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Liability in car accidents is determined by who was negligent

Negligence in New Hampshire and other jurisdictions usually consists of actions that represent a breach of a legal duty owed to others under the circumstances. The duty exists and evolves through the statutory and case law in each state. The negligence, and the breach of the duty owed, is created by engaging in actions that fall below a recognized minimum required standard of care under the circumstances. With respect to car accidents, each new incident must be evaluated by its own facts to determine whether there is a duty owed, and if so, whether a participant's activities were in fact negligent.

In car accidents, whether a legal duty is owed is not usually an issue. Operators of vehicles on the roads and highways owe a duty of due care to each other. The real analysis occurs when determining the existence of negligence and to what extent, if any, that each driver was at fault in causing the accident.

Many accidents are caused solely by one driver, but in some complex mishaps, there may be more than one party sharing in the liability and in the duty to compensate injured and deceased victims. For example, a crash in Chichester recently involved a driver losing control and crossing over the median strip of the highway into oncoming traffic. That car crashed into an oncoming pickup truck towing heavy equipment.

The driver and the passenger were taken to hospitals where they were expected to survive. The case is easy to analyze with respect to liability in car accidents, because it is likely that the driver who lost control will be declared to be the sole negligent cause of the accident under the negligence jurisprudence of New Hampshire. The pickup was driving properly and going in the correct direction when the out-of-control car struck it. The car driver has no right to collect third-party damages for himself because he was the sole cause of the mishap. His passenger, however, most likely has a claim for compensation of injuries against his driver.

Source:, "Chichester crash sends two to hospital", June 1, 2017

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