Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Driving under the influence can lead to serious physical injuries, property damage, and fatalities, and it is not a risk that any driver should take. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes, which equates to one person every 52 minutes.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances substantially impairs thinking, reasoning, muscle coordination, and reaction time, which are necessary components of driving. Being under the influence while driving leads a driver to engage in reckless behavior such as speeding, swerving, running red lights, and crossing lanes without checking for obstacles around them.

For example, last month, WMUR Manchester reported on a crash that occurred on the Everett Turnpike in New Hampshire. A silver Ford Edge struck the back of a police cruiser after the driver veered into the right breakdown lane. Both the driver of the Ford Edge and the trooper were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Ford Edge was charged with driving under the influence.

New Hampshire consecutive crash (“CC)” and chain-reaction accidents typically involve multi-vehicle collisions, often resulting in the most severe injuries. CC series accidents refer to instances of consecutive crashes composed of a primary accident and one or more subsequent secondary crashes that occur immediately within a certain distance. Chain-reaction accidents involve incidents where a collision occurs because of a sudden change of the lead vehicle. While there are many similarities between these types of accidents, by definition, CC series involves a group of multiple accidents, each of which can include single or multiple vehicles. In contrast, chain-reaction is considered as one crash with multiple vehicles.

Recently, a New Hampshire news report described a multi-vehicle crash on the Spaulding Turnpike that shut down two lanes of traffic. State police explained that they received reports of a two-vehicle collision, and moments later, additional reports came in about a third vehicle. An initial investigation revealed that a Volvo driver and a Nissan driver were traveling parallel in the southbound lane when the Nissan driver encroached into the Volvo’s path. As a result, both drivers took evasive steering actions to avoid a collision which caused both drivers to lose control of their cars. The Volvo driver stopped on the southbound on-ramp; however, the Nissan driver collided with a concrete barrier. Moments later, a Chevrolet driver traveling southbound slammed into the back of the Nissan. This impact dislodged the Nissan driver from the vehicle, and he was pronounced dead at the accident scene. A preliminary investigation indicates that distraction by an electronic device may have set the chain reaction into motion.

Traffic crashes are a serious concern for New Hampshire road users despite enhanced safety features in vehicles. Through significant research, a common understanding has formed that the severity of a secondary crash is highly dependent on the characteristics of the primary crash. In both CC and chain-reaction accidents, road design, traffic conditions, and the position of the primary crash all impact the result of the secondary accident. While there are many similarities, CCs often result in more burdens to the relevant road and traffic. These crashes involve multiple collisions in a limited area, which often causes congestions that are difficult to escape.

Driving helps older adults maintain independence and stay mobile; however, advancing age can present impairments that may impact driving ability. New Hampshire car accidents involving older and wrong-way drivers can result in serious injuries and deaths.

According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), there are more than 45 million licensed drivers over 65. Further, approximately 8000 older adults over 65-years-old received emergency treatment for crash injuries. A study from the Journal of Safety Research indicates that drivers over 70 years old have a higher crash death rate than middle-aged drivers. The higher accident rates among that age group are predominately associated with increased vulnerability to serious injuries. In the last reporting year, 73% of fatal accident victims killed in crashes involving drivers 70 years or older were either the driver themselves or their older passengers.

Generally, older adults engage in safer driving behaviors than other age groups; however, age-related declines may affect some older adults’ abilities to operate their vehicles safely. Physical, cognitive, and visual abilities may decline with age, and this functional impairment can interfere with safe driving. These impairments can cause confusion while driving, leading to a wrong-way accident.

Vehicle fires can lead to serious property damage, significant injuries, and fatalities. Most New Hampshire car fires stem from situations where gas or diesel ignites and causes an explosion. Some common causes of a car fire include:

  • Vehicle defects: A design or manufacturing defect can increase the likelihood of a car explosion and fire. A defect combined with other factors may ignite a fire or create unfavorable conditions that lead to a fire.
  • Motor vehicle collisions: The force of an accident can cause one or more cars to ignite. The vehicle’s engine, battery, or another component may become damaged during an accident and cause gas spillage and an explosion.
  • Improper vehicle maintenance: Poor vehicle maintenance can cause a car explosion or fire.
  • System Failures: Faulty wiring or defective computer systems can increase the likelihood of a vehicle fire.

In some cases, drivers may notice certain signs that indicate a potential explosion or fire. Consumer Reports advises consumers to be aware of warning signs such as:

  • A burning or melting smell.
  • A warning light on the dashboard.
  • Smoke coming from the vehicle.

Vigilance about the presence of these signs can prevent severe injuries and deaths.

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Driving while intoxicated is one of the most reckless and dangerous behaviors for New Hampshire drivers to engage in. Impaired driving generally encourages other dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding and failure to yield, and can have catastrophic results. A recently published local news report discusses a driver in New Hampshire who crashed into a library while allegedly intoxicated, leaving his passenger with life-threatening injuries.

According to the local news report, a 31-year-old man lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the Conway Public Library. When authorities arrived on the scene, the driver and a 21-year-old female passenger were trapped in the vehicle. After freeing the occupants and rushing the woman to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, the driver of the vehicle was arrested and charged with aggravated DUI after showing signs of impairment.

