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Victims of car accidents may be unaware of serious injury

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, when a driver is stopped at a traffic signal and hit from the rear by a vehicle whose driver was unable to stop in time, the operator of the stationary vehicle is not negligent and not liable for injuries arising from the accident. The vehicle that approaches a stopped vehicle or a line of stopped traffic must have sufficient control of his or her car to stop in time to avoid a collision. Regarding rear-end collision car accidents, it is usually relatively easy to determine which operator is at fault.

With respect to passengers in any stationary vehicles hit from the rear, they are entitled to recover from the offending operator for their injuries. It may surprise some persons to know that even the passengers in the wrongly operated vehicle are innocent victims and are entitled to collect damages from their driver. These principles of negligence law may come into play in a recent accident in Pelham.

Two vehicles were stopped at a red light, appropriately waiting for the green light. While so stopped, a van driven by a New Hampshire driver came up from behind and struck the rear of the second car that was stopped for the light. The impact pushed that car into the rear of the car ahead of it. Each of the two stopped cars had passengers, and the operators and passengers in both vehicles were transported to a hospital in Massachusetts.

In New Hampshire, the operators of the stationary vehicles and all passengers are entitled to collect personal injury damages against the offending operator for serious injuries that they may suffer. It is important that quick assessments of the medical condition of victims of car accidents not be made by the victim or other laypersons. The true extent of an injury may not be known for several days, or longer. There could be, for example, serious neck, back or nerve injury that is not easily detectable immediately after the accident. A victim is best advised to obtain treatment as soon as symptoms appear and to document all medical visits and treatments.  

Source:, "Man flown to Boston hospital with serious injuries after three-car crash in Pelham", Paul Feely, Feb. 19, 2017

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