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Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are a way of life for many in New Hampshire and throughout the Northeast. And while skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get exercise and experience the outdoors, there are also certain risks involved in these activities. Some of these risks are inherent in the sport itself, however, many risks can be greatly magnified when ski resorts fail to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the lifts and ski runs are safe for guests.

Of course, ski resorts should take all steps to make the resort safe. However, each year there are hundreds of people who are seriously injured in New Hampshire ski accidents. While some of these accidents involve the negligence of a skier or snowboarder, many would have otherwise been preventable had the resort exercised reasonable caution. However, under New Hampshire premises liability law, some ski resorts may be immune from liability based on the state’s “ski immunity” statute.

In part because the ski tourism industry is such a vital part of the state’s economy, lawmakers have passed certain statutes that shield ski resorts from liability. Specifically, section 225-A:24 states that “Each person who participates in the sport of skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing accepts as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in the sport,” and cannot bring a lawsuit against a resort based on these “inherent risks, dangers or hazards.”

Whether it be for business or helping a loved one move, towing a trailer is something that most people have to do at least a few times in their life. For those who do not routinely drive with a trailer, the experience can be a bit nerve-wracking, and for a good reason. Trailers can be unwieldy, especially when they are fully loaded or during periods of inclement weather. Thus, all motorists who tow a trailer must understand the New Hampshire trailer laws.

Under New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 266.30, many motorists who choose to tow a trailer must install brakes on the trailer. Specifically, section 266.30 is clear that auto trailers and semi-trailers must have brakes installed to legally operate on any public highway. Additionally, horse trailers weighing more than 1,500 pounds must also have braking systems installed.

The situation gets a little more complicated when it comes to smaller trailers. For example, small trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds (other than horse trailers) are not covered by the statute. Additionally, trailers designed to carry small equipment, such as wood-sawing machines, log splitters, and cement mixers, do not need to have brakes installed, as long as they are not being driven out of state.

Injured workers have several possibilities when it comes to obtaining compensation after an on-the-job accident. Under the New Hampshire workers’ compensation laws, most workplace accidents will not result in an employer being held civilly liable for damages an employee suffers while on the job. This is because the worker’s compensation law is an injured employee’s exclusive remedy. Thus, when someone is injured on the job, they can pursue a no-fault workers’ compensation claim, but they cannot generally pursue a New Hampshire personal injury claim against their employer.

Of course, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. The first is if an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. State law requires that all qualifying employers maintain a workers’ compensation insurance policy. In exchange for meeting this requirement, employers cannot be sued by an injured employee. However, when an employer fails to obtain such a policy, they are not protected by the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

Another way that an injured employee may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries is through a third-party personal injury claim. Workers’ compensation claims are between an injured employee and their employer. However, if a third-party negligently caused the employee’s injuries, that party may be liable in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if a truck driver who is employed by a trucking company is struck by a forklift while helping unload cargo at his destination, the truck driver may have a New Hampshire premises liability claim against the store (assuming that he too is not employed by the store). Third-party claims can raise some complex issues, especially if the injured employee also obtains workers’ compensation after the accident.

New Hampshire slip and fall cases arise when a person suffers injuries after slipping and falling as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on another’s property. Slip and falls inside buildings typically occur because of unsafe conditions such as broken tiles, torn carpeting, insufficient lighting, narrow or steep stairs, or wet floors. Outdoor slip and fall accidents are often the result of dangerous conditions related to ice and snow, potholes, broken steps, or other hidden hazards. New Hampshire land and building owners have a responsibility to make sure their property is reasonably safe for those who enter their property.

Under premises liability laws, these owners may be responsible for injuries that occur on their property. New Hampshire slip and fall victims must meet their evidentiary burden if they wish to recover damages against a negligent property owner. To begin with, injury victims should identify all potentially liable parties and then determine whether the parties were negligent. Some likely responsible parties are building owners, occupiers, landlords, and property management companies.

New Hampshire slip and fall plaintiffs must typically prove one of two liability theories. They must establish that the property owner or agent in control of the property should have known about the dangerous condition. This requires the plaintiff to establish that a reasonable person would have known about the hazardous condition and had enough time to remedy the unsafe situation. The other theory requires a plaintiff to prove that the property owner or their agent created a dangerous condition. Under this theory, plaintiffs must show that it was foreseeable that an injury would result because of the defendant’s actions.

Many popular baby product brands who sell infant recliners are receiving intense scrutiny after several babies have died while using these products. These products were designed with incorrect and unsafe beliefs about infant sleep, and as a result, many families have suffered traumatic losses. Under New Hampshire products liability laws, families whose babies have died using a baby infant sleeper may be entitled to monetary compensation for their damages.

Although, many of these companies boasted that these products were a useful remedy for infants who had sleeping difficulties because of acid reflux, experts contend that there is no scientific evidence that an incline is helpful for this condition. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to abide by safe sleep guidelines. These guidelines include always placing infants on their backs on a flat, firm surface without any objects in the area. They report that deviating from these standards can result in suffocation and subsequent brain injury or death. Despite the AAP’s baby sleep guidelines, Fisher-Price continued to market its products as a “sleeper.”