Persons who are injured while a passenger in a single-vehicle collision may enjoy less insurance coverage than when involved in a multi-vehicle collision. In a multi-vehicle collision, the bodily injury coverage of the at-fault driver will pay for the damages of anyone injured in the crash. Furthermore, the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of any driver with an injured occupant can cover damages in excess of the bodily injury coverage policy limit. Because victims in single-vehicle accidents usually have less insurance coverage to work with, it is essential for them to consult with an experienced legal team to help collect all of the damages they are entitled to. Damages vary based on a number of factors, but may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, as well as for any pain and suffering a victim experienced as a result of their injuries.

As the weather warms up, more people will be out and about than usual. Although many of us are welcoming the warmer weather and sunshine, this also means that more pedestrians and cyclists will be sharing the roads with drivers. For pedestrians and drivers alike, it is crucial that they are proactive when they are sharing these often busy areas to prevent accidents from taking place.

According to recent national statistics, 5,977 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017. Based on estimates, that equates to about one death every 88 minutes. This number has only increased since, with the National Center for Health Statistics estimating that 7,668 pedestrians died in pedestrian accidents in 2019.

Although pedestrian accidents and their associated injuries or deaths can occur in a variety of settings, they most often occur in urban ones. In 2019, 82 percent of pedestrian traffic deaths took place in urban settings, 73 percent occurred on the open road, 26 percent happened at intersections, and an alarming 80 percent involved dark lighting conditions with minimized visibility.

Although there are multiple variations of car accidents that can be particularly dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous and deadly for those involved is the head-on crash. Because the vehicles are typically moving at high speeds directly toward each other, the sheer force of the accident often results in injury or death of both drivers and significant injuries for passengers. Understanding the common causes and steps forward following these accidents can help you, as a proactive driver, best avoid these tragedies.

According to a recent local news report, a head-on car accident in Oxford County left two people dead and two other individuals injured. The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office reported that a vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head-on with another vehicle. Both drivers were pronounced dead on the scene, and the car that was hit caught on fire as a result of the accident. Although two of the second vehicle’s passengers escaped the burning car, they were both transported to a local hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. As the accident remains under investigation, local authorities suspect that road conditions and driver impairment may have contributed to the crash.

Although New Hampshire experiences fewer car accidents than many other states in the country because of its smaller population size, the state is, unfortunately, no stranger to similar head-on car accidents. Head-on accidents are most often caused by distracted driving, driving under the influence, or drivers attempting to pass the vehicles ahead of them by moving into the oncoming traffic lane. Poor road conditions involving slippery, icy, or poor visibility for drivers can also exacerbate the possibility of an accident taking place.

In many cases when an individual is killed or severely injured in a New Hampshire car accident—and the responsible driver was reckless or under the influence—criminal charges will be brought. Because of this, many victims assume that they cannot bring a lawsuit against the responsible driver. However, this is not the case. Individuals can bring a personal injury lawsuit—or family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit—even if the defendant has been criminally charged. There are many differences between these two types of cases, which make them both permissible under New Hampshire law.

Recently, a woman was charged with motor vehicle homicide after a local, 91-year-old man died because of her reckless driving. The woman attempted to make a left turn into an auto body shop but misjudged the distance between her car and the man’s car. She struck him head-on, after which he died a few days later from his injuries. The police stated that because the woman drove recklessly, she did not give the deceased the chance to avoid the accident. If found guilty of motor vehicle homicide, she could face up to two and a half years behind bars.

While criminal charges against the responsible person in a car accident may lead to jail time, bringing a personal injury lawsuit to hold them financially responsible. Criminal charges are brought by the government, not someone harmed in the accident. In personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff, the person injured in the accident, must prove that but not for the actions of the defendant, they would not have been injured. While this may seem difficult to prove, the plaintiff’s attorney will present evidence of the defendant’s recklessness through witness testimony and other evidence. If the plaintiff is able to prove this to a jury, then they will win their case. In criminal cases, there is a higher burden that the government must prove.

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death throughout the country. While these accidents can range in severity and outcome, those who receive prompt treatment tend to experience better outcomes. In the interim between the accident and emergency responders arriving on the scene, Good Samaritans can play a critical role in a New Hampshire accident victim’s outcome.

Good Samaritans refer to those who render aid to others amid an emergency or dangerous situation. In New Hampshire, the Good Samaritan law provides immunity from civil liability to those who, in good faith, renders emergency care at the place of an emergency to a victim of a crime or to someone who needs urgent care. There are various exceptions and nuances to the rule; however, it is premised on the notion that this individual should not be punished for their good faith effort to assist.

In addition to protection from liability, Good Samaritans who suffer injuries because of another’s negligence while trying to assist an accident victim may have a claim against the at-fault party. This may occur in a situation where a speeding driver strikes a Good Samaritan while they are assisting an accident victim. The Good Samaritan may file a claim against the negligent driver or another entity that caused their injuries in that scenario. However, it is important to note that the negligent driver maintains the right to present contributory negligence defenses to any claim.

Earlier this month, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a semi-truck in Littleton, New Hampshire. According to a recent news report, the collision occurred around 4 p.m., on Main Street. At this point, little else is known about the fatal pedestrian accident and authorities are asking for anyone who witnessed the accident to come forward with information.

This report illustrates one of the challenges when bringing either a personal injury or wrongful death case following an accident. More specifically, the lack of evidence indicating who was at fault for a collision.

While injured pedestrians and their families can pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim following an accident, to bring a case successfully, they must establish that the driver was negligent. Of course, in situations where the driver was drunk or admits to being distracted, this can be straightforward. However, in cases involving less obvious mistakes, or a pedestrian who may also have shared some blame for the accident, proving that a driver was negligent can be difficult.

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