At Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, we handle a variety of personal injury claims, but far and away the most common one is injuries as a result of car accidents. With so many cars and drivers on the road, it’s really no surprise. With so many types of vehicles and so many dangerous scenarios, there a lot of ways a crash can happen including:
- Hit and Run Accidents
- DUI Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Collisions
- Truck Crashes
- Aggressive Driving Accidents
- Road Condition Accidents
- Negligent Driving Accidents
- Distracted Driving Collisions
- Violating the Rules of the Road
- Rear End Accidents
- Speeding Collisions
A car accident can be physically, financially, and emotionally traumatizing for you and your loved ones. Knowledge is an important tool in keeping safe. We’ve provided this page so you know the risks, rights, and responsibilities involved in auto accidents in New Hampshire.
What to Do When You Are In an Auto Accident
Even when you practice defensive driving and maintain awareness of your surroundings, there is always a chance that you could be involved in an auto accident.
After a car accident you should try to take a moment to inspect yourself for injuries and to check on your passengers. If you or anyone else is hurt, you should call 911. Even if no one appears to be hurt, it is still advisable to seek medical attention after a car accident.
Check on the passengers of the other vehicle(s). If they appear to be injured or are unresponsive, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to move them unless you believe that they are in danger where they are—if their vehicle is on fire, for example.
Exchange information with the other driver(s). This information should include:
- Driver’s Name
- Driver’s Address
- Driver’s License Number
- Registration Number of the Vehicle
- Name and Address of Each Occupant
- Name of Driver’s Insurance Company
It is advisable to make a note of the vehicle(s) make and model, the location of the accident, and the contact information of eyewitnesses in the area. Further, creating your own documentation is generally a good idea. You can use your smartphone or camera to get photographic evidence of the accident.
A copy of the Operator’s Report can be found here. It must be mailed within 15 days to the DMV at the following address:
NH Dept. of Safety
23 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305
The report will go on your driving record, but fault will not be assigned on the record.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should contact a lawyer who can help you collect evidence, determine your options, and help you fight for the settlement you deserve.
Hit and Run Accidents
Even if you believe you are not at fault for an auto accident, you should never leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information or speaking to the police. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in fines, loss of driving privileges, or even arrest. This remains true even if the accident was with a parked car. If you are unable to wait for the vehicle’s owner to return, you may leave your complete contact information and insurance information on their windshield.
If you are the victim of a hit and run, provide your information to a police officer arriving on the scene or to one at the nearest police station. They will instruct you on what to do next. It is also strongly advised to contact an attorney, as they can help you determine your options.
When You Are Involved In a Car Accident with an Uninsured Driver
New Hampshire is one of the few states that does not have a mandatory car insurance law. However, it is state law that all at-fault drivers pay for the damages, both medical and proprietary, resulting from an auto accident even if they are uninsured. As a result, most drivers in the state tend to have car insurance. The law does require that all drivers with insurance carry uninsured motorist coverage.
If the police respond to an accident and a driver’s insurance information isn’t available, they will issue that driver an Insurance Verification Form DSMV 385 (or “Blue Card.”) The completed form is the responsibility of the driver or operator and must be mailed or presented to the NH Department of Safety at the address above.
The state can and will suspend an at-fault driver’s license and registration privileges until they can prove they can cover the damages of the car accident.
If an uninsured driver is from out of state, the state can suspend their driving privileges within New Hampshire and alert their home state of the suspension.
Obtaining a Crash Report
A crash report can be an invaluable piece of evidence in auto accident personal injury cases. To obtain one, you must complete a Request for Motor Vehicle Records.
You may mail this request or submit it in person to the NH Department of Safety at the address listed above. There is a fee of $1.00 per page of the report with a minimum charge of $5.00. If you are mailing your request, you could send a check for five dollars and simply allow them to mail you back a bill for the rest of the fee.
To release a copy of an accident report from an accident you were involved in to a third party, you must sign a release on a record request form available from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It is strongly advised that you speak to a car accident lawyer about your case before taking action yourself.
Taking Action in an Auto Accident Lawsuit
The statute of limitations in New Hampshire is three years from the date of the car accident in most instances. This statute of limitations holds for both personal injury and property damage. If you fail to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out, your case will not be heard in court. Reaching out to an experienced auto accident attorney can help you file your claim in court.
Auto Accident Statistics in NH
The United States suffered 29,989 fatal car accidents in 2014. As a result, 32, 675 people lost their lives. That is 10.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and 1.8 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
New Hampshire lost 95 people in 89 fatal car accidents in 2014. Although that is down from 2013’s high of 135 deaths, even one life lost is too many.
New Hampshire has a small population relative to other states—only 1.3 million people live here. The crash fatality rate per 100,000 people within the state is 7.2, and the deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is 0.73. In comparison:
- Wyoming has a death per 100,000 people rate of 25.7. The population of Wyoming as of 2014 is 584, 153.
- Montana’s auto accident deaths per 100,000 is 18.8. In 2014, its population was 1,023,579.
- New Jersey had a population of 8.9 million people that same year. The state lost 6.2 people per 100,000 due to car crashes.
- Washington had a population of around 7 million people. In 2014, auto accidents claimed the lives of 6.5 people per 100,000 in the state.
- Minnesota lost 6.6 people per 100,000. It had a population of 5.4 million people
46% of fatal auto accident victims in New Hampshire were riding in ordinary cars. 18% were motorcyclists, and 15% were pickup or SUV occupants. Pedestrians made up 13%, and large trucks and bicycles constituted 5% altogether.
