Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Sometimes when an accident occurs, it’s because of unpredictable circumstances beyond our control. However, sometimes tragedies occur because of the negligence of parties who have a responsibility to make public areas safe for passing pedestrians. These individuals may be held accountable for their actions through a New Hampshire personal injury lawsuit. In order to explain a complex accident situation to a jury, an expert witness is often needed during a trial. Unfortunately, plaintiff’s are frequently prevented from presenting compelling expert witness testimony.

In a recent First Circuit appellate opinion, a plaintiff was struck by a car while working in a construction zone. While attempting to cross the street after grabbing dinner, the plaintiff was standing on the roadway’s divider when traffic suddenly rushed towards him from both directions. The change in traffic trapped the plaintiff on the divider, where he was subsequently struck head-on by a westbound SUV. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff has become quadriplegic and will require extensive medical care for the rest of his life.

Following his accident, the plaintiff filed a negligent-design lawsuit against several entities responsible for the construction project that laid the backdrop for his injuries. He also retained a single expert to testify on the standard of care that these entities owed to pedestrians in construction affected areas. Through this expert’s testimony, the plaintiff hoped that he would be able to successfully establish his claim that the defendants’ negligence caused the accident to occur. The evidence that was going to be provided through the expert’s testimony was crucial to the plaintiff’s claim.

Sometimes, a car accident is truly an accident. However, more often than not, accidents are caused by a motorist’s negligence. This is especially true when it comes to New Hampshire drunk driving accidents. Getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink is a choice, a choice that – according to a recent report – many New Hampshire residents continue to make despite the known dangers involved with intoxicated driving.

According to a recent news article discussing the results of the report, New Hampshire ranks in the top third of states when it comes to the total number of drunk driving incidents. Specifically, the Granite State comes in 14th place, with more than 383 drunk driving arrests per 100,000 residents. This figure is almost 25 percent higher than the national average of 301 arrests per 100,000 people.

The report compared the number of DUI arrests in recent years with years prior, bringing to light some concerning statistics. For example, the rate of New Hampshire drunk driving arrests increased over three percent between the years of 2014 and 2018. In 2009, DUI arrests peaked, with over 400 arrests per 100,000 residents. However, all the way looking back to 2009, the rate of drunk driving arrests in New Hampshire decreased by 3.2 percent. While that may seem like a good thing, the national rate of drunk driving arrests decreased by 35 percent over that same period. Nearby Vermont was the only New England state that ranked above New Hampshire, with 418 drunk driving arrests per 100,000 people.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one of the leading causes of death for New Hampshire children, teens, and young adults are motor vehicle accidents. According to the New Hampshire State Police, the majority of fatal car accidents are the result of impaired driving, distracted driving, and the failure to abide by traffic and safety laws. In a recent study, the Insurance Information Institute (III), found over 10 percent of these accidents were head-on collisions.

Frontal crashes or head-on collisions typically occur when one vehicle was on the wrong side of the road and collides into an oncoming car. These accidents usually happen when a person improperly drives down a one-way road or highway, or if they were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Head-on collisions often result in severe injuries and damages because of the nature of the impact. Individuals or representatives of those who suffer injuries in a New Hampshire head-on collision may be able to recover for their damages against the at-fault driver.

New Hampshire head-on collision victims who wish to recover for their losses must be able to establish that the other party was negligent. Under New Hampshire’s negligence per se standards, an at-fault party may be liable for violating a statute that was designed to prevent the same type of harm the plaintiff suffered. This theory may be applicable in cases where the at-fault party was texting and driving or failing to keep to the right side of the road. In these instances, proof that the at-fault driver was engaging in these behaviors is sufficient to show negligence. In cases where negligence per se does not apply, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not meet the standard of care in operating their vehicle, and the result was injuries to the plaintiff.

Head-on car accidents can wreak havoc on the lives of New Hampshire residents. Because of the angle and speed of the two vehicles, these accidents are often deadly, meaning drivers should always be on guard when driving on one-way streets and aware of the possibility that a car may cross the median.

A recent tragedy from last month illustrates the danger associated with these accidents. According to a local news report covering the incident, the at-fault driver, a 43-year-old woman in a 2017 Volvo, was driving north on I-495 southbound just after 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night when she crashed headfirst into a 2018 Chevrolet driven by a 27-year-old man. Tragically, both drivers were pronounced dead on the scene. The Chevrolet’s passenger, an 83-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital immediately, where she remains in critical condition. The crash led to the highway being closed for about three hours as authorities investigated the scene and tried to reconstruct the accident to determine what happened. The incident remains under investigation today.

