Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Walking in the Street: Do I need to be in a crosswalk to be legally protected?

          Over the years, our firm has handled quite a few cases where a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle. Yet, each time, it seems the client is not sure about what the laws are as it relates to pedestrians in the roadway.

            The first thing to examine is New Hampshire’s Pedestrian Right of Way statute, titled RSA 265:35. You can access a copy of the rule here. As paragraph I of the statute states, cars are required to yield to a pedestrian who is properly in the crosswalk. Thus, in a typical situation where a car hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, liability is generally clear. However, there are a few other factors under the statute that merit consideration. First, the pedestrian must not have suddenly darted in front of the vehicle causing it to hit them. This is a codification of the old adage “look both ways before you cross the street”. As long as you follow your parents’ old advice, you should be protected under the statute.

            What is not clear to most clients is that a pedestrian, under the statute, must yield to cars in the road in the absence of a crosswalk. A lot of folks believe the reverse is true, in that a pedestrian always has the right of way. This is simply not true. The rule governing crossing the road without the use of a cross walk is RSA 265:36, and you can access it here. As you can see, the pedestrian is required to yield to cars already in the roadway. The justification is easy to see. It’s a substantial risk to put the onus on drivers of cars to yield to all pedestrians anywhere, while in the same breath it’s easier for a pedestrian to see a car and yield to it.

            As always, if you are approaching a busy intersection as a pedestrian, please use caution. No one wants to be hit by a car in what can amount to a life threatening experience. Further, if you are operating a car around a heavily populated area, you must be aware of any and all crosswalks around you, and caution in approaching them must be exercised.

            If you have been injured, our attorneys have handled personal injury cases for over thirty years. We are one of the most trusted firms around, and will help you get back what you deserve. Contact us today. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What is Negligence and who is a Reasonable Person?

            A large number of personal injury claims are based, at least in part, on a theory of negligence. Negligent conduct is conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

            To use an old logical saw, that ultimately begs the question of who a reasonably prudent person is. To some, the definition of that person comes as a surprise. The reasonably prudent person can sometimes be generalized as “Debbie Do-Gooder”. The reasonably prudent person stops completely at lights and stop signs. They signal a full 100 feet before making a turn. They always look both ways before turning, and never speed. This can be an intimidating prospect for some, as most people don’t operate that conservatively in their every day lives.

            This definition doesn’t stop with people driving cars either. A reasonable business owner salts the entrance to his business after every freeze. They shovel all snow from their pathways, and warn patrons of any dangers that could potentially affect them. They post warning signs, double and triple check food they make, and make sure they don’t hire anyone that could harm another.

            It’s a difficult idea to envision, and one our clients are always concerned with. If you have questions about liability at your business, feel free to contact our office today. If you’ve been injured, and need help, we provide free consultations in all injury cases. Contact us today. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Divorce in New Hampshire: Part 1 - Important Documents

            As a local Judge likes to say during First Appearances in a divorce matter, “You are all likely going through the worst time period of your lives. We’re here to try to figure out how you move on, and what you need to do to make that process easier.” It’s true, divorce means a marriage is ending, and that is a difficult process to be involved in. Yet, as statistics show, Divorce has become much more commonplace, and living in a divorced home has seemingly become more of the norm.

            However, the process is still draining, and most people don’t know what to expect from the divorce process. In a divorce, one of the married persons files a Petition for Divorce, and in a typical case, the other party files a Cross-Petition and Answer. The parties seek decisions on parenting, division of assets, division of debts, child support, alimony, and other issues. Yet, when you first become involved it can be a very intimidating prospect.

            Thus, it is a good idea to identify a few important documents that you will need to understand in order to maintain sanity through the divorce process. The first, and most important, is the parenting plan. When it becomes final, this document will govern the parenting schedule for each parent, including holiday and vacation plans. This document also talks about the importance of co-parenting, which is something a lot of Courts focus on. In fact, in New Hampshire, all parties to a parenting petition or divorce with children are required to attend a child impact seminar. This seminar discusses the perils to your children if co-parenting fails, and provides parties with the understanding to grow as co-parents.

            The second document that is most well known is the Decree, or Stipulation, or Agreement, and it is this document that governs the division of the “stuff” as we like to say. This document will dictate who gets what, and who pays what debts. This document generally covers all property division, in addition to other tangential issues.

            The third document that is most well known is the Uniform Support Order, or USO for short. The USO uses State mandated calculations (a/k/a – “Child Support Guidelines”) to determine the child support awarded in each case. It also dictates insurance coverage issues for the children, as well as the frequency of payment of support.

            At Parnell & McKay we put our extensive experience to finding a palatable solution for you and your family as you are going through a divorce. We offer the collaborative process, along with a lot of experience litigating a multitude of different divorce cases. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the divorce process, contact us today.