Firm Overview

Main Office

Main Office
P.O. Box 575
Laconia NH 03247






Personal Injury

All too often, devastating harm can result from a moment of carelessness or inattention. When this happens, and someone else is hurt, the victim typically has the right to bring a negligence claim against any party that was responsible.

To succeed in a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, the defendant failed to conform to that duty, the defendant's actions caused an accident, and the plaintiff incurred damages. In most situations, the duty consists of exercising reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to other people. However, depending on the relationship of the parties and other facts involved in the case, the appropriate standard may be more specific. In premises liability cases, for example, property owners are expected to inspect their premises for hazards and either fix them or warn customers and guests about the associated risks.

If a defendant's conduct does not conform to the applicable standard of care, the defendant will be found to have breached his or her duty to the plaintiff. Next, the element of causation may be established through evidence that the defendant's unreasonable conduct actually and proximately caused the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. This involves proof that the accident would not have occurred "but for" the defendant's careless actions and that the harm caused was a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's conduct. Even if the plaintiff partially caused the accident, he or she may still be awarded damages that are proportionate to the defendant's percentage of fault, if the plaintiff was not more than 50 percent responsible.

Compensatory damages that are typically available in personal injury cases may cover both economic and non-economic forms of harm. General damages are comprised of pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, lost earning capacity, and other factors that are relatively subjective. By contrast, special damages are designed to compensate you for medical bills, physical therapy, and other items that are more easily quantified.

In some of the most tragic cases, an accident can result in a needless loss of life. When this happens, the family members of the victim can bring a wrongful death claim to seek damages on their loved one's behalf, as well as damages based on the harm that their loved one's death caused them. Forms of compensation may range from burial expenses and the victim's conscious pain and suffering before death to the loss of comfort, care, companionship, and guidance endured by the family.

Workers Compensation

The injury attorneys at Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil can help workers pursue the maximum amount of benefits that they deserve and represent them in appeals if their initial claims are denied.

Most employers are required to cover injuries suffered by their employees in the course of their jobs. Employers usually have workers' compensation insurance. A coverage to provide employees the benefits that are required by statute. Under the New Hampshire Workers' Compensation Law, employees may be entitled to payments for permanent injury if applicable, medical expenses, prescriptions, lost wages, and other benefits. The injury attorneys at Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil can help workers pursue the maximum amount of benefits that they deserve and represent them in appeals if their initial claims are denied. Serving people throughout Belknap, Carroll, Grafton, and Merrimack Counties, and throughout New Hampshire since 1914, our New Hampshire workers' compensation lawyers have substantial legal experience and a reputation of achieving outstanding results.

Auto Accident

Motor vehicle collisions may result in serious injuries that require expensive medical treatment. Fortunately, victims may be able to pursue compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages from the negligent driver.

In New Hampshire, negligent drivers may be held responsible for the harm caused by a failure to use reasonable care while driving. To succeed in a negligence claim, the plaintiff has the burden to establish the elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages.

As a matter of law, the defendant must owe a duty of care to the injured person. In car accident cases, this duty applies to every person behind the wheel, and it requires exercising reasonable care in avoiding harm to others while operating a vehicle on the road. The plaintiff may show that the defendant breached that duty by failing to exercise reasonable care while driving. Typical examples of careless driving include violating the rules of the road, such as by speeding or disobeying traffic signs, distracted driving while using a cell phone or other device, or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The element of causation requires proof that the defendant's negligence caused an injury to the plaintiff. Causation consists of actual causation, under which the injury would not have occurred "but for" the defendant's negligence, and proximate causation, meaning that the injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's actions. In New Hampshire, plaintiffs who partially caused a car accident may still receive some damages in an injury claim as long as they are less at fault for the accident than the defendant, although their damages may be reduced proportionately.

Plaintiffs in a motor vehicle accident case may be able to recover compensatory damages, such as past and future medical expenses, lost earnings and wages, property damage, and other economic costs. They may also be awarded general damages for non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, disfigurement, and disability, among others. Generally, a personal injury claim must be brought within three years from the date of the accident, although there are certain exceptions that may extend this deadline and certain situations where it may be reduced and have an accelerated deadline for some action or filing by the plaintiff. Consequently, it is wise to consult an experienced legal professional after a motor vehicle accident as soon as reasonably possible.

Wrongful Death

The death of a family member can be difficult to accept when it was caused by someone else's negligence. Fortunately, survivors may have recourse to hold careless parties responsible for the loss of their loved ones.