Tragic instances such as this one are a sobering reminder of how quickly life can change, and how one New Hampshire car accident can change people’s lives forever. Many people do not ever think that their lives will be uprooted by someone else’s careless mistake, and suddenly find themselves unsure what to do when they are injured in a car accident. Although nothing can undo the damage these accidents cause, New Hampshire law does provide accident victims an avenue for monetary relief: filing a civil negligence suit. These suits can be filed against a responsible driver when they, for instance, drive the wrong way on a highway.

In New Hampshire, motorists involved in a car accident may be held liable for the damages caused by their negligence. The state’s “at-fault” laws allow injury victims to recover from third-parties, such as insurance companies, as long as they can prove that the policyholder is liable for their losses. However, insurance companies typically look out for their own best financial interest and will go to great lengths to reduce or dispute an injury victim’s claim. Therefore, New Hampshire car accident victims must understand and apply the best theories to their case.

Under New Hampshire law, injury victims who wish to recover for their damages must prove that the defendant was negligent. To prove negligence, the plaintiffs must establish that the defendant owed them a duty to keep them safe, and they breached that duty. Generally, plaintiffs must be able to prove the standard of care that a defendant owed them and present evidence that a reasonable person would have been more prudent in the same situation. In some instances, plaintiffs may accomplish this by establishing that the defendant was “negligent per se.

Negligence per se applies when a person causes an injury while they were violating a law that was designed to protect the public. For example, the theory applies in situations where a person causes an injury while they were driving under the influence, speeding, driving recklessly, or running a red light. Negligence per se allows the inference that the defendant was negligent, thus allowing the plaintiff an easier path to recovery. In these cases, the fact finder does not have to consider whether the defendant’s behavior was unreasonable. Instead, the defendant’s actions are deemed unreasonable because they violated a rule, regulation, or statute. In these cases, there is a presumptive standard of care, so juries will only need to determine whether the defendant violated the applicable law and then whether the defendant’s violation caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Some New Hampshire car accidents, such as drunk driving crashes, may result in criminal charges being filed against the at-fault party. The county prosecutor decides whether to bring criminal proceedings against a driver, and which charges to file. Criminal cases typically begin after an arrest or investigation, and these cases must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If a defendant is found guilty, the defendant may be sentenced to probation or incarceration, and may be required to pay various fines and penalties. However, in most situations, criminal cases do not provide any compensation to victims.

Unlike the criminal justice system, civil proceedings start when an accident victim files a complaint against the party or parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries.  Plaintiffs must only prove their case under a “more likely than not” standard. Civil defendants are not entitled to an attorney, and consequences usually include monetary compensation for damages that the plaintiff suffered. Injury victims and their families often suffer long term financial consequences. In many cases, state victim aid falls short, and civil cases allow plaintiffs to recover damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and other associated losses.

For example, a recent news report sheds light on the financial burden that many families face after New Hampshire car accidents. A young woman died when her boyfriend, drunk at the time, crashed the vehicle she was riding in as a passenger. The young woman’s mother petitioned the state’s Victims’ Compensation Fund for assistance with funeral and medical expenses. However, the Fund denied her claim, stating that her daughter was partially responsible for the accident because she knew her boyfriend was under the influence when she got into the vehicle with him. This case is a prime example of issues that plaintiffs and their families often face after an accident.

Research indicates that there is an average of 6 million car accidents in the United States, and close to 100 people die in a car accident every day. A startling 20% of these accidents involve a parked or unoccupied vehicle. Although these accidents may seem to result in less damage and injuries, many of these collisions result in fatalities. For example, earlier this month, a 30-year-old man died in a New Hampshire accident with a parked car. Reports indicate that the man was driving south on a Rochester, New Hampshire road in the early morning hours when his Jeep swerved into the northbound lane. His Jeep slammed into a parked, unoccupied sedan and rolled over. The man was transported to a local hospital and died later that morning

As the above case illustrates, New Hampshire car accidents involving parked and unoccupied vehicles can still have disastrous consequences. New Hampshire, like most states, requires that drivers use reasonable care when operating their vehicles. Reasonable care means acting in a way that another similarly situated prudent person would. When a driver deviates from that standard of care and causes an accident, they may be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages. These individuals may be responsible for compensating injury victims for their economic and non-economic losses, including property damage, medical bills, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.

