What Are Enhanced Damages Under New Hampshire Law?

NH Enhanced Damagesreckless Someone might have been careless or inattentive and caused a crash. That person had no evil motive or conscious disregard for others, but were at fault anyway. In those circumstances, the person who was not at fault can go to court and ask to be paid for the damages suffered in the accident. A court can award money for “special” damages, which are specific losses such as medical bills, lost time at work, or damage to property. Then there are “general” damages, which account for things that can’t be quantified with ease, such as pain and suffering.

 What Are Enhanced Damages

 But what if you were hit by someone who wasn’t just being careless or inattentive? Recently, the Hillsborough Superior Court let a car accident victim ask for extra damages for having to suffer major injuries at the hands of a reckless driver. In that case, the person had a blood alcohol reading at nearly three times the legal limit. There was significant evidence that the person was unable to drive properly as a result of the alcohol consumption. So when the injured person went to court, she asked for more than the standard “special” and “general” damages. She asked to be compensated for the fact that she was a victim of “wanton, malicious, or oppressive” conduct. In considering this request, the judge referred back to two concurring opinions authored by our founding partner, Charles Douglas, who was on the Supreme Court when he declared that “drunks causing carnage on the highways” are always engaging in “wanton or reckless” conduct. Accordingly, she permitted the injured person to ask a jury for that extra award.

 Wanton, Malicious Or Oppressive Conduct

 This type of enhancement doesn’t apply only to drunk drivers. Any case involving “wanton, malicious, or oppressive” conduct can qualify. For example, enhanced damages would likely come into play in Utah, where a teenager was driving while playing a game, the “Birdbox Challenge,” and caused a crash. This game is modeled after the recent Netflix hit in which Sandra Bullock navigates her children to safety while blindfolded. It’s no surprise that this game called for the teenager to cover her eyes with her hat while she was driving. Thankfully, no one was injured, but you could imagine a judge finding that this person’s conscious decision to completely impair her ability to take the kind of action necessary to avoid causing an accident was “wanton.”

 If you have been injured in a car crash, get an attorney with the experience to determine if you’re asking for the full measure of your damages. To get started, call us at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.

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