By Brenda Benitez, Esq.
Although automobile liability insurance is mandatory in all states, each state has its own version of laws for determining fault in a car accident. This article should not be taken as a complete guide; it is important to fully understand how the law works in the state where you had your accident and contact an experienced attorney to answer any questions and guide you in this process.
What Does “At Fault” Mean in the State of Connecticut?
Connecticut is currently considered an “at-fault” state. This is the most common system of fault across the United States. It means that if you are injured in a car accident, you can attempt to recover compensation from the other driver or his/her insurance carrier. The catch is that you must prove that the other driver is more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. It is important to note that in some accidents, multiple parties can be considered at-fault and their compensation would be reduced according to their share of the blame. Assuming you get past that first hurdle, you must then prove that the injuries you suffered were caused by the negligence of the other driver and you are therefore entitled to compensation for those damages.
In a claim against the at-fault driver or their insurance carrier, you may be able to recover not just reimbursement for medical bills and lost income, but pain and suffering damages as well. These damages allow injured parties to be compensated for physical pain as well as the mental and emotional stress caused by an injury.
If Your Accident Was with an Uninsured Driver
If you were involved in an accident with a driver who left the scene or one who was not covered under an active insurance policy, you may still be able to recover for your injuries. So long as it is determined by a police officer at the scene or after an investigation that you were not the at-fault driver for your accident, you may make an Uninsured Motorist claim with your own insurance carrier. This kind of claim works the same as one against the at-fault driver’s policy in that you have to prove the injuries you suffered were caused by the accident.
Options for Passengers
If you were a passenger in a car accident, you have the benefit of not having to prove the first hurdle previously discussed: who was at-fault for the accident. As a passenger, you had no control over the accident and so you have a claim regardless of who is determined to be at-fault (even if it is the driver of the vehicle you were in). The drivers and their insurance carriers will have to come together to determine the apportionment of responsibility and you make your claim against the drivers or their insurance carriers accordingly. As with every claim, you will still have to prove your damages were caused by the accident.
Insurance Settlements Aren’t Your Only Option
Oftentimes, insurance companies will attempt to settle claims outside the court system. In the Connecticut at-fault system, if you and the insurance company cannot come to an agreement as to the value of your case, you can bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court. Court cases involve more costs and may take longer but they can also ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. The best thing you can do is consult with an experienced attorney to see what the value of your case might be and which strategy may work best for your case.
Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith has been helping accident victims throughout the State of Connecticut for more than 55 years. With its main office locations in Danbury and Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith focuses on personal injury claims, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and workers’ compensation, mass torts and complex pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. For more information, visit VRSLaw.com or call (203) 800-8000.