Car accidents are an unfortunate, regular occurrence worldwide. Drivers must do their utmost to avoid such incidents daily. Even still, many get caught up in minor or even fatal accidents due to their own negligence or another driver’s recklessness.
In 2021, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported over 100 fatalities caused by car accidents in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, car accident victims lose their lives in such tragic incidents. Even when a non-fatal accident occurs, there may be serious injuries, property damage, and financial losses to face as a result.
If you ever find yourself involved in a New Hampshire car accident, it is important to learn how car accident laws can affect you. This guide will help you understand New Hampshire car accident laws and your legal obligations as a law-abiding resident.
New Hampshire Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
The car insurance laws in New Hampshire differ slightly from those in many other states. Drivers don’t need to carry car insurance. You must, however, prove that you have sufficient funds to cover an at-fault car accident. This means that if you are found wholly or partially responsible for causing damage in an accident, you can pay compensation from your own pocket.
You must meet minimum coverage requirements if you decide to purchase auto insurance. Your insurance provider should offer sufficient liability coverage for the following:
- Medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income for the car accident victim
- Property repair or replacement costs for the victim
- Uninsured or underinsured coverage that protects you if you are in an accident with a driver who has little or no insurance
- Collision coverage that pays for your vehicle repairs
- Comprehensive coverage that covers non-accident-related damage to your car
- Other optional add-ons like towing and rental reimbursement, roadside assistance, and gap insurance
The Insurance Information Institute states that most drivers in New Hampshire had auto insurance as of 2019.
New Hampshire state law requires you to have liability insurance that has the coverage amounts below:
- The coverage for bodily injury is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- The coverage for property damage is $25,000 per accident
- It is recommended to have at least $1,000 of medical payment coverage for yourself
Keep in mind that these are the minimum insurance coverage requirements. To be extra
cautious and provide additional protection, you can purchase a policy with higher coverage limits. This can be a wise choice, especially if you want to ensure that you are adequately covered in case of a more severe collision.
New Hampshire’s At-Fault System
New Hampshire is an at-fault state. This means that the person responsible for causing an accident will be responsible for the cost of damages.
After an auto accident, the lawyers and insurance company will investigate and determine who is at fault for the accident. If the two sides cannot agree on the result, they may negotiate the degree of fault for each party involved.
When determining liability, New Hampshire follows a comparative negligence system. Comparative negligence means both parties involved in an accident can share a percentage of fault.
This rule will affect the amount of compensation you may receive or have to pay. Compensation may not be available to parties who are more than 51 percent to blame for the car accident.
Reporting a New Hampshire Car Accident
New Hampshire law requires that you report any car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage of over $1,000. Typically, the police officers who respond to your vehicle accident will perform an investigation and file the required paperwork. On the other hand, when the police do not investigate, it is your responsibility to file the report yourself.
When you are required to file a report with the local police department or the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you must make the report within 15 days of its occurrence.
However, in minor accidents, you may be able to resolve the matter without filing a report. Either way, there should be an exchange of information between both parties.
What to Do After a New Hampshire Car Accident
After a collision, it is crucial to call emergency services if anyone has been injured. You should immediately stop your car, exchange information with the other driver, and call the police.
Here is the information that should be exchanged between drivers:
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of the drivers involved
- Insurance provider names and policy numbers for both drivers.
- Driver’s license number
- The make, model, year, and color of the vehicles involved
- License plate and vehicle identification numbers (VIN)
Alternatively, you can give the information to the responding officer or an officer at the nearest police station.
Your Legal Responsibilities Regarding Car Accidents
New Hampshire laws protect its citizens and residents. It is vital to take these statutes seriously. In the case of accidents, willful ignorance of the law can lead to disastrous traffic accidents.
Obeying traffic laws not only protects individual drivers but also promotes safety in the community. Below are some laws that drivers should abide by to reduce the risk of an accident.
Don’t drive under the influence
In New Hampshire, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for blood alcohol (BAC) is 0.08 percent. The BAC limit for drivers under 21 years is 0.02 percent, and 0.04 percent for commercial drivers.
New Hampshire’s DUI/DWI laws penalize those who are caught driving under the influence. First-time offenders could face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a 2-year license suspension.
Repeat offenders may have part of their jail time suspended and enter a probationary period. Aggravated DWI with serious injury leads to a Class B felony, resulting in fines of up to $2,000 and a revoked license for up to 2 years.
Obey New Hampshire traffic laws
Following traffic laws can ensure everyone on the road stays safe. Responsible drivers follow the rules of the road, like respecting speed limits, stop signs, yield signs, and traffic light signals.
Here are a few statutory speed limits in New Hampshire:
- 10 mph slower than the stated speed limit in school zones
- 30 mph in a business or urban residential district
- 35 mph in rural residential areas
- 55 mph on most roads, except interstates
- 65 mph on most interstates
Breaking these speed limits can result in fines, starting at $62 for the first offense. Also, your driving record gets 3 to 4 demerit points for speed limit violations.
Avoid distractions while driving
Texting or calling while driving is a significant cause of accidents. According to New Hampshire’s hands-free law, all drivers are prohibited from using their mobile phones or navigational devices on the road.
Drivers who ignore the hands-free law can be charged with reckless or negligent driving. The fines for this offense start at $100 and can be as high as $500.
Be aware of your surroundings when driving
Driving defensively involves staying vigilant and aware of potential hazards on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings, the actions of other drivers, adverse weather conditions, and road obstacles.
Maintain a safe following distance, anticipate the actions of other road users, and avoid aggressive behaviors like tailgating and road rage. Defensive driving reduces the likelihood of collisions by being prepared for unexpected situations.
Understand New Hampshire seat belt laws and you
New Hampshire is one of the states in the US with the lowest seat belt use, perhaps because there are no specific laws enforcing seat belt use for adults in the state. But NH law does require any child under eighteen traveling as a passenger to wear a seatbelt.
Even though seatbelt use is not compulsory under New Hampshire law, it is best to ensure that all passengers (or drivers) in your vehicle wear theirs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration refers to seatbelts as “the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers.”
Compensation After a New Hampshire Car Accident
New Hampshire car accident statute of limitations can vary. As an adult, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for both personal injury and damaged property cases. However, a minor has 2 years from the date he or she turns 18 years old to file a car accident lawsuit.
Getting the help of a personal injury lawyer is very beneficial in car accident cases. A New Hampshire car accident lawyer can help you file your claim on time and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. If you miss the deadline, the court may not accept your case, and you might not be able to seek compensation.
Our NH Car Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
Understanding New Hampshire car accident laws can help you protect yourself after an accident. This also means you will know your legal rights, obligations, and insurance requirements.
However, understanding these basic laws may not be enough to receive compensation in a car accident case. That’s where we, Kiley Law Group, come in. We help you reduce the overwhelm of the legal process after an accident.
Our law firm’s qualified attorneys are ready to help you navigate your personal injury case or insurance claims. Our goal is to ensure you get the compensation you deserve and a stress-free recovery – both physically and financially. Get started on this path by contacting us today.