Car accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Let's say you're on your way home, merging onto I-293 from downtown Manchester. Suddenly, the car behind you crashes into your vehicle. What should you do? Who do you call? Here is some information to help you better understand the New Hampshire car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in New Hampshire?
Yes, in some situations. You are required to file a Motor Vehicle Accident Report with the Division of Motor Vehicles within 15 days of the accident if: (1) someone was injured or killed, and/or (2) the accident resulted in property damage exceeding $1,000.
New Hampshire Car Insurance Laws
In New Hampshire, you may "live free" of car insurance if you so choose. New Hampshire laws do not require its drivers to carry car insurance, but proof of financial responsibility may be required in cases of a conviction, car accident, or administrative action. A driver is required to pay for the costs of bodily injury and property damage if he or she caused the accident. Most drivers in New Hampshire purchase auto insurance to avoid out-of-pocket expenses in case of such accident.
If you decide to carry car insurance in New Hampshire, you must have the following coverages in your policy: (1) liability coverage, (2) medical payments coverage, and (3) uninsured motorist coverage. In New Hampshire, the minimum limits for your liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage are:
The minimum limit for medical payments coverage is $1,000. For more protection, you may choose to add additional coverages, such as auto liability coverage, bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, collision coverage, and more.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire follows the traditional "fault" system when it comes to car accident cases and insurance claims. If the other driver caused the accident, you have three options to recover damages: (1) file a claim with your own insurance company, (2) file a "third-party claim" with the other driver's insurance company, or (3) file a lawsuit against that driver.
If you file a claim with an insurance company, the company has 10 days to respond. The insurance company will first investigate your claim to calculate any damages. It will then either offer you a settlement check or deny your claim.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, the most common types of car accident damages are medical expenses, property damages, loss of wages, and physical pain and suffering. New Hampshire does not award punitive damages, which is usually awarded to punish the other driver for his or her malicious or reckless conduct.
If you are partially at fault for your injuries, New Hampshire will apply the modified comparative negligence standard. Under this rule, you can still recover damages as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault. The amount of damages you recover will be reduced by the amount proportion to your fault. However, if you are more at fault than the other driver, you are completely barred from recovering any damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in New Hampshire?
You have three years from the day of the accident to file a lawsuit for both personal injury and property damage. The purpose of this time limit is to discourage the indefinite threat of lawsuits, so make sure to keep track of the deadline before you lose your right to sue.
Get Legal Help With Your Car Accident Settlement
If you're wondering whether an insurance company is offering you a fair settlement check, consider contacting an experienced attorney in your area before you sign any agreements. Even if your car accident case doesn't go to court, you may want to discuss your legal options with a New Hampshire accident attorney to get the full amount of damages you're entitled to under the law.
Contact a qualified attorney.