someone decides to leave the scene, try to get their license number. It may also help your insurance claim later if you can get contact information from any passengers in the other car(s).

Step 5: Take Notes and Photos

Document the crash. Don’t worry about offending anyone. Take notes on paper or on your phone’s notes app. Include where the accident occurred, the drivers involved, your car’s damage, and any injuries. Try to get the names of all the passengers and witnesses. Include the road conditions and any road hazards. Get the names and badge numbers of the police officers who respond, too. Take photos of everything above, especially your injuries and vehicle damage.

Step 6: Ask for a Police Report

Most insurers consider the officers who handle a scene to be reliable, solid sources of information. Ask them for a police report at the scene. They should be able to tell you when it will be ready and how you can get a copy. This can help you when you make your claim.

Step 7: Call Your Insurance Agent

Contact your insurance agent ASAP. If they’re unavailable, leave a message. When they call you back, they’ll fill you in on what to do next.

Learn More About Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Because auto damages can range into the thousands of dollars — and injury claims can go even higher — some insurance companies will do all they can to minimize or avoid paying a claim. If you get a low settlement offer, they deny your claim, or you feel you’ve been unfairly found at fault, we may be able to help. Talking to an experienced New Hampshire car accident lawyer may be one of the most important steps to take after a car accident.

For a free consultation, contact the NH injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 624-7200 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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NH Injury Lawyers Discuss Truck Crashes

Due to their size and weight, trucks can cause serious damage and result in fatalities if involved in a crash.

According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,317 fatalities occurred in 2016 involving large trucks. This is 5.4% higher when compared to 2015 and is the highest level of large truck crash deaths since 2007.

Trucks vary in weight, size, and utility purposes. As a result, these vehicles can cause different extents of damage when involved in a truck crash. Below are statistics specifically related to the type of truck involved in a crash.

New Hampshire Truck Crash Attorney

SEMI & HEAVY TRUCKING CRASH STATISTICS

  • Of the 15.5 million trucks in the U.S., nearly 13 percent are big rigs, tractor trailers, and semis
  • About 98 percent of all semi accidents result in at least one fatality
  • Tractor trailer crashes cost more than $20 billion each year. Of this amount, $13.1 billion is associated with loss of quality of life
  • For every 100 million miles driven on U.S. roads, there are 2.3 deaths and 60.5 injuries caused by big rigs

COMMERCIAL TRUCK CRASH STATISTICS

  • The average cost of a commercial truck crash is about $59,150
  • Nearly 90 percent of commercial truck crashes are caused or worsened by some sort of human error. This is either on behalf of a truck driver, other drivers, other vehicle passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians
  • About 75 percent of commercial truck crashes are caused by drivers of other smaller passenger vehicles, rather than truck drivers
  • Driver fatigue is responsible for roughly 30 percent of all commercial truck crashes

TRUCK CRASH INJURY STATISTICS

  • About 130,000 individuals are injured each year in truck collisions
  • About 22 percent of all truck crashes result in injuries
  • In most truck crashes (about 70 percent), there are no injuries or deaths – only property damage

IN THE NEWS

A recent truck crash resulted in the loss of 16 Canadian junior hockey players. On April 6, 2018, these players were killed and others injured when a trailer truck struck their bus. The driver of the semi-truck failed to yield at the flashing stop signal, colliding with the bus carrying the team. Police charged the driver of the semi-trailer with 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

The driver had only one year experience driving trucks and two weeks in the vehicle involved in the crash. He had only been driving the vehicle on his own for two weeks when the crash occurred. In October 2018, the owner of the trucking company was charged with violating federal and provincial safety regulations.

Contact a Truck Crash Attorney

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 a NH truck crash lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 671-3156, by email at info@MZLawNH.com, or by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

NH Injury Attorneys Discuss Rise in Elder Abuse

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

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

Elder Abuse
Protect the elderly in your life by learning the signs of elder abuse

According to the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS), 14,258 (7.6 percent) of approximately 188,599 complaints reported to state ombudsman programs in 2014 involved abuse, gross neglect or exploitation. Another study of nursing home staff throughout the country found that 36 percent had witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10 percent committed at least one act of physical abuse and 40 percent admitted to committing psychological abuse. It gets worse: A CNN special investigation in February of 2017 found that the federal government cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of sexual assault and abuse from 2013 to 2016.

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

Keep a Watchful Eye

Nursing Home Abuse
Financial abuse is often overlooked, costing older Americans more than $36 billion a year

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

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

Protect Your Most Vulnerable Loved Ones

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

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

Contact NH Elder Abuse Attorneys

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

If you need help bringing a NH nursing home abuse claim, or have any questions, including needing information about a nursing home requiring the signing of a forced arbitration clause, we are available to help. There are no up-front costs for our services. All NH personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis. This means that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 239-2101, email us at info@MZLawNH.com, or contact us by using the “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Commercial Truck Collisions

Manchester Truck Crash Lawyers Discuss Common Causes of Truck Crashes

Did you know that commercial trucks are six times the length of an average vehicle and nearly 20 times their weight? It seems like every day that we see a story about one of these trucks being involved in a collision. Passenger cars share the roadways with commercial trucks, and when a collision occurs, drivers and their passengers often sustain extensive damages and injuries, sometimes with tragic results.