In April 2019, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a consumer warning advising parents not to use their highly-reviewed Rock n’ Play infant sleeper. The CPSC, in conjunction with the AAP, urged the company to issue a recall following several reports that babies died while sleeping unrestrained in the recliner. Following intense pressure and negative exposure, the company voluntarily issued a recall, allowing customers to receive a voucher or refund for their product.

Under New Hampshire premises liability law, owners or occupiers of property can be liable for accidents and injuries that occur because of a dangerous condition on their property. Premises liability law mirrors general negligence principles, and, as such, victims must be able to establish that the individual or entity responsible for maintaining the property failed to address the hazardous condition reasonably.

Generally, New Hampshire law provides two ways for injury victims to establish liability in these cases. To recover for damages, plaintiffs must either prove that they suffered injuries because the defendant carelessly created a dangerous condition or because they failed to repair or warn the victim of the danger. The plaintiffs must be able to prove that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.

For example, recently, a national news source reported that a landlord was sentenced to prison after an illegal gas line on her property exploded. The explosion caused several injuries, two deaths, and two buildings to crumble. Reports indicate that the building’s landlord continued to rent and sublet units of the apartment complex, despite the gas company disapproving a gas line into the apartment complex. After tenants complained of smelling gas, the utility company turned off the gas. In response, the landlord began tapping gas from a neighboring building. The illegal system of pipes was hidden from gas company inspectors. The deadly explosion occurred when the landlord instructed two men to turn the gas back on after the gas company inspectors left the building.

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.

New Hampshire is unique in that it is one of the only states that does not require motorists to carry car insurance. In instances where a New Hampshire’s driver’s negligence results in property damage or bodily injury, the driver must pay for the other party’s damages. In some circumstances, the liable party refuses or cannot pay the costs; in those cases, the state will suspend the driver’s license until they can arrange a payment plan or obtain coverage. However, in some situations, the at-fault motorist may not pay, and New Hampshire drivers should retain an experienced car accident attorney to help them recover for their damages.

Although New Hampshire does not require motorists to obtain car insurance, they must still offer uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. They must allow drivers to purchase an amount that equals the driver’s liability coverage. This coverage generally covers the policyholder as a driver, pedestrian, or passenger in another vehicle. Additionally, it protects passengers and other authorized drivers. Some policies even apply to passengers that suffer injuries when the driver is an authorized driver in another vehicle. However, the insurance company’s main objective is their financial interest, and there are situations where they will deny coverage.

For instance, a state appellate court issued an opinion addressing issues that frequently arise in New Hampshire personal injury lawsuits and claims against insurance companies. In that case, a special needs child suffered abuse while he was a passenger on a school bus. He evoked his mother’s uninsured motorist provision to recover for the injuries he sustained because of the abuse. The insurance company refused to pay out damages and stated that the provision only applies to injuries that “arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use” of an uninsured vehicle. The court ultimately found in favor of the insurance company and refused to cover the child’s injuries.

Winter can be a fun and beautiful season, with many New Hampshire residents enjoying ice-skating, sledding, and the winter holidays. However, with winter comes winter weather, which is some of the most dangerous weather and causes many slip and fall accidents each season. Even just walking down the street can lead to a tragic accident; individuals might slip on built-up snow or hidden ice and fall, potentially suffering broken bones, spinal cord injuries, hip injuries, and more. And going inside does not necessarily lessen the risk of an accident. Often, floors in grocery stores can become slippery as customers walk through snow and bring it in on their shoes, where it melts and poses a slipping hazard. New Hampshire residents should be aware of the risks that winter weather poses and their options for legal recourse should they be injured.

Many people who slip and fall because of ice or snow do not consider filing a claim against the responsible party because they assume that the accident was their fault, and that they should have been more careful. However, there are many times when another party, typically the property owner, is responsible for maintaining the premises and ensuring that sidewalks and walkways are free from hazardous conditions, such as built-up ice or snow. Property owners are also responsible for maintaining safe walking conditions inside their buildings, avoiding slippery floors whenever possible. This legal doctrine is called premises liability, and it generally applies to private homeowners, businesses, and even rental properties in most situations. Therefore, when someone is injured because a homeowner failed to shovel their walkway, or a business failed to keep their floors dry and free of tracked-in snow, that person can typically bring a civil negligence lawsuit against the responsible party.

These lawsuits can be complicated, with property owners arguing that they did their best to avoid the hazard, that they had no way of knowing about it, or that they warned visitors about the danger. Many plaintiffs may be dissuaded from filing a claim, fearing that it could result in a long, drawn-out case, costing time and energy that they would rather reserve for healing and getting their life back on track. But often victims are saddled with costs after an accident, and they may struggle to pay back medical bills or account for lost wages. As a result, consulting a personal injury attorney to assist with the case may take some of the stress off the victim while still earning them compensation.

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