An injury attorney at Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil can help surviving family members of accident victims assert their right to compensation. Our New Hampshire wrongful death lawyers understand how much this process means to bereaved families and will work vigorously to pursue a successful outcome. We can provide compassionate, individualized representation to people throughout New Hampshire, including Belknap, Grafton, Carroll, and Merrimack Counties.

Assert Your Rights through a Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury case in which the victim has ultimately died from injuries caused by the negligent or illegal actions of another person or entity. This type of action may arise after a devastating car, motorcycle, or truck accident, or a fatal slip and fall, among other examples. It may be based on various theories of liability, the most common of which is negligence. To succeed in a wrongful death claim, therefore, the plaintiff must establish all of the elements of the underlying theory of liability. For example, a wrongful death claim based on negligence would require proof of a duty owed by the defendant to the victim, a breach of that duty, actual and proximate causation, and damages.

If the liability of the defendant can be established, the court or jury will determine the appropriate damages award. Damages to the estate may consist of medical expenses, the mental and physical pain suffered by the victim before death, loss of earning capacity, funeral costs and other reasonable expenses, and the loss of enjoyment of life of the victim. Proof of damages may require expert testimony for some forms of compensation, such as those based on the life expectancy of the victim.

In addition, the surviving spouse and minor children of the victim may be awarded damages for the loss of the comfort and companionship of their loved one. Even if the actions of the victim or plaintiff are found to have partially or totally caused the death, an award of damages may still be available, proportionately reduced by the fault attributed to him or her. Certain damages may be subject to other time limits, and, therefore, contacting an attorney promptly is advisable.

In New Hampshire, wrongful death actions may be brought by anyone with a legal interest in the decedent's estate as an administrator, and they are not limited to surviving relatives or the estate. The action usually must be brought within three years after the decedent's death, or it may be barred by the statute of limitations.


How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

For more than 100 years, Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil, PLLC has championed the rights of clients by putting the power of our experience and excellence to work.

Jerry O'Neil

Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil, PLLC

Personal Injury & Trial
Workers' Compensation
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Wrongful Death
Social Security

Jerry heads the firm's litigation department and maintains an active personal injury practice representing victims of defective products, severe automobile accidents, and police misconduct and civil rights violations. He also frequently represents workers who have been injured in work related accidents before the New Hampshire Department of Labor and Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.

Jerry was voted one of New Hampshire's Top 6 Workers' Compensation Attorneys in Woodward-White's "The Best Lawyers in America" poll, as printed in the October, 2004, issue of New Hampshire Magazine and in each succeeding year.

J.D., DePaul University, 1979
B.A., St. Michaels College, 1976
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
United States Supreme Court, 1996
U. S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, 1995
U. S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, 1979

Lafrance James

Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil, PLLC

Personal Injury & Trial
Workers' Compensation Law
Employment Law
Civil Litigation

Jim joined Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil after law school, becoming a partner in 1994. His diverse trial practice involves representing clients in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies concerning personal injury claims, employment related disputes on behalf of both employers and employees, discrimination claims, workers' compensation claims and commercial matters.

Jim is a member of the Belknap County, New Hampshire, and American Bar Associations; a sustaining member of the New Hampshire Association for Justice; and a Fellow of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Active in bar association activities, he was a co-recipient of the President's Award for Distinguished Service to the Legal Profession. He has also been active in several local community endeavors.

J.D., Boston College Law School, 1984
Cum Laude
B.A., Colby College in Waterville, Maine
With Honors

Bill Woodbury

Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil, PLLC

Disability and Injury Law
Employment Law
Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation
Criminal Representation
Family Law
Construction Law and Mechanics Liens
Neighbor Disputes

Bill regularly defends individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses in District and Superior Court and frequently handles motor vehicle violations and administrative hearings at the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles. With a strong medical background, Bill brings a special depth of understanding to his representation of injured workers, disabled individuals and accident victims. Bill represents injured and disabled people before the New Hampshire Department of Labor, Superior Court, and Social Security Administration and handles ERISA long and short term disability benefits cases before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. A strong advocate for workers' rights, he represents victims of workplace harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination. Bill has also represented many homeowners, landlords and contractors in faulty construction cases, neighbor disputes, collection matters and eviction actions.

Prior to attending law school, Bill spent eleven years as an Emergency Medical Technician for a major pre-hospital care provider in southern New Hampshire and Maine. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the New Hampshire Bar Association, the Belknap County Bar Association, and the American Association for Justice. Bill proudly serves as Treasurer and Legislative Committee Chair for the New Hampshire Association for Justice.

J.D., Syracuse University College of Law, 2003
B.S., University of New Hampshire

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