Car Accidents

No matter how safe of a driver you may be, you can never control the actions of others on the road. Negligence, fatigue, cellphone use, visibility issues and the New Hampshire weather are all factors that can impair motorists and negatively affect their ability to safely navigate the roadways. At Sherman Law, we have seen first-hand the serious ramifications that can occur as a result, such as:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Side impact crashes
  • Rear-end accidents
  • Vehicle rollovers
  • Fatal car accidents

In instances of car accidents that result in personal injury and/or damages, we apply our legal expertise to help you find resolution and closure. We help our clients address matters related to medical costs, insurance claims and property damage.

In addition to car accident cases, we also have experience handling motor vehicle personal injury matters involving:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Car Accidents

Whether you or someone you know has recently been in a car accident, below are some of our most frequently asked questions to help you navigate through the process.

What should I do immediately following a car accident?
Do I need to seek medical attention, even if I’m not injured?
What if the other party does not have insurance?
Who is responsible for fixing my car?
What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
Do I need to consult with a lawyer?
Will my case go to court?
Do I bill my medical care to my health insurance?
What if I was in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
Should I sign a medical release form?
Who will pay my salary or wages if I miss work because of my injuries?
What if my car was totaled?
What is GAP insurance?
What if I was working when I was in the accident?
What are the hands free driving laws in New Hampshire?

Q: What should I do immediately following a car accident?
A: Your actions in the moments immediately following a car accident will be crucial for the outcome of your case.

One of the most important things you can do is to take pictures of the scene. This includes photographing:

  • All vehicles involved in the accident
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Lighting on the road
  • Any physical injuries

You should also communicate with the other driver(s) and obtain copies of their information, most importantly their name, license plate, address, phone number and insurance. You should confirm their information by asking to see their driver’s license.

Also be observant of the other driver. Could they be intoxicated? Might they have been texting while driving? If anyone is injured, there is damage to any of the vehicles or you suspect negligence from the other party, the police should be called so there is a record of the incident.

Q: Do I need to seek medical attention, even if I’m not injured?
A: Immediately following an accident, the human body starts pumping adrenaline that can make injuries sometimes difficult to detect. Because of this, many accident victims avoid seeking medical attention. This can be detrimental to a case if the victim starts to experience pain once the adrenaline has left their body.

If there are any visible injuries from the accident, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if the crash was minor and you’re feeling fine, it is advisable to at least make an appointment with your primary care doctor for an examination. This is for your benefit as it ensures that you gain as much information about your potential injuries or health issues as possible. If you do not seek medical care, the person responsible for your injuries and his or her insurance company will likely claim that you were not injured. We also frequently see arguments raised about the amount of time between an accident and the first medical appointment. Insurers argue that this raises questions about the severity of injuries. In short, if you have any question about whether you sustained an injury, seek medical attention.

Q: What if the other party does not have insurance?
A: In New Hampshire, car insurance is not required. If you are in an accident and the other party does not have any coverage, they are still required to prove that they have the ability to pay damages of up to $25,000. If they are unable to do this, they can potentially lose their license.

If the party at fault does not have coverage, you still may have coverage under your own insurance policy for your injuries. This is referred to as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If you are unsure of what your policy includes, you should review your insurance coverage documents, particularly the declarations of coverage page.

Q: Who is responsible for fixing my car?
A: Generally, your own insurance policy provides coverage for damage to your vehicle under the comprehensive liability coverage section. If this does not fully cover your loss, it is possible to then try to recover the difference from the party responsible for the loss.

Q: What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
A: New Hampshire is a comparative negligence state. This means that if you are 50% or more at fault for the accident, you cannot recover for the damage or injuries you sustained. If you are less than 50% at fault, you may recover for your damages or injuries. Your recovery will then be reduced by your degree of fault.

Q: Do I need to consult with a lawyer?
A: Car accidents involve a lot of different issues simultaneously occurring within a short amount of time after the accident. The police, your insurance company, the other party’s insurance adjusters, medical care providers, and others may contact you. You do not have to speak to insurance adjusters and should be particularly careful about speaking with anyone from an insurance company for another driver. This is because insurance adjusters are trained and quite skilled in framing questions a particular way that results in answers favorable to their Company. Sometimes they try to do this quickly after the accident when the full extent of injuries are not yet known, understanding that someone at this point is more likely to indicate that they were not injured. They then use this statement, made at a time when the full extent of the injuries was not fully known, against the person later.

Because of this, consulting with a lawyer early in the process is likely the best decision. Usually people involved in an accident have a lot of questions throughout the process. It is helpful to have someone knowledgeable about the process to answer them. It is also important that you control communications about the accident and your injuries so that everything is consistent and accurate. An experienced lawyer working for you will handle all communication ensuring that this happens and relieving you of some stress at what could be a difficult and confusing time. Many firms, including ours, offer free consultations.

