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Establishing Negligence per Se in a New Hampshire Car Accident Lawsuit

April 7, 2020

In New Hampshire, motorists involved in a car accident may be held liable for the damages caused by their negligence. The state’s “at-fault” laws allow injury victims to recover from third-parties, such as insurance companies, as long as they can prove that the policyholder is liable for their losses. However, insurance companies typically look out for their own best financial interest and will go to great lengths to reduce or dispute an injury victim’s claim. Therefore, New Hampshire car accident victims must understand and apply the best theories to their case.

Under New Hampshire law, injury victims who wish to recover for their damages must prove that the defendant was negligent. To prove negligence, the plaintiffs must establish that the defendant owed them a duty to keep them safe, and they breached that duty. Generally, plaintiffs must be able to prove the standard of care that a defendant owed them and present evidence that a reasonable person would have been more prudent in the same situation. In some instances, plaintiffs may accomplish this by establishing that the defendant was “negligent per se.

Negligence per se applies when a person causes an injury while they were violating a law that was designed to protect the public. For example, the theory applies in situations where a person causes an injury while they were driving under the influence, speeding, driving recklessly, or running a red light. Negligence per se allows the inference that the defendant was negligent, thus allowing the plaintiff an easier path to recovery. In these cases, the fact finder does not have to consider whether the defendant’s behavior was unreasonable. Instead, the defendant’s actions are deemed unreasonable because they violated a rule, regulation, or statute. In these cases, there is a presumptive standard of care, so juries will only need to determine whether the defendant violated the applicable law and then whether the defendant’s violation caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Take, for example, the recent case where a New Hampshire construction worker died after being hit by a drunk driver. A local news report indicated that police responded to a car accident between an SUV and a pedestrian. When police arrived at the scene, they discovered that the driver was under the influence and charged him with DUI. In cases like these, the family of the victim may be able to pursue a claim for damages based on negligence per se. The family may claim that negligence per se applies because the motorist caused an injury while violating a statute designed to protect against the exact outcome that occurred.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident with a Drunk Driver?

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died because of a New Hampshire drunk driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your damages. The attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates have successfully represented hundreds of clients in New Hampshire car accident cases, including those involving drunk drivers. We understand that although many car accidents have similar fact patterns, each case requires a detailed and personalized approach. Our attorneys evaluate each case individually and devise a unique strategy for each, maximizing your chances of recovery. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm at 800-804-2004.