What Happens in a Personal Injury Case?
What happens in a typical personal injury case in New Hampshire?
Like all other states, New Hampshire has its own laws for personal injury cases. These laws govern how and when your claim for injuries might be heard.
The Statute of Limitations
Each state has a time period within which a lawsuit for personal injuries must be filed. The New Hampshire deadline expires three (3) years from the date of the accident. Still, there are times when people don’t learn about their injuries until sometime after their accident. In these cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when the person knew or should have known that they were injured. If a person injured in an accident fails to resolve their claim or file a lawsuit within the period prescribed by the applicable statute of limitations, they’ll be forever barred from proceeding further. Different deadlines might apply to different entities, though, so we strongly recommended that you consult with an injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
The Insurance Claim
Many accidents never see a courthouse. Settlements in these cases are often negotiated directly between the injured party’s attorney and the insurer of the liable party. If an offer or settlement is accepted, the injured party’s rights against the party responsible for the accident are terminated upon signing a release of claims and receiving the agreed amount of compensation.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
No one who was injured in an accident is required to negotiate with an insurer before filing a lawsuit. The injured party can retain a personal injury lawyer and file their lawsuit right away. This is far and away the best course of action for purposes of protecting the statute of limitations. In nearly all personal injury lawsuits, negligence is alleged in that the party allegedly responsible for the injuries did or failed to do a certain act. Damages sought in the lawsuit usually include but aren’t limited to:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
The Appearance and Answer
After the person and/or entity alleged to be responsible for the accident (the defendant) is summoned and served with a lawsuit, they must respond and appear in court within 30 days. Once they’re filed and served on the plaintiff, the discovery phase of the case begins.
During discovery, both sides disclose all information they have regarding the case to each other. These include but aren’t limited to reports, medical information, and names and addresses of witnesses. Written questions are served on each side to be answered under oath, and witnesses are deposed. During depositions, a court reporter writes down all of the questions and answers that are expressed verbally. Witnesses usually include both parties, treating physicians, and people who saw the accident.