Personal Injury & Workers Comp

Personal Injury Lawyers

NH Personal Injury Law Attorneys

Attorneys at Welts, White & Fontaine, P.C. have extensive experience in assisting injured parties in personal injury cases, and are available to help you assess your legal, medical and financial options to reach the best result in your injury case. Click here to contact us right now. Our consultations are free and our fee only gets paid if we settle your case or prevail at trial. There’s no upfront cost to you.

As Nashua’s largest law firm, we have the experience and resources to handle all types of personal injury lawsuits and claims. We represent individuals all across New Hampshire, including Nashua, Hudson, Hollis, Amherst, Merrimack, Bedford, Windham, Pelham, Milford, and Brookline, among others. 

 

Our Personal Injury Lawyers are able to assist clients in all Personal Injury claims, including the following:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What kinds of personal injury cases does Welts, White and Fontaine handle?

Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury case, followed by slip and fall accidents (which include trips-and-falls and other injuries caused by negligent maintenance of a premises). We also represent pedestrians who are injured by cars, trucks, or other vehicles.

Dog bite injuries are also common. Under state law (RSA 466:19), dog owners are “strictly liable” for injuries caused by their animals. That means that, unlike the typical personal injury case, the victim does not need to demonstrate any negligence.

Injuries caused by skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, or ski lifts are also prevalent in New Hampshire. These cases can be difficult due to state law immunizing ski areas (in some situations), as well as the growing use of liability waivers. However, we have had success surmounting these legal challenges. Similarly, we represent victims of accidents occurring at trampoline parks and other recreational facilities.

If you feel like you were injured as a result of someone’s negligence, call us or contact us through our website for a free consultation.

What is a personal injury law case?

The term “personal injury law” covers a broad range of claims. The most common personal injury cases are car accident lawsuits. These include collisions such as rear-end and “t-bone” accidents.

More generally, the term “personal injury” refers to a category of law known as “torts.” A “tort” is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained . . . .”

In practice, the colloquial use of “personal injury” refers to injuries caused by another person’s negligence.

How is negligence defined in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, negligence has been defined as the lack of reasonable care. When someone in New Hampshire acts, they have the responsibility to “exercise the care of a reasonable person to protect [others] against an unreasonable risk of harm.” See Coan v. N.H. Dep’t of Env’t Servs., 161 N.H. 1 (2010). That means that someone driving on the highway has a duty to drive in a reasonable manner: not speeding, not texting, and keeping their eyes on the road.

Similarly, a property owner has a duty to correct dangerous issues on their land (such as black ice or hidden potholes), or at least warn patrons of the problems.  Reasonable care does not require perfection: just because someone causes an injury to another person does not mean they were negligent. By the same token, however, a person could have completely pure intentions and “accidentally” injure someone, and still be guilty of negligence. Negligence is an objective standard, meaning that “reasonableness” under the circumstances is adjudged by considering an imaginary “average reasonable person,” rather than the defendant (tortfeasor) himself.

I was injured, but I really don’t want to be part of a lawsuit. Do I have to go to court?

We recognize that litigation is stressful. Our firm does our best to resolve claims with insurance companies before a lawsuit needs to be filed. A large majority of our personal injury cases settle prior to any litigation. Even if a lawsuit does need to be filed, we are usually successful in settling the case before trial.

We are able to settle most of our cases because insurance companies know we are not afraid to try cases when necessary. Our firm is one of the largest in New Hampshire (and the biggest in Nashua) and we command respect for our experience and success.

What are the most common personal injury law cases in New Hampshire?

Car accident lawsuits are the most common personal injury cases in Nashua, just like everywhere else in the country. These car crash claims include rear-end accidents and t-bone motor vehicle collisions.

How much is my New Hampshire personal injury accident case worth?

The biggest factor in determining case value is the extent of your injuries and the amount of corresponding medical bills. Keep in mind that the relevant medical bill amount is the “sticker price” (i.e., the original billed amount, not your out of pocket cost after insurance adjustments).

Pain and suffering damages are a substantial component of a personal injury case. Generally speaking, however, they are directly correlated directly to the amount of medical bills. So, the greater the amount of medical bills, the more pain and suffering damages typically available. Other types of damages are loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, and loss of consortium.

