Yes, New Hampshire is an at-fault state. Although many states have moved to a no-fault system for car accidents, New Hampshire is not one of them. Instead, it continues to matter who was responsible for an accident on New Hampshire roads.
Read on to learn more about New Hampshire’s insurance requirements and making an insurance claim after an accident.
New Hampshire’s Insurance Requirements
All drivers must either buy car insurance or otherwise show that they have sufficient assets to pay bills (called “proof of financial responsibility”). The state’s insurance minimums are:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 property damage (for damage to other people’s property)
- At least $1,000 in medical payments coverage
You also must buy uninsured motorist coverage, which will cover you in the event the other driver does not have insurance. It also can provide payments if the other driver’s insurance policy does not provide enough benefits to cover all of your losses.
Reporting Accidents: No-Fault versus At Fault
In a no-fault insurance system, injured motorists will contact their own insurance company for compensation when they get into an accident. Under the no-fault system, it does not matter who caused the accident (hence the name, “no-fault”). Florida, for example, has a no-fault system where injured motorists carry car insurance with personal injury protection benefits, called “PIP.”
Even if someone slams into them, a Florida resident has their medical bills sent to their own insurer, and also contacts their insurer for replacement of lost wages.
Things are different in New Hampshire and other at-fault states. Here, you do not necessarily make a claim on your own insurance company. Instead, you have a choice: you can make a claim on your own insurance company (a first-party claim) or on the at-fault driver’s insurance company (a third-party claim).
Generally, New Hampshire drivers will benefit more by making a first-party claim. Unless the other driver admits fault for the accident, you will need to convince their insurance company that they are responsible for the collision.
This can take a tremendous amount of time, so let your insurance company handle it. By making a first-party claim, you might have to pay your deductible, but you can get that reimbursed if the at-fault driver’s insurer makes payment.
Information to Provide after a Collision
You should report the accident to your insurer (or the at-fault driver’s insurer) within 24 hours of the accident, if not sooner. You will need to provide certain information, so make sure you gather it ahead of time:
- The location and time of the accident
- The names of any injured people
- The names and contact information of any witnesses
- A copy of the police report
You should hear back from your insurer within 10 working days after submitting your claim. Remember to cooperate with your insurance company as much as possible. They will want to hear your side of the story about what happened, so be as honest and detailed as possible.
You should also show your damaged vehicle to your insurer before having any repairs made. If your insurer wants you to submit a repair estimate, then you are only required by New Hampshire law to submit one estimate. Your insurer will need to pay for additional estimates if they want them.
Negotiating a Settlement
If you make a third-party claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then they will investigate the crash to determine whether their driver was responsible. If so, they will make a settlement offer to you.
Negotiating a settlement is very complicated, and you should not be surprised if the initial offer is low. Chances are, you will need to negotiate back and forth, supporting your request for more compensation with details about your physical and emotional injuries.
Many people will benefit from having a car accident lawyer by their side during the negotiation process since they understand all the tricks insurance companies use to pay out as little as possible.
Bringing a Lawsuit
In some no-fault states, like Florida, injured motorists are limited when they can bring a lawsuit. Typically, they will need a permanent injury before they can sue to receive pain and suffering and other damages in court. This requirement keeps many meritorious claims from ever reaching a jury and denies injured motorists the compensation that they need.
New Hampshire residents are not limited in this manner. Instead, you can sue for full compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages
- Pain and suffering
Whether to bring a lawsuit will depend on a variety of factors, such as when the accident occurred and whether settlement negotiations have broken down. A car accident attorney can advise you about your legal rights.
New Hampshire law recognizes that more than one person can be responsible for an accident. In fact, injured motorists frequently contribute to collisions by being negligent themselves.
However, the law will allow you to recover damages only if you were not more responsible for the crash than the other driver. In other words, you can be up to 50% responsible—but not more. If you are, then you will not receive anything in a lawsuit or in a settlement.
If you are 50% responsible or less, then the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your proportion of fault. For example, your injuries might be worth $100,000. If you were 50% responsible, then you would only receive $50,000. If you were 30% responsible, you would only receive $70,000.
You should expect the question of your own negligence to come up in settlement negotiations or in conversation with your own insurance company.
Speak with a New Hampshire Car Accident Lawyer
After a collision, you might feel overwhelmed with paperwork and unsure of whether you can negotiate adequate compensation on your own. At Gottesman & Hollis, our car accident lawyers in Nashua have represented injured motorists for over 45 years. Our team knows how to make a persuasive case to an insurance company, and we are prepared to take your case to court if necessary.