If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit in New Hampshire, it is important to learn more about how comparative negligence or comparative fault could affect your case. In short, when a defendant believes that the plaintiff is also partially responsible for the accident or injuries, the defendant can raise the defense of comparative fault.
While some states bar a plaintiff’s recovery if that plaintiff is at fault in any way, New Hampshire still allows plaintiffs to recover as long as they are not more at fault than the defendant.
We want to tell you more about how comparative negligence works in New Hampshire. If you have questions or need assistance with your claim, an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer can help.
Understanding New Hampshire’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
New Hampshire uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence rule, or a 51% rule (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 507:7-d). What does this mean? According to the language of the statute, “contributory fault shall not bar recovery in an action by any plaintiff . . . if such fault was not greater than the fault of the defendant, or the defendants in the aggregate.”
In other words, as the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) helps to clarify, as long as a plaintiff is not 51 percent or more at fault, the plaintiff can still recover damages.
However, the plaintiff is not permitted to obtain a full damages award if the court says the plaintiff is partially to blame but is not more at fault than the defendant. Instead, the plaintiff’s damage award gets diminished by the plaintiff’s proportion of fault. Once a plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault, New Hampshire law bars that plaintiff from recovery.
Examples of Comparative Negligence Cases
If you are concerned that you may be partially at fault for an accident in which you plan to file a claim, it is important to understand how comparative fault or contributory negligence works in practice. If you search for “comparative negligence example” you may come across situations like the following:
- A plaintiff is involved in a slip and fall accident in New Hampshire after slipping and falling on a rough patch of flooring in a restaurant. The plaintiff files a premises liability lawsuit, and the defendant argues that the plaintiff is partially at fault because the plaintiff was distracted by her smartphone at the time of the accident. The court determines that the plaintiff is 10 percent at fault. The court awards a total of $50,000, which is then diminished by the plaintiff’s fault, or by 10 percent. Accordingly, the plaintiff recovers $45,000.
- A plaintiff is injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver who ran a red light. The plaintiff files a car accident lawsuit. The defendant raises the issue of comparative fault, alleging that the plaintiff was speeding at the time of the accident. The court decides that the plaintiff is 50 percent at fault. The plaintiff can still recover damages, but her award of $100,000 is reduced by her percentage of fault, or 50 percent, and she recovers a total of $50,000.
- A plaintiff is injured in a truck accident after a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel. However, the truck driver alleges that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time of the collision. The court determines that the plaintiff is 51 percent at fault. Accordingly, the plaintiff is barred from any recovery.
Seek Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer
An experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney at Sabbeth Law can begin working with you on your case. If a defendant alleges that you are partially to blame, we can gather evidence to help show that you deserve full compensation for your losses. Contact Sabbeth Law today for more information.