Case value will be greater where the injury is permanent in some way (for example, having a limp for the rest of your life). Additionally, the case will likely be worth more if the duration of treatment is long.

In sum, each case is different. The value of a case is very fact specific. It depends on the clearness of negligence/liability, the severity of the injury, the victim’s age and occupation, and many other factors.  Our attorneys can help you evaluate your case value and likelihood of success.

What is a fair settlement for pain and suffering or emotional distress?

Pain and suffering is a very difficult concept to quantify. There is no magic formula to determine what a fair payment is for pain and suffering. However, most lawyers agree that insurance companies correlate pain and suffering to the amount of medical bills in a case. A rule of thumb is that pain and suffering damages will be between 0.5 and 1.5 times the amount of medical bills. For example, if you have $10,000 in medical bills, your pain and suffering settlement amount may be between $5,000 and $15,000 (insurance companies do not specify the “break down” of their settlement offers between medical bills, pain/suffering, and other categories of damages; the above is merely an example). Unfortunately, most settlements tend to be on the lower end of that range. Insurance companies will only pay a fair settlement if they know your attorney has the resources and experience to take the case all the way to trial. Welts, White & Fontaine has decades of experience in the courtroom and success before judges and juries throughout New Hampshire.  

How much does a personal injury lawyer cost? What is a contingency fee?

We typically handle personal injury cases on a “contingency fee” basis. A contingency fee means that the lawyer recovers as their fee a percentage of the settlement or verdict in your case. There is no upfront cost to you. The most common contingency fee is 1/3. So, if your case settles for $75,000, our fee would be $25,000.  

Under a contingency fee arrangement, you owe no attorney’s fees unless we achieve a settlement or verdict. To put it another way, you don’t pay unless we win (note: clients are typically responsible for out of pocket expenses, such as medical records requests, regardless of case outcome. However, we do advance those costs).

Contingency fee arrangements are beneficial because we have a vested interest in the outcome of your case. The better result you get, the better off we are. Of course, all clients have the option of hiring us at our hourly rates.

Why should I hire a personal injury attorney?

If you were injured in a car accident, you may have been contacted by an insurance company and offered a settlement. It may even sound like a lot of money.

So why should you hire an attorney and give them a share of your settlement? It’s a fair question. But here’s the bottom line: in most situations, an insurance company is going to offer more money when you are represented by a lawyer. Why? Because the insurance companies know there is a real threat of a lawsuit if they don’t settle. A lawsuit means having to pay an expensive defense lawyer and the possibility of a big verdict.

Hiring a lawyer means you can rest assured you aren’t leaving money on the table and aren’t being tricked into something by a big insurance company. Additionally, your lawyer may be able to assist you with things like negotiating outstanding medical bills or insurance liens.

At the very least, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. We offer free consultations, so there’s no risk to you.  

When should you contact an attorney after a car accident?

We recommend talking to an attorney as soon as possible when you are in an accident and think you may be injured. An attorney can help guide you through dealing with the complicated interplay of health insurance, auto insurance, medical payments coverage, police reports, medical treatment, and many other details that come up early in the post-accident process. Since Welts, White & Fontaine offers free consultations, there’s no downside to at least talking to an attorney.

Even if it has been quite a bit of time since your accident, an attorney may still be able to help. The statute of limitations in three years in New Hampshire (for most cases), and sometimes we are contacted at the figurative “last minute” to help clients recover compensation. 

I have health insurance and limited out of pocket costs: is my case still worth something?

Yes. Whether or not you have health insurance should make no difference to your case’s settlement “value.” That’s because New Hampshire follows a legal doctrine known as the “collateral source rule.” The collateral source rule prohibits a defense lawyer from telling the jury that the plaintiff had medical insurance. An overwhelming majority of New Hampshire judges considering the issue have concluded that the collateral source rule applies to health insurance in car accident lawsuits.

If a jury could only consider the amount of out-of-pocket bills, a victim could be penalized simply because they have health insurance. Thus, courts have decided that a defendant should not be “let off the hook” for their negligent behavior.