Driving a truck for a living requires skill, patience, and the ability to react quickly. Commercial vehicles of all sizes need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Passenger vehicles must also use caution when driving near these vehicles.

The following issues are the most common causes of truck-related collisions:

  • The driver was inadequately trained to operate the vehicle
  • The driver was operating the vehicle for more hours than allowable by law
  • Unrealistic schedules caused the driver to operate the vehicle recklessly
  • The trailer was packed incorrectly, causing the trailer to shift while moving
  • Proper maintenance was not performed on the truck, causing mechanical failure
  • Falling asleep while driving or using medications that make an operator drowsy

manchester truck crash lawyersHowever, it should be noted that these are not the only truck driver related issues that cause serious collisions. The Truck Safety Coalition provides an abundance of information on trucking crashes and is a good resource. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also provides helpful information.

Contact Experienced Manchester Truck Crash Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck-related collision? 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 truck crash 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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Courts Wrestle with Damages When Pets are Injured

New Hampshire Injury Attorneys
Discuss Pet Injuries

The New Hampshire injury attorneys at Manning and Zimmerman Law know that furry, scaly, or feathered companions are nearly a given in most American homes (including ours). It is estimated that 68 percent of all American households own pets, and in 2017 these households spent over $69 billion on food, vet care, and more for their beloved companions. Clearly, an injury to a pet can be traumatic and expensive for owners, especially if it was caused by the negligence of another party. Consider these legal options:

Criminal and Civil Actions

Criminal charges: There are criminal laws against animal cruelty in all 50 states. If you believe there was willful and malicious intent to injure or kill your pet, the New Hampshire animal cruelty laws might apply. Immediately file a complaint with local law enforcement and provide as much detail as possible. If charged and found guilty, perpetrators of animal abuse can serve jail time and be held responsible for damages.

Civil action: According to the New Hampshire injury attorneys at Manning and Zimmerman Law, you may also be entitled to monetary damages in civil court if someone negligently injures or kills your animal companion, regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental. In these cases, you are generally entitled to the “market value” of your pet. Pets are considered property, and a market value is assigned based on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Pedigree
  • Purchase price
  • Special abilities, training, or awards
  • Age and general health

You may also recover the veterinary costs incurred while caring for your pet after the injury.

Emotional Distress

Legal descriptions aside, we all know that pets are not mere personal property. They become beloved friends, companions, and part of the family. Over the years, pet owners and animal advocacy groups have pushed the courts to recognize emotional distress after a pet is negligently injured or killed. One recent case of note involved a 2012 lawsuit filed by a family in California after a neighbor attacked the family dog with a baseball bat. The injuries were so severe that surgery was required. The family was awarded veterinary costs as well as damages for emotional distress.

However, most courts have followed years of precedent and ruled against recognizing emotion-based damages in animal injury cases. In the recent case of a dog that was accidentally euthanized, the Supreme Court of Texas said: “We acknowledge the grief of those whose companions are negligently killed. Relational attachment is unquestionable. But it is also uncompensable. We reaffirm our long-settled rule … Pets are property in the eyes of the law, and we decline to permit non-economic damages rooted solely in an owner’s subjective feelings.”

Visit the Animal Legal Defense Fund for more information on what to do if your companion animal has been wrongly injured or killed.

10 Steps to Follow After a Pet Injury

Aside from the pain, an injured pet will most likely be confused or scared. Take these 10 steps immediately after your pet is hurt:

  • First and foremost, be aware that injured pets may bite or scratch even their owner. Pain and fear can make your pet unpredictable.
  • Perform an examination slowly and gently. Stop if the pet becomes more agitated.
  • If necessary, muzzle your pet – but NOT if it is vomiting.
  • Call your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic before you arrive so they can prepare.
  • Stabilize any injuries if you can with splints, bandages, etc.
  • Transport the animal in a carrier to prevent additional injuries.
  • Keep your pet’s medical records accessible and bring them with you. Take copies on vacation as well.
  • If your animal has been mistakenly or deliberately injured or killed, take pictures. Include wide shots of where they were found and close-ups of injuries. Ask your veterinarian to document all injuries.
  • Following your veterinary visit, contact law enforcement. Report the incident and ask them to come to the scene. Get contact information for any and all witnesses.
  • If your animal has been killed, ask your veterinarian to perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

This comprehensive Pet First Aid brochure from the American Veterinary Medical Association can be printed, filled out, and kept with your pet’s medical records in the event of an injury.

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Contact New Hampshire Injury Attorneys 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!

For a free consultation, contact the New Hampshire injury attorneys 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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The New Hampshire injury attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. You can also 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.

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

James, a NH Personal Injury Client

NH Personal Injury AttorneysWe highly recommend the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman. Our case took about 18 months to resolve and throughout that time Maureen and Brenda were always professional, thoughtful and accessible. They answered every question, explained the process along the way and were attentive to our concerns. Maureen’s extensive experience and knowledge are impressive and my wife and I feel fortunate to have had her on OUR side of our case!

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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