What You Need to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Compensation Claim

May 16, 2019

A car accident, a bad fall, or a physical injury can seriously change your life. In cases where a personal injury occurred because of someone else’s carelessness, the injured party can experience financial challenges from medical expenses and time away from work. Personal injury also causes pain, suffering, and emotional distress that may linger with you and your family for years. In these situations, you may need to file a personal injury compensation claim.

Personal injury claims often arise as a result of one of the following situations:

These sometimes result in paralysistraumatic brain injury, or wrongful death.

The laws surrounding personal injury compensation claims vary from state to state which is why it is important to understand the laws as they apply to you. If you are considering filing a personal injury compensation claim, read on to learn about:


Personal Injury Compensation Claims in New Hampshire

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in New Hampshire is three years from the date of the incident for the majority of injury claims.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule. This is why — if you think you have suffered an injury as the result of another’s negligence or an intentional act — it is important to consult a personal injury attorney immediately.

Modified Comparative Fault Rule

New Hampshire recognizes comparative fault law. This generally means that in order to recover damages a plaintiff must be found to be less at fault than the defendant(s).

Here is an example:

If the plaintiff and defendant are equally at fault for the accident or injury (i.e., each 50% at fault), the plaintiff cannot recover damages.

If, however, a jury determines that the defendants are 51% at fault and the plaintiff is 49% at fault, she can recover. Under this concept, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by her percentage of fault.

Using this example, if the jury awards the injured plaintiff $100,000 but found her to be 49% at fault for the accident, the damages she would receive are $51,000 which is the full amount of the award ($100,000) reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault (49%).

Auto and Motorcycle Accidents

New Hampshire is a “Fault” state and follows the modified comparative fault rules as discussed above when it comes to auto and motorcycle accidents.

personal injury compensation claim

Dog Bites

New Hampshire is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites and animal attacks. Under a strict liability standard, a pet owner is liable for injuries caused by a pet, despite the reasonable care taken to protect visitors from the animal.

This means that if you are injured by another person’s animal, you do not have to prove that the animal’s owner was negligent or unreasonable in allowing the pet to harm you. The law also potentially allows increased damages if the animal has previously injured or attacked another person.

The law specifically states:

“Any person to whom or to whose property, including sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic creatures, damage may be occasioned by a dog not owned or kept by such person shall be entitled to recover damages from the person who owns, keeps, or possesses the dog, unless the damage was occasioned to a person who was engaged in the commission of a trespass or other tort. A parent or guardian shall be liable under this section if the owner or keeper of the dog is a minor.”

This strict liability law is contrary to many states that follow the “one bite” rule, which gives dog owners protection from liability the first time their dog harms someone.

 

Are you considering filing a personal injury claim? Read these 11 frequently asked questions first. 

 

Damages

Damages recoverable in personal injury actions generally include:

  • Reimbursement for medical expenses
  • Consequential out-of-pocket expenses
  • Incidental expenses arising from the injuries
  • Compensation for pain and suffering

Whether at trial or through an agreed-upon settlement, the damages generally must be reasonably based upon admissible evidence to compensate the injured for past, present, and future harm.

Lost wages and lost earning capacity proximately resulting from the injury are also recoverable. This means that if you miss work or lose the ability to work because of an accident that is the fault of another person’s negligence, you can recover damages from the responsible party.

The law also allows spouses and certain relatives to recover damages for loss of companionship and loss of affection arising from the injury. There is no limit on the amount of damages an injured party may recover.

Medical Malpractice Claims

While some states, like Massachusetts, have caps on the amount of damages that a victim of malpractice can receive, New Hampshire has no limit.

 

Personal Injury Compensation Claims in Massachusetts

Statute of Limitations

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for most personal injury compensation claims is three years from the date of the incident. There are exceptions to this consideration, which is why consulting an attorney is important if you have suffered an injury as the result of another’s negligence or an intentional act.

Medical malpractice laws have several additional considerations because it is not always possible to identify specifically when an injury occurred due to someone else’s negligence. The statute of limitations in these cases can range from three to seven years depending on a number of variables. A knowledgeable attorney should be able to answer any questions you may have about potential claims.

Modified Comparative Fault Rules

Just like New Hampshire, Massachusetts follows the 51% rule under the modified comparative fault law. The plaintiff cannot recover if he has the same degree of fault (50%) or is found to be more at fault for the accident or injury than the defendant(s). 

personal injury compensation claim

Auto and Motorcycle Accidents

Massachusetts is a “No Fault” state when it comes to auto and motorcycle accidents. If you own and register a car or a truck in the state, you are required to buy PIP insurance, or Personal Injury Protection coverage.

Depending on your coverage level, PIP insurance will pay for the first $2,000 or $8,000 of expenses. It is important to note that PIP insurance only applies to car and truck insurance, not motorcycle insurance. In order to file a personal injury claim in a “No Fault” state such as Massachusetts, you must show that you suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident or have resulting medical bills that exceed $2,000.

Dog Bites

Massachusetts also has strict liability for dog bites. The Massachusetts dog bite law specifically states:

“If any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or if the owner or keeper be a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, is under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action.”

Damages

Massachusetts follows the same rules as New Hampshire when it comes to damages. Damages recoverable in personal injury actions generally include:

  • Reimbursement for medical expenses
  • Consequential out-of-pocket expenses
  • Incidental expenses arising from the injuries
  • Compensation for pain and suffering

Also similar to New Hampshire’s rules, the damages must be reasonably based on admissible evidence. This is to compensate the injured party for past, current, and future harm.

If you lose wages because you cannot work or will earn less in the future because of the injury you suffered, you can recover these losses as damages. Therefore, it is important to track time missed from work because of an accident and consider how the injury may affect your future ability to earn wages.

Under Massachusetts law, spouses and some relatives may be able to recover damages as well. This can be for the loss of companionship and the loss of affection that is the result of the person’s injury. There is no limit to the amount of damages an injured party may recover.  

Medical Malpractice Claims

In Massachusetts, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $500,000.

 

This overview should provide some basic information regarding the laws related to personal injury compensation claims in your state. How the law applies, however, includes many nuances that can require complicated analysis to assess each fact pattern.

This is why, even if you just have legal questions about a potential claim, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding the specifics of your case. An attorney will be able to help you determine whether or not you have a viable claim and how best to move forward to get the compensation you deserve.

Sherman Law has represented personal injury victims and their families in the Portsmouth, NH area for over 25 years. If you or a family member has been injured, you need experienced and effective representation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

 

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