What is a health insurance lien? Do I have to pay back my health insurance?

In most situations, personal injury victims use their health insurance to cover their medical bills from accidents. And that is wise.

The health insurance company, however, likely has a right to be “paid back” if an injured person thereafter collects a personal injury settlement. This “right” is referred to as a subrogation lien. It arises from the fine print of your health insurance policy, or (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid) from federal or state law.

The theory is basically this: if you collect an injury settlement based on a car accident, you are being compensated based on your medical treatment and bills. If your health insurance has already paid those medical bills on your behalf, the law considers it unfair for you to keep the entire settlement without paying your health insurance back.

There is good news, however. First, you will not owe your health insurance anything if you don’t recover any money. Second, the amount you have to pay back to your insurer is likely much less than the amount of your settlement, because (a) health insurers receive steep discounts on medical bills, and therefore only pay a fraction of the bill, and (b) you do not have to pay back any portion of your settlement that is compensation for things like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.

Additionally, your attorneys may be able to negotiate a discount for the lien amount you have to pay back to your health insurance company. Insurance companies know that they would not get paid back anything without a settlement, so they are usually willing to take a pay cut in order to recoup something.

Who is the best car accident lawyer in the Nashua, New Hampshire area?

New Hampshire is lucky to have many good lawyers. At Welts, White & Fontaine, PC, we consider ourselves among the best. We’re the largest law firm in Nashua. We were the only Nashua law firm featured in Business NH Magazine’s “Top Law Firms in New Hampshire.” We have appeared in the New England Edition of Super Lawyers Magazine and named a “Best Law Firm” by Best Lawyers, a publication of US News & World Report. Our proudest accomplishment, though, is the support and gratitude we receive from our clients after a job well done. Check out our reviews on Google if you want to see for yourself.

My loved one was killed in an accident. What can I do?

When a family member or other loved one passes away, it is never easy. If someone else is at fault, the tragedy may be even harder to take.

A wrongful death claim is brought by the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate. In New Hampshire, wrongful death claims are specifically permitted by statute.

At Welts, White & Fontaine, PC, we are uniquely suited for pursuing wrongful death claims because our law firm has attorneys specializing in both probate law and in personal injury law. We can help you navigate these very difficult cases.

In a wrongful death case, the time period immediately following the accident is critical. In a typical personal injury claim, one of the most important witnesses is the injured person herself. Obviously, that’s not possible where the victim is killed. A well-coordinated investigation could be critical to preserve evidence and build a solid case.

The driver who injured me doesn’t have insurance. What should I do?

If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, one of the first things to determine is whether the responsible driver has auto insurance coverage (also called “liability coverage”). If the police were called to the scene of the accident, they may have collected the insurance information of both drivers and you may be able to make a determination that way. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend always calling the police if you are involved in an accident, even if you think your injuries aren’t that serious. 

If it appears the other driver does not have insurance, hopefully you have your own auto insurance. Your auto insurance policy contains a type of coverage called Uninsured (or “Underinsured”) Motorists Coverage. As the name implies, UIM coverage applies when the defendant driver does not have insurance, does not have enough insurance, or when the incident was a hit-and-run type accident. 

It is very important to make sure you have adequate UIM coverage. We recommend that the average person carry at least $250,000 in coverage. In many situations, increasing your coverage to $250,000 or more involves only a minimal premium increase. 

If you do have UIM coverage, then your attorneys will assist you with making a claim against your own insurance, much the same way you would against the other driver’s insurance. If the insurance company will not agree to settle for a fair amount, you may have to file a lawsuit (or arbitration claim) against your insurance company. 

If you do not have UIM coverage and the other driver also has no insurance, things become more difficult. You can still make a claim against the other driver; however, recovering any funds could be difficult depending on the driver’s financial situation. As the saying goes, “you can’t squeeze blood from a stone.” In this situation, it is extremely important to determine whether the responsible driver has assets (such a vacation home) which could be attached as leverage to settle a claim. An attorney can help you investigate whether an uninsured driver has assets to pursue. 

I slipped and fell at the store, restaurant, or supermarket. Can I sue them?