New Hampshire reports a seat belt compliance rate of 70%. This is far below the U.S. average of 87%. 78% of the passenger car occupants killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Only 22% of occupants killed were wearing a seat belt.
By a ratio 60:40, the majority of fatalities in New Hampshire car accidents were in single vehicle crashes. It is vitally important to be aware of road conditions and avoid aggressive or distracted behaviors while driving.
Drunk Driving Statistics
In New Hampshire, 49 drivers were killed in a car accident in 2014.
The national average of drivers killed with a known BAC result is 72%. New Hampshire’s percentage is significantly higher than the national average. In fact, New Hampshire has the highest rate of killed drunk drivers in the nation.
States with lower percentages of drivers killed with known BAC results include:
- Massachusetts (67%)
- California (80%)
- New York (80%)
- Texas (52%)
- Colorado (82%)
- Arizona (80%)
All of the states listed have significantly high populations than New Hampshire.
You should never operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol. It is illegal and will put you, your passengers, and other people on the road in danger.
Deaths by County
- Hillsborough County (containing Nashua and Manchester) is the most populous county in the state. It had the highest number of auto accidents fatalities in 2014.
- Rockingham County (containing Portsmouth) is the second most populous county, and had the second highest number of fatalities.
- Coos County (containing Berlin and Lancaster) is the least populous county in New Hampshire and had the least number of car accident deaths.
In New Hampshire, 21 deaths involved an intersection. Hillsborough County had the overwhelming majority of those deaths with 10, while Coos, Grafton, and Sullivan Counties did not report any deaths involving intersections.
Speeding contributed to 47 fatalities–nearly half of all auto accident related deaths in the state. Hillsborough County and Rockingham County each lost 11 people due to speeding. Coos County reported no fatalities as a result of speeding.
- Rockingham County had the most crashes involving an impaired driver (9).
- Hillsborough reported 8 accidents involving an impaired driver.
- Belknap County reported the highest number of impaired driver accidents by population proportion.
In 2014, Belknap, Cheshire, Grafton, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan Counties did not lose any pedestrians to car accidents. Hillsborough lost 9 pedestrians.
Auto Accident Injuries
Car accidents may involve high speeds and heavy force and others can be caused by vehicles going the lawful speed limits. Even nonfatal crashes can lead to serious, debilitating injuries with long-lasting physical and financial ramifications. Sometimes, the adrenaline released during an accident can mask the symptoms of injuries for several days after a crash. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you seek medical attention after a car accident.
Almost any bone can be broken or shattered in a car accident:
- Broken ribs can make breathing difficult, puncture vital organs, or lead to complications like pneumonia.
- Broken leg bones can make walking difficult or impossible, and in serious cases permanently damage your leg. Car accidents are the number one cause of broken femurs, the strongest bone in the body.
- Humans in sudden physical danger instinctively raise their arms to their head to protect themselves. Therefore, arms breaks are common during car accidents. Broken arms can make everyday tasks challenging and can result in lost wages due to lengthy rehabilitation.
- Injuries to the spine can seriously hinder mobility and result in intense pain. In extreme cases, they could even lead to paralysis.
Back and Neck Injuries
Car accidents often involve sudden stops from high speed, and this shift can put a lot of stress upon the human body. The soft tissues of the back and neck are especially vulnerable in these cases. A back sprain or a neck sprain (commonly called whiplash) can both make movement difficult, cause consistent pain, and require surgery. Additionally, the symptoms of a back sprain or whiplash may take several days to reveal themselves. Again, it is important that you seek medical attention as quickly as you can after a car accident. You may have suffered an injury without realizing it.
Head and Brain Injuries
Perhaps the most dangerous injury of them all is one to the brain. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause permanent damage that can radically affect your everyday life:
- The sudden change in speed caused by an auto accident may cause the brain to slam into the hard bone of the skull. Even if you do not hit your head on any surface during a car crash, you could still suffer a TBI
- A concussion is a mild TBI. Symptoms include:
- Headache or feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Slurred Speech
- The damage of TBI’s are cumulative—even a concussion can contribute to serious problems in the future.
- More serious forms of TBI include contusions (bruises on the brain tissue) or brain bleeding. Both require immediate medical attention to prevent potentially fatal complications.
- A TBI can radically alter a victim’s cognitive abilities, including their memory, speech, mobility, and even their personality.
- TBI’s have been linked to the development of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
- TBI’s can result in a comatose state or death.
Early detection and treatment can help reduce the complications and damage of a TBI. You should seek medical attention immediately after a car accident.
If you end up requiring an auto accident lawyer, one of the things they’ll want to look at will be a doctor’s report, detailing your injuries. That will be the foundation of any auto accident case. The lawyers at BBCRD can obtain these reports from your doctors with a release signed by you.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Safety
New Hampshire does not currently have a law requiring motorcycle helmets for riders over 18 years of age. However, the Center for Disease Control states that wearing a motorcycle helmet could reduce the chances of a TBI by 69% and the chance of dying in an accident by as much as 42%.
In 2014, New Hampshire lost 3 motorcyclists who died while wearing a helmet. 14 died without one.
Even though it is not required by law for adults, it is still advisable to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle.
To learn more about the practice of Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, use the form to the right or call a car accident lawyer at 1-800-371-3228 today!