New Hampshire drivers who are involved in an accident with a parked or occupied vehicle must take steps to identify themselves and mitigate any potential damage. After hitting a parked car, drivers should leave their identifying information, speak to witnesses, contact the police, and speak to their insurance company. In some instances, the driver will be liable for the accident and responsible for the damage they caused. In other situations, the owner or occupier of the parked car may be liable because they negligently or unsafely left their vehicle in a dangerous location.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 10 percent of fatal car accidents involve a distracted driver. Specifically, data suggested that six percent of all drivers involved in a deadly accident were distracted at the time of the crash, and nine percent of teenage drivers between 15 and 19 years old were distracted. Moreover, there were close to 600 non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, who were killed by a distracted driver. Distracted drivers may be liable for New Hampshire car accidents caused by their negligent driving.

Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver diverts their attention from driving and paying attention to the road to something else. Common distracted driving behaviors include texting while driving, dialing a number on a cell phone, eating, changing the music on a device, watching a video, tending to passengers or animals, and fatigue. These behaviors can have potentially deadly consequences for everyone on the road.

For example, recently, a national news report described the harrowing details of a fatal accident that occurred because a driver was texting. A woman was texting her husband about their dinner plans when she rear-ended the car in front of her. As a result of the impact, the vehicle that she rear-ended crashed into a woman who was taking a walk while on a work break. Tragically, the pedestrian died a few days after the collision. The texting driver stated that she only looked down for a moment, and when she looked up, the car was right in front of her. A jury found the woman guilty of vehicular manslaughter, and she is facing up to 10 years in prison, in addition to possible civil claims.

In 2002, New Hampshire lawmakers passed Jessica’s Law in response to the tragic death of a 20-year-old woman who died when ice flew off a moving truck, hitting another truck, which then collided with the young woman’s vehicle. The woman’s mother lobbied for the law to prevent other parents from having to suffer the tragedy that her family endured. The law allows police officers to fine drivers between $250 and $500 for first offenses, and $500 to $1,000 for subsequent violations. Moreover, drivers who fail to abide by this law and cause New Hampshire car accidents may face civil personal injury lawsuits as well. These negligent drivers may have to pay compensation for the damages that they caused.

These violations are taken seriously by police because the consequences of flying snow and ice can be deadly to New Hampshire drivers, motorists, and pedestrians. Flying snow and ice can cause property damage to other vehicles, vision obstruction, and loss of control. Statistics indicate that close to 2,000 deaths and 137,000 injuries occur each year related to icy and snowy road conditions. Snow and ice removal before traveling does not take much time and can go a long way toward preventing a potentially fatal situation.

In some cases, ice and snow accumulate while a driver is already on the road. To address these situations, safety experts recommend that drivers keep a roadside safety kit in their car. Some essential items in the kit include cables, blankets, ice scrapers, and kitty litter. These items can help drivers safely and quickly remove snow while they are on the go. Additionally, it is a good practice for drivers to check a vehicle’s brakes, batteries, lights, tires, and seat belts before the winter driving season.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, inclement weather, including snow and ice, is responsible for over 1,800 deaths and 136,000 injuries each year. Some car accidents are not preventable; however, many occur because drivers, property owners, and pedestrians do not take appropriate precautions when driving or walking through snow and ice. The high rate of weather-related car accidents should serve as a warning to drivers that it is crucial to operate their vehicles safely during these weather conditions.

New Hampshire drivers should make sure to prepare their vehicles for winter conditions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some steps that drivers can take to avoid a weather-related car accident are to clear off headlights and windshields, remove snow from their car, make sure that their car has enough antifreeze, and periodically inspect their tires. Drivers should also check weather reports to prepare for the road conditions and consider alternative routes, since bridges and overpasses may become icy before other surfaces do. Furthermore, drivers should take steps to improve their visibility by keeping their headlights on. Most importantly, drivers should reduce their speed and keep a safe distance from the car in front of them. The winter season brings both higher rates of vehicle travel and treacherous weather conditions, so drivers must engage in these safe behaviors. Recent reports indicate that many cities are urging their residents to take additional precautions when traveling during the holiday season. Some are suggesting that residents use public transportation and evaluate whether travel is necessary or safe.

When New Hampshire drivers engage in unsafe driving behaviors, they may be liable for the injuries that their actions cause. Accidents can occur when snow and ice fly off car roofs, when a driver follows too closely, or when their excessive speed causes a collision. Additionally, New Hampshire has statutes in place that require property owners to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of their property. This means that property owners that do not rely on commercial salt applicators must ensure that their property is salted for people visiting their property.

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