Contact C. Kevin Leonard for a free case evaluation:
1-800-240-1988 or firstname.lastname@example.org
November 7/8, 2012: We experienced our first snowfall of the year here in the Concord area. Even with minimal snow accumulation, the Union Leader was reporting “numerous” fender-benders, rollovers, and cars skidding off highways. The newspaper’s report is a timely reminder that we all need to be careful and adjust our approach to getting around at this time of year, whether that means driving from place to place or simply walking there.
Snow and ice mean less traction, which means that you need to be more careful when accelerating, braking, and turning your vehicle. Increase your following and stopping distances and plan further ahead for things like red lights, lane changes, and intersections. If you do not already have a set, you should strongly consider obtaining a set of dedicated winter snow tires. Modern snow tires are remarkable in their ability to transform a vehicle that is unruly and difficult to drive on normal tires into a manageable, safe to drive means of transport. They are probably the cheapest and most satisfying form of insurance you will ever purchase.
We represent many people who are injured in slip and fall cases. Just like snow tires for your car, it is also important to wear proper footwear for protection. Walkways and parking lots are frequently more dangerous than the highways at this time of year. We are reminded every year that some businesses and apartment complexes are too lax in preventing snow and ice build up on their premises, which leads to slip and fall accidents. Use the right footwear, keep a watchful eye out for slippery spots, and watch where you are walking are critical for your protection. If you own a business or apartment building, and want to avoid slip and fall claims, get out there and aggressively treat those walkways and parking lots with sand and salt. It can only help you with your insurance premiums.
Winter makes getting around safely much more difficult, but it can be managed with an investment in good safety equipment like snow tires and boots, and the simple exercise of due care, whether you are the person walking and driving, or the facility owner responsible for mitigating the risk of snow and ice accumulation.
If you have been injured in a car accident or a slip and fall accident, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney such as one of the attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Call us at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.
By Jason R.L. Major – Personal Injury Lawyer
A non-lawyer co-worker recently asked me a question about the concept of “liability.” The question went something like this: “You lawyers are always talking about liability, but how does a regular person with no legal training know if I’ll be liable for something I do?”
Now, this is a broad question so it would be impossible to give a “one-size-fits-all” test answer. However, if we’re talking about normal, everyday life – the things one does every day like driving, walking through crowds, maintaining your home or place of work, and otherwise interacting with other people, there is an underlying concept which defines whether you might be legally liable to someone else for something you do.
First of all, the idea of “being liable” to someone presupposes a “tort claim,” which is a claim you make for recovery of damages when someone does something (or fails to do something that they should have) and you are injured as a result. There are four primary elements to any tort claim. They are (1) a duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) that is the cause of (4) an injury. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll concentrate on the concept of duty. Through her question, my co-worker was really asking “what is the duty I have to others to avoid being held liable if something goes wrong?”
Under New Hampshire law, whether you have a duty to others is controlled by the concept of “foreseeability.” Justice Cardozo, a famous judge from New York, said in an equally famous (at least to lawyers) case back in 1928 that “[t]he risk reasonably to be perceived defines the duty to be obeyed.” What does that mean? Basically it means that you have to take an objective look at what you are doing, judge whether it presents a risk to others, and do what is reasonable to mitigate that risk. In other words, if you can foresee that not being careful in whatever task you are doing might cause harm to someone, you have a “duty” to anyone who you can foresee being harmed.
If you have been injured because of the fault of someone else, contact Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form to see if one of our experienced personal injury lawyers may be able to help you.
Filing a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and there are many different steps involved before the case is resolved. One of these steps may involve an examiner by a medical examiner, which is a doctor hired by the defendant’s insurance company. This is sometimes referred to as an “independent” medical examination but that is not accurate. Instead, this examination should be called a Defense Medical Examination.
It’s important to keep in mind that the medical examiner is NOT your doctor and they were hired to assist the defense in disproving your claim or minimizing the extent of your injuries. Given this fact, you should be prepared by your lawyer ahead of time and know what to expect before your appointment so that you don’t do anything that might hurt your case.
Here are a few suggestions:
Be concise when answering questions. When asked about your pain or symptoms, state them clearly and concisely. Rambling on may result in your saying the wrong thing, or mentioning something that may hurt your case in the long run. Keep it to the point and you will be fine.
Be polite and cooperative. There is no need to be hostile with the medical examiner, even though you know they are not on your side. Be as pleasant as you can and do as he or she asks. For example, if the doctor requests that you bend or twist, do so to the best of your ability but within your limits.
