Imagine you have just moved to our beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire, and a friend comes to visit you in your new surroundings. You decide to take your friend on a scenic drive along the Amoskeag Millyard Scenic and Cultural Byway to show off your new town’s historic landmarks and boutiques, when suddenly you’re involved in a car accident, a serious one, and your friend is injured.
Like most other states, New Hampshire is an “at-fault” state, so the driver who was responsible for an accident is responsible for any injuries, medical bills, and property damage that resulted from the accident. So if you are found to have been the at-fault driver that caused your friend’s injuries from the accident–even if you aren’t arrested or even ticketed for the accident–your passenger friend can sue you.
New Hampshire is a Fault State
In states that have “no-fault” insurance systems, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident; the injured person files a claim with their own insurance company to get compensation for their injuries. But in New Hampshire, an injured car accident victim can either:
- File a first-party claim with his or her own insurance company, which will in turn probably file a claim against the at-fault driver;
- File a third-party claim with the at-fault’s driver’s insurance company; or
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
New Hampshire is also unique in that unlike other states, it doesn’t require drivers to carry auto insurance. It does require that drivers either carry insurance or be able to prove that they have the financial means to cover property damage and medical costs related to injuries, so most New Hampshire drivers choose to carry auto insurance so they aren’t hit with those costs out-of-pocket.
New Hampshire Revised Statutes Section 264.25 also requires drivers to notify the Division of Motor Vehicles of an auto accident within 15 days if there was more than $1,000 in property damage or if someone was injured or killed in the accident. And in New Hampshire, accident victims have a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the accident to file any kind of personal injury claim.
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Determining who was at fault in a car accident can be tricky. In the above-mentioned scenario, your friend’s insurance company could claim that you were guilty of “distracted driving” as at the time of the accident, you were busy pointing out some historical landmark rather than focusing on driving.