The average personal injury case can be fairly cut and dry, at least as far as who is responsible goes. One party is clearly entirely at fault or has admitted full responsibility, entirely, and the two parties can move toward settlement for all of the damages suffered by the injured party. In New Hampshire law, however, there is another possible outcome—one in which both parties share some degree of the fault.
In these cases, it is of particular importance to know the potential outcomes and what scenarios you may face if you're found to have shared fault. This post is intended to introduce New Hampshire's shared fault rules and what you need to know about them.
What are shared fault rules?
In New Hampshire, it is possible for a jury to determine that a person bringing a suit against a person or entity that caused their injury is partially responsible for said injury. In that case, the jury may rule there is shared fault, also known as comparative fault.
This can have a large impact on the amount of compensation an injured party can expect to receive, as the potential liability may be reduced or even completely eliminated, depending on the jury's ruling. That decision will come after a determination of how much fault the injured party shares in causing their own ailment.
How is a potential payout calculated?
First, the total damages an injured party is eligible for will be determined per the usual process judges and juries apply in these cases. Depending on the degree of shared fault, the maximum potential damages can be cut, sometimes significantly.
For example, if you were found to be 50% responsible for an automobile accident you were involved in, and the damages were set at $100,000, you would actually only receive $50,000 in damages. Even if you're settling a case, you may hear about this during the process so it's good to know that the possibility exists and could come into play.
Can I still collect if I'm found to have a larger share of fault?
No, not under New Hampshire law. You are eligible to recover damages if you are found to have up to a 50% share of fault. If the determination is made that you are more responsible for the incident than the other side, however, you will not be eligible to collect from the other party or parties.
If you need help understanding shared fault rules, or you believe you are involved in a case where they may apply, do not hesitate to contact a New Hampshire personal injury attorney at Upton & Hatfield today.