Avoid exaggeration. The medical examiner is looking for people who get carried away when describing their pain. Going overboard may make you appear to be dishonest or exaggerating will only hurt your case.
Know your condition and don’t minimize it. Although it’s good to be concise in your answers, you should also be sure not to leave out anything important when it involves your pain and symptoms. Be specific and accurate in your list of limitations and complaints so that everything important is properly documented.
Understand the details of your claim. The medical examiner may ask you specific questions about your case, like the date of the incident, the details of what happened, or the names of doctors you have consulted with. Know this information ahead of time so that you’re prepared and confident.
Try not to be emotional. Certainly the experience of being injured can be emotional, and dealing with the pain and suffering is upsetting. But try to stay as focused as possible when meeting with the medical examiner. Leaving the emotion out of it can make the visit go much more quickly and smoothly.
Be honest. If a medical attorney has agreed that you are, in fact, a victim, there should be no reason to lie or stretch the truth when visiting with an independent medical examiner. Doing so will only serve to hurt your case so remember to keep it honest.
These are just a few suggestions to help prepare you for this part of your case. An experienced personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney from Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, will sit down with you to discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have before you go to the appointment. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can make a difference between a winning case or a loss. Call our office at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our contact form online.
This is Part II of the series on avoiding both personal injury and liability due to winter weather. In the first part, we discussed some winter driving issues. In this installment, we’ll discuss staying on your feet, and making sure your guests do as well.
In Part I, we made the recommendation to purchase and install a set of snow tires on your car to give yourself addition bite on slippery roads. Just like your car transmits all of your intentions through the four contact patches of your tires, your body transmits all of its intentions about walking (if you’re lucky!) through the contact patches of your shoes. For this reason, it is obviously important to choose winter appropriate footwear before venturing out in the slush, snow, and ice. Deep treads are recommended, as are shoes with good ankle support to keep your feet squarely placed on the ground.
Winter driving strategies also have parallels when it comes to transiting by foot. Like you would in your car, look for those paths that are well-worn by previous pedestrians. Use caution in planting your feet when you are forced to cover areas of uncertain traction. Try to avoid carrying heavy loads that place you off-balance when you are required to cover slippery ground. Avoid the temptation to rush.
In addition to taking care of your own safety with regard to winter-time walking, you may also have a duty to take precautions for the safety of others. If you are a landowner or business owner, you have a duty to take all reasonable precautions to mitigate against foreseeable risks to guests. In the winter, that means making sure that the walkways that guests are likely to use are properly shoveled and treated to reduce their slipperiness.
In the next blog, we’ll provide additional tips for dealing with imminent loss of control when you are driving on wintery roads.
The next several weeks will find many of visiting stores and malls to do holiday shopping, as the temperatures plummet and ice forms underfoot. Commercial establishments owe a duty of reasonable care to keep the pathways and parking lots that you use to access their places of business free of dangerous accumulations of snow or ice. Many such establishments do a fine job of this, but some do not. Be on the lookout for ice, so you can avoid it and avoid a fall. But, even if you are careful, you may still have an accident. You may find yourself striding along a sidewalk, approaching the entrance to a mall or store, and suddenly your feet come out from under you. You just fell on a patch of black ice because the people responsible for maintaining the premises did not salt or sand appropriately.
Of course, your first thoughts in such a moment will concern your injuries, if any, and the pain you are suffering. In the event you decide to bring a claim later, however, it is best if you (or a friend or loved one on your behalf) can do a couple of things. First, it is tremendously helpful to have photographs of the accident scene and of the dangerous conditions that caused the fall. Photos will help show how visible the dangerous condition was, and will also come in handy if the store decides to oppose your claim by contending that the area was appropriately sanded or salted. Second, the accident should be reported to the store so the store has notice of the accident and has the opportunity to investigate promptly.
Be safe out there, but if you have an accident, take the steps that will help you protect your rights. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have questions
Because your case is important to you, we suggest you consider the following criteria/factors when you choose a personal injury lawyer:
Select an Attorney with a Focused Practice
Some lawyers and law firms try to do it all. It is important to choose an attorney who focuses on certain areas of the law. You need to find out how much of that attorney’s practice is in the area of personal injury for victims.
Select an Attorney with Trial Experience
Many lawyers claim to handle personal injury cases. Just look at the ads in the yellow pages or on TV. It is important to choose an attorney that has actual experience taking cases to trial. Insurance companies know which lawyers will take a case to trial and which lawyers just want to settle a case fast. Without an experienced trial lawyer on your side, it puts you and your case at a disadvantage.
