A national news outlet recently reported that a truck driver was under the influence of drugs and reaching for a drink when he crashed into seven motorcyclists on a New Hampshire highway. The truck driver crossed a double yellow line and fatally hit the motorcyclists. These motorcyclists were part of a biker group comprised of Marine veterans and their spouses.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a thorough investigation and released a detailed report regarding the crash. Evidently, after the accident, the truck driver told police officials that he was reaching for an unspecified drink on the passenger’s seat when the accident occurred. The investigation revealed that the truck driver had a lengthy and alarming driving history.

Apparently, before this accident, he was arrested in several other states for various drug and driving offenses. Despite a license suspension, he was still able to receive a Massachusetts commercial driver’s license. His driving offenses date back to when he was 16 years old in 2012. One of the accidents should have resulted in the driver’s commercial driving license being suspended. However, the truck driver slipped under the radar and was able to retain his license. The inspection following this accident uncovered over 20 safety violations with both the driver and his vehicle. The trucking company that employs the driver is also under investigation.

New Hampshire car accidents claim upwards of 90 lives per year. Many of these accidents involve the fault of multiple parties. As we have discussed in previous posts, New Hampshire uses the modified comparative fault doctrine when determining whether an accident victim can recover for their injuries. Under this doctrine, an accident victim can pursue a New Hampshire personal injury claim, so long as their fault is less than the combined fault of all defendants. In other words, as long as the accident victim was less than 50% at fault for the accident, they can bring a claim.

Not surprisingly, given how the comparative fault doctrine works, defendants frequently claim that an accident was not their fault, but was instead caused by the plaintiff’s negligence. One question that often arises is whether a defendant can point to a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt as evidence of the plaintiff’s negligence. In New Hampshire, the answer is “no.”

Almost every state in the U.S. has at least some kind of law specifying when motorists need to wear their seat belt. In fact, New Hampshire is the only state with no seat belt law on the books. (Note: children are required to be safely secured in car seats, and minors under the age of 18 are required to wear a seat belt). Not surprisingly, in a recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, researchers found that just 69% of New Hampshire motorists wear their seat belts compared to 86% of motorists nationwide.

After someone is injured in a New Hampshire car accident, one of the most important considerations when filing a personal injury case is which parties to name as defendants. This can be a critical decision that impacts the plaintiff’s overall ability to recover compensation for their injuries for several different reasons.

First, New Hampshire injury victims get only one chance to bring their case against all potentially responsible parties. If a plaintiff proceeds to trial against one defendant, and then later discovers that another party also bore some responsibility, the court will likely preclude the plaintiff from bringing another case against the later-discovered defendant. Such a situation allows the named defendant to shift as much blame as possible onto the non-present party. If the defendant is successful in doing so, the jury may find that the non-present party was primarily responsible, leaving the plaintiff with no way to recover for their injuries.

Another essential reason to thoroughly investigate a claim is to increase the chances a plaintiff will be able to recover any monetary award issued by the jury. In many New Hampshire personal injury cases involving individual defendants, the defendant does not have sufficient assets or insurance coverage to fully and fairly compensate the plaintiff for their injuries. By identifying and naming additional parties, especially employers, a plaintiff greatly increases the chance of receiving the full amount of any judgment in their favor.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire personal injury case giving the court the opportunity to discuss product liability law as it pertained to the plaintiff’s claim that he contracted salmonella at the defendant restaurant. Ultimately, the court affirmed the jury’s $750,000 verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff contracted a case of salmonella shortly after consuming a hamburger while dining at the defendant restaurant. The plaintiff filed a New Hampshire personal injury case against the restaurant, claiming that it was liable for his injuries under the theory of strict product liability.

In its defense, the restaurant made several arguments, mostly focused on attacking the plaintiff’s theory of causation. For example, the restaurant pointed out that another person in the plaintiff’s party also ate a hamburger and that the plaintiff owned a pet lizard which could have been the source of the salmonella. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff ate other meals in between the meal at the defendant’s restaurant, and when he contracted salmonella.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire personal injury case involving a horseback riding accident in which a minor was seriously injured. The case required the court to determine if the defendant, an expert equestrian who gave the young girl lessons, could be liable for her injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that under RSA 508:19, the state’s equine immunity statute, the defendant was entitled to immunity.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a thirteen-year-old girl who had been taking horseback riding lessons from the defendant for two years. In addition to her scheduled lessons, about once a week, the plaintiff would go on a “free ride,” during which she would be unsupervised. It was during one of these free rides that the plaintiff fell off a horse while trying to dismount, and was seriously injured.

The girl, through her father, pursued a claim against the defendant. She claimed that the defendant’s negligence in allowing her to ride the horse unsupervised resulted in her injuries. In response, the defendant argued that she was entitled to immunity under RSA 508:19, the equine immunity statute. That statute provides that “an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person engaged in an equine activity, shall not be liable for an injury or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.” The plaintiff’s position was that her injuries were caused by risks that were not inherent to horseback riding.

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire motorcycle accident case discussing whether the plaintiff was entitled to underinsured motorist coverage. Ultimately, the court concluded that a clause in the insurance policy was not valid or enforceable. The provision required the plaintiff to obtain a certain amount of underlying insurance as a condition of the uninsured motorist benefits outlined in the plan. As a result of the court’s finding, it held that the insurance company could be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries under the policy.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a New Hampshire motorcycle accident when an SUV struck him. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver was at fault, and that while that driver had an insurance policy, the policy limits were insufficient to cover the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff maintained two insurance policies on the motorcycle, one with Allstate and one with the defendant. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with Allstate, under the underinsured motorist provision (UIM) of his policy. The limits of this policy were $25,000/$50,000.