The first question: was the store negligent in some way? As noted above, a party must have been negligent in order to be liable for an injury. Negligence can manifest in many different ways.

All owners of property in New Hampshire have a duty to “use ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition, to warn entrants of dangerous conditions and to take reasonable precautions to protect them against foreseeable dangers” on the premises. Rallis v. Demoulas Super Markets, 159 N.H. 95 (2009).

So, when a premises owner (whether a commercial business or a private landowner) fails to keep their property reasonably safe, they may be liable for negligence.

What is “medical payments” insurance?

Medical Payments coverage, also known as “medpay” is a type of no-fault insurance coverage found in all car insurance policies in New Hampshire. It can also be found in certain other types of insurance policies, such as homeowner’s policies and business liability policies.

State law requires all auto insurance policies in New Hampshire to provide at least $1,000 in medpay coverage. See RSA 264:16. Drivers can also purchase additional insurance up to $10,000 (and sometimes even higher).

In auto insurance policies, medpay coverage is “first party” insurance, meaning it is a benefit available to the holder of the policy rather than third parties. For example, if you are rear-ended by a drunk driver, you have a claim against the other driver and their insurance. However, you (and anyone else in your car) also have a claim to the medical payments coverage of your own policy.

Medpay coverage only pays for out-of-pocket medical expenses, not pain and suffering or any other type of damages. For instance, if you are injured and have to go to the emergency room, you may have a $100 copay that is not covered by your health insurance. That $100 copay can be reimbursed from your medpay coverage.

Importantly, medpay is “no fault” insurance. That means that you are entitled to it without having to prove someone else was negligent or otherwise caused your injuries.

Medical payments coverage can be a very helpful benefit if you are injured in a car accident and have out of pocket medical bills that need to be paid while waiting for a personal injury settlement. However, because the medpay policy limits are quite low (usually $1,000) it’s a good idea to work with your attorney to coordinate how to most effectively utilize those funds. If you have great health insurance and little or no out-of-pocket bills, your attorney may even be able to use the medpay funds to lower your health insurance lien.

What kinds of injuries are most common in car accidents?

The most common injuries in motor vehicle collisions are injuries to the neck and back, such as whiplash. We also see broken bones, concussions, and many other types of injuries.

While you may consider whiplash (or similar injuries) to be “not that bad,” these injuries can linger and should be treated by a medical professional to ensure the quickest recovery possible. Whiplash victims often need physical therapy and medication to control their symptoms and rehabilitate their injuries.

Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident?

It depends. It is worth at least checking with a lawyer to see what their opinion is. If you have a car accident and need some medical treatment (even if relatively minor) it likely makes sense to hire an attorney. The settlement may not be very much, but a lawyer can help maximize your recovery. Car accidents are stressful and inconvenient, even under the best of circumstances. You deserve compensation if you are injured because of someone else’s negligence. That’s what insurance is for.

How long does a car accident settlement take?

Settlements in personal injury cases can take some time. The reason why is simple: settlements are based on medical treatment and medical bills. You can’t (or shouldn’t) settle your case until you have finished your medical treatment.

Once you settle your case, there’s no going back. So if you want to maximize your settlement, you unfortunately have to be patient.

For a “routine” whiplash-type accident injury, a victim might have a few doctor visits and one or two months of physical therapy. Once medical treatment has ended, we collect your medical bills and records and assemble a demand letter to send to the insurance company (this can take a month or two). Once the demand letter is sent, in generally takes a few weeks for the insurance company to review and respond with a settlement offer.

Of course, this assumes that the insurance company is reasonable in their settlement offer. Sometimes cases can’t be settled by agreement, and a lawsuit is necessary. Litigation can be a lengthy process.

How is a personal injury settlement paid out?

Once a settlement is reached, the insurance company will send a check for the “gross” proceeds (that is, before attorney’s fees and other charges are deducted) to your attorney. Our firm then will prepare a breakdown of the settlement funds for the client to review and approve. For example, the breakdown will specific that x dollars will be for the attorney’s fee, y dollars for repaying the health insurance company, and z dollars to the client for their net settlement proceeds. Once those amounts are calculated, we will issue a check to our clients for their settlement proceeds.

 

 

This page is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion,.