Select an Attorney with a Track Record
Your personal injury case is important to you because it affects you and your family. Your case is the opportunity for you to get fully compensated for your damages. It is important to choose an attorney that has a record of accomplishment and can deliver a full and fair trial verdict or settlement.
Select an Attorney with the Necessary Resources
Many personal injury cases require serious investigation and are expensive to prepare. Your attorney will need to devote not only time to your case but the resources to hire medical experts, accident reconstruction experts or vocational rehabilitation experts, if necessary. The lawyer should have staff dedicated to your case. It is important to choose an attorney that has the resources to fully prepare your case.
Select an Attorney that Represents only Accident Victims
Many law firms try to have it both ways. They have some lawyers that represent accident victims and other lawyers representing insurance companies. It is important to choose an attorney whose loyalty is easy to read – one that only represents accident victims.
Select an Attorney Who Receives Referrals From Other Attorneys and Satisfied Clients
Some lawyers get most of their cases from an out-of-state 1-800 number or a telephone book ad. Find out the source of the attorney’s personal injury cases. It is important to choose attorneys who receive most of their cases from referrals from other lawyers or satisfied clients because that is a reflection on the quality and skill of their representation.
Select an Attorney Who Will take Your Case on a Contingency Fee
Make sure the attorney will agree that you will not pay attorney’s fees unless you recover in your case. It is important to choose an attorney who will believe in your case and agree to work for a contingency fee.
In a case with serious injuries, having an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer representing you against the insurance company will help protect your claim and maximize your recovery of damages.
Personal injuries happen every day in New Hampshire. These injuries may have a long-lasting impact on the accident victims and their families. Your personal injury claim is your one chance to put your life back together and recover all damages for your injury. Having a lawyer on your side can help you with two important parts of your case. The first thing is to make sure you get prompt and necessary medical treatment. The second important thing is to make sure you receive full compensation for your injury.
Insurance companies have their own experienced adjusters or lawyers whose only job is to process personal injury claims and reduce the amounts paid to victims like you. They rely on the fact that many accident victims do not get an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer. Without your own personal injury attorney, insurance companies count on the fact that you are unsure of what to do. Without the necessary experience, it is not surprising that many injured persons give a recorded statement or provide signed authorizations for their medical records without legal advice. Insurance companies are also aware that you do not know the fair value of your injury, which means you may accept a “quick and cheap” settlement. Insurance companies want to pay you the least amount of money while your personal injury lawyer’s job is to get you the full and fair amount for your injury.
Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Case
In cases with significant injuries, you need a lawyer representing you against the insurance companies. Choosing the right lawyer for your claim may make a difference in the amount of compensation you recover in your case. That is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you against the insurance company. Count the number of lawyer advertising pages in your phonebook. There are probably 10 or 20 pages of lawyers with full size ads. Everyone has seen the 1-800-TV ads for lawyers claiming to be experienced accident lawyers. Just because a lawyer has paid for expensive advertising does not mean that the lawyer is right for your case or even has the actual trial experience needed to protect your claim.
Before you “hire” your lawyer you should learn if the lawyer has actually had any trial experience. Trial experience is one of the most important factors to consider in hiring your attorney.
Insurance companies know if your attorney is skilled and experienced in bringing a case to trial. The threat of an experienced trial attorney taking your case to trial puts pressure on the insurance company to offer you fair compensation. The insurance company may raise the amount to resolve your case if your attorney is willing and able to go to trial to fight for your case. Without this leverage, the insurance company will try to dictate the value of your case. Having an inexperienced lawyer on your side may put your case at a disadvantage.
Make sure you protect your claim and maximize your recovery by having an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer represent you.
The goal of personal injury law is to have the person responsible for the accident fully compensate the accident victim for the injuries. Although insurance companies are experienced in valuing personal injury claims, they know that you are unfamiliar with what your claim is really worth. Under New Hampshire law, injured people are entitled to recover full, fair and reasonable compensation for their injuries.
There is no simplistic formula or mathematical calculation to determine the value of a personal injury claim. Instead, the lawyer must make this determination based on years of experience in handling personal injury cases. Generally, the value of your claim is based on two factors: fault of the parties and the type of damages suffered.
Who’s At Fault?
The degree or amount of fault of each person involved in the accident factors into the value of your case. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, we can assess whether the other person was completely at fault, mostly at fault or just a little at fault. Insurance companies will try to reduce your recovery if you were partly at fault for the accident. If fault is clear on the other person, that will prevent the insurance company from using that tactic to lower your recovery.