The plaintiff, believing that his injuries exceeded the amount of compensation provided through the other two policies, filed a claim with the defendant insurance company seeking additional coverage under the UIM provision. However, the policy with the defendant insurance company contained an endorsement, requiring the plaintiff to obtain a certain amount of underlying insurance as a precondition to the UIM benefits outlined in the policy. Thus, the insurance company denied coverage. The plaintiff initiated this case to compel the insurance company to cover the claim.

Many New Hampshire personal injury cases involve multiple defendants. For example, chain-reaction car accident, injuries caused by dangerous or defective products, and even slip-and-fall accidents often result in an injury victim filing a claim against several different defendants. While the jury is ultimately responsible for apportioning liability between the parties, the court’s job is to make sure that the jury follows the rules when doing so. The New Hampshire Legislature provides guidance for divvying up liability in multi-defendant personal injury cases.

After a jury determines that there are multiple parties who are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, the court will ask the jury to come up with the total amount of damages the plaintiff should receive for their injuries. Then, the court will instruct the jury to determine each defendants’ relative percentage of fault. The court will then apportion the damages among the defendants according to the jury’s breakdown of responsibility.

In many cases involving multiple defendants, each defendant is responsible only for their own share. However, under New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 507:7-e, if a defendant is found to be more than 50% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, that defendant will be held jointly and severally liable for the entire damages award. Thus, even if other defendants contributed to the accident, the defendant primarily responsible for the crash must cover their share if the other defendants are unable to pay. In addition, any party who knowingly caused harm to the plaintiff will be subject to joint-and-several liability, even if they were less than 50% at fault.

A tragic New Hampshire motorcycle accident has occurred involving a pickup truck that was towing a flatbed trailer and ten motorcycles. According to a local news report covering the accident, the motorcyclists had just attended a dinner and were heading to a fundraiser at the American Legion.

Evidently, the pickup truck inexplicably crossed over the center line and into a pack of 15 motorcycles. The truck collided with ten of the motorcycles, several of which were carrying passengers. Witnesses to the accident told reporters that bodies were strewn across the highway and median after the accident.

Authorities quickly began an investigation into the motorcycle accident, revealing that the pickup truck driver responsible for the collision had been involved in numerous other accidents. Apparently, the driver of the pickup truck was arrested twice earlier this year, once for a DUI offense and another time for the possession of narcotics. Back in May, the driver was arrested in nearby Connecticut after he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence and refused to take a breath test to determine the amount of alcohol in his blood.

There seems to be a scooter-fever going around. Over the past few years, electric scooter shares have been popping up across the country. Electric scooters are battery-powered, and can travel up to 20 miles per hour when fully charged. A scooter share is a concept in which the hosting company places several docks across a city and fills them with scooters. For a small fee, the company allows users to rent a scooter at one dock and return it at any other dock. Some companies allow users to leave the scooter anywhere, and rely on paid “chargers” to find the scooters, charge them at home, and then return them to a dock. While scooter shares have been very popular with commuters as an alternative to driving or taking public transportation, many are concerned about the increase in New Hampshire scooter accidents.

Currently, there are no scooter shares in New Hampshire, although that is likely to change as their popularity continues to grow. One of the main concerns many have with scooter shares is the overall dearth of experience most users have with scooters. While scooters may seem harmless enough, they present a serious risk, not just to those riding them but also to other motorists. As it currently stands, scooter-share companies do not require that users have any riding experience before they can rent a scooter. Thus, users who have never been on a scooter and have no idea how they are operated can take the electric vehicles out with no supervision.

Another issue with e-scooters is the lack of regulation surrounding their use. For example, many cities have no regulation when it comes to where scooters should ride or the maximum speed limit. There is also often no regulation on where users can leave the scooters. This creates confusion among users, which increases the chance of a serious accident. According to a news report, the City of Portsmouth recently decided to get out in front of this issue by passing a city ordinance governing the use of electric scooters.

Losing a loved one in a fatal New Hampshire car accident is an unimaginable tragedy for most. However, in a small state of just 1.3 million people, there are an average of over 100 fatal traffic accidents each year. As a result, over 100 families must deal with the tragedy of having a loved one taken from them too soon. While the most common causes of fatal New Hampshire car accidents are speed and alcohol, driver distraction and drowsiness also contribute to the list.

After someone is killed in a New Hampshire car accident, their loved ones may decide to pursue a claim for financial compensation against the party or parties they believe were responsible for their loved one’s death. Such claims are brought under the New Hampshire wrongful death statute, which is contained in New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 556:12. The statute provides that “any person interested in the estate of a deceased” can initiate a wrongful death claim. Unlike other states that provide a strict list of potential beneficiaries, New Hampshire allows wrongful death claims to be initiated by any number of family members or loved ones.

Families who have lost a loved one in a New Hampshire car accident should keep in mind that section 556:11 imposes a strict time limit for wrongful death cases. Section 556:11 requires that a claim be brought within six years from the death of the deceased; claims filed after this period may be dismissed without consideration. It is also important to note that the six-year deadline applies only to new wrongful death actions, and not to any existing claims that the deceased may have had against another potential defendant.

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