Q: Will my case go to court?
A: Since every case is different, there is no way to predict if yours will end up in court. All car accident victims should understand that the circumstances of their incident will determine how their case is handled. The degree of injuries, responsibility disputes, insurance policy coverage amounts, and other factors can result in legal roadblocks that are not easily resolved without a trial. It is important to be prepared throughout all phases of the case for the different ways in which a case could turn.

Q: Do I bill my medical care to my health insurance?
A: Generally, you should use your health insurance initially for any medical care you require because of the accident. You should identify, however, that the injury or treatment is because of or at least follows a car accident. In some instances, you also may have insurance available through a MedPay coverage within your own insurance.

Many health insurance policies have a provision entitling your insurer to a medical lien. This allows them to recover some amount of money back from the amount they spent on your medical care and treatment. Your attorney should help you negotiate this amount.

Q: What if I was in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
A: In cases where a commercial vehicle is at fault for an accident, there are several possible sources of insurance coverage. The company, the driver, and other entities may have some responsibility for the damages or injuries. Often, commercial vehicles are required to have insurance policies with larger insurance coverage because commercial vehicles usually cause greater damage and injury. If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it is important that you consult an attorney that knows how to sort through insurance and coverage issues.

Q: Should I sign a medical release form?
A: After you receive medical attention, you may be approached by the other party for a release or authorization allowing it to obtain your medical records. You do not need to provide this. It is not recommended that you do so. It is especially not wise to provide a broad or blank authorization allowing this party to obtain all of your records regardless of time or relatedness to the accident.

Before you sign any release forms, make sure you consult with an attorney to see if it is a good idea. Your attorney will be able to communicate for you and protect your best interests.

Q: Who will pay my salary or wages if I miss work because of my injuries?
A: If you are injured in a car accident and cannot work, your car insurance will not cover your lost wages while you are recovering. There are however, disability insurance plans that can protect you and your family in case of a situation like this. You also might be entitled to coverage under a workers’ compensation policy if you were working at the time of the accident.

If claims are filed as a result of the accident, your lost wages should be included as a part of the damages that you seek to obtain. Generally, however, you will only recover these if the other party admits fault or a jury awards them as damages. Many times this can be months or even years after the accident.
If you have any questions about wages or salary payments, it is wise to contact an attorney who can sort through your options.

Q: What if my car was totaled?
A: If your car is totaled, your insurance plan may cover a rental car for a certain number of days. Some policies may also give you the option to extend the rental period. Otherwise, you will be responsible for arranging your own transportation from the date of the accident forward.

If you incur costs regarding this, you should maintain this calculation so that you can claim these expenses as part of any settlement or jury trial. You should contact your insurance company to see what they cover and make arrangements for alternative transportation.

Q: What is GAP insurance?
A: GAP insurance is offered by the finance company of your vehicle at the time of purchase. You are only able to purchase this at the same time you are purchasing your vehicle. It is the difference between the actual value of a vehicle and the amount still owed towards the financing.

GAP insurance can be helpful when your car is totaled in an accident, but is worth less than what you still owe. This results in a difference between the amount the insurance company pays you for the vehicle and the amount that you owe on the loan – called the GAP. When this happens, if you do not have GAP insurance, you remain responsible for paying this amount of money still owed. You will be paying on a loan toward a vehicle you no longer own or use.

Q: What if I was working when I was in the accident?
A: If you were working and involved in an accident, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. This provides coverage for your medical bills and may include payment of a weekly wage. If this happens, it is important that you immediately notify your employer of the accident so that they can file a First Report of Injury with the New Hampshire Department of Labor.

Q: What are the hands free driving laws in New Hampshire?
As of July 1, 2015, New Hampshire banned the use of hand-held phones while driving. You can read more about this law here and the related statutes below.

RSA 265:79-c – Use of Mobile Electronic Devices While Driving
RSA 265:105-a – Prohibited Text Messages and Device Usage While Operating a Motor Vehicle

Applying Our Expertise to Your Unique Situation

Portsmouth attorney John P. Sherman spent a significant portion of his legal career as an attorney at what was then the largest law firm in New Hampshire, Devine Millimet & Branch. Having defended nearly every type of personal injury case imaginable, including many catastrophic car accidents involving serious injury and trauma, he uses his vast experience to fight for the rights of his injured clients.

Sherman Law’s approach to handling personal injury car accident cases is comprehensive. We thoroughly analyze the underlying facts, use our knowledge of medical issues, employ our efficient staff and help our clients obtain and prepare all information that insurance companies require in order to assess and adjust your claim.

Essentially, we identify the issues, gather all relevant documentation and many times resolve matters before ever having to file a lawsuit.

Get the Help You Need

If you have sustained serious injuries in a car accident and need legal assistance that is aggressive, responsive, thorough and effective, we invite you to contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

If you have sustained a brain injury, nerve damage, a dislocated hip, an eye injury or any other impairment as the result of another driver’s negligence, rely on our firm to assist you. Likewise, if you or a loved one has suffered from catastrophic harm, such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury, trust in our law firm to help you obtain financial recovery that will be necessary for medical attention, rehabilitative care and long-term care needs.