Types of Recoverable Damages
Looking at the types of damages suffered in an accident can help to understand the value of your claim. Damage awards can include the following:
- Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Expenses (if any)
- Pain and Suffering
- Lost Wages
- Impairment of Earning Capacity
- Emotional Distress
- Loss of Future Enjoyment of Life
Above all, determining what a personal injury claim is worth only comes from years of experience. This is an important reason to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Several attorneys filed suit against the State recently to try to obtain proper funding for our judicial system. It is broken and I could not sit idly by and let it be gutted by excessive legislative budget cuts so I joined in as counsel.
Each year 230,000 court cases are filed in New Hampshire.
Certain types of court cases have specific time frames in which to act and those are set by the legislature. For example, domestic violence cases and criminal cases require certain scheduling dates by law. Thus, work on such cases means other cases must be delayed if judge time is lacking due to vacancies. For instance, in 2009, there were 5,300 cases of domestic violence with hearings required between five or thirty days of filing, depending on the request.
Stalking cases were 1,470 in number, with the same time requirements. 9,600 landlord/tenant cases must be heard ten days from service of process. Involuntary emergency admissions to the N.H. Hospital were filed 1,700 times last year and they must be heard within three days of hospitalization.
Families are also heavily affected by the lack of a judge to help decide their disputes. 7,200 juvenile cases, 10,000 new divorce or family petitions and 7,000 closed cases reopened for parenting or lack of child support issues were heard last year alone.
Judges cannot decide cases without someone processing them, scheduling them, getting orders out, and otherwise processing paperwork. Each month thousands of orders have to go to the office of child support enforcement, various criminal law agencies, and to parties involved in marital and civil cases.
In the non-criminal area our State Constitution’s Bill of Rights (Part I, Article 14), says that everyone is entitled to a certain remedy for all injuries they may receive and that they are to obtain it “completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay.”
The purpose of that provision is to make civil remedies readily available and to guard against arbitrary denial of access to the courts. It is an equal protection clause because, whether you are suing someone or being sued, you want to have your case resolved as soon as possible.
Last year there were $3.1 million of cuts out of a judicial branch budget of about $65 million, with another $2.2 million hit in May. Concord District Court, which is a three-judge court, is now operating with one full-time judge. Due to the reduction in personnel a form letter went out this summer canceling all civil trials.
Small claims cases were all cancelled in the Manchester District Court this summer for an indefinite period.
On July 22, Merrimack County Superior Court began closing to the public daily from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. As of June 30, it had nearly 500 case files with pieces of mail that had yet to be docketed in the court record, with some documents dating back to March. Another 150 trial and hearing notices had not been sent out and more than 350 files contained court orders that had not been issued.
HILLSBOROUGH SUPERIOR COURT CLERKS TO CLOSE OFFICES
TUESDAY AND THURSDAY AFTERNOONS
Staff shortages prompt move to focus on reduction of case backlog
CONCORD, October 1 – The clerk’s office in Nashua for Hillsborough County Superior Court North and Hillsborough County Superior Court South will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday beginning October 5 to allow uninterrupted time for processing cases and related materials.
Both clerk’s offices, which had been closed from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., will reopen at 8 a.m. daily, beginning Oct. 5 with implementation of the new Tuesday/Thursday afternoon closings.
After 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, no telephone or counter service will be available to lawyers, litigants or the public in the clerk’s office during those hours; the automated telephone system will be monitored so that emergency requests are addressed promptly. A “drop box” will be set up inside the courthouse at 30 Spring Street in Nashua for filing documents during the hours when the clerk’s office is closed.
As of today, the Merrimack County Superior Court, which had been closed down since last August on weekday afternoons to work on reducing the case backlog, will be open for a full day on Fridays. The clerk’s office in Concord remains closed to lawyers, litigants and the public Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for uninterrupted case processing.
Several other court locations statewide, faced with backlogs and staff shortages, also have limited public operating hours to allow uninterrupted time for employees to process cases.
Superior Court Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn said the schedule will be reviewed every 30 days to determine when the clerk’s office can return to routine office hours. Reductions in the court system budget have required administrators to maintain 71 full-time non-judicial vacancies, which means court locations have fewer employees on staff to carry out day to day clerical responsibilities.
These cutbacks affect all citizens who seek justice. I will do all I can to fight for fair funding. If you have a delay horror story, email me at email@example.com