Home to over 3.6 million people, the Constitution state of Connecticut sees hundreds of fatal car accidents each year. Connecticut car accident laws guide victims through the legal process after a crash.
Knowing Connecticut’s accident laws before talking to an auto accident lawyer about your case is wise. Whether you call Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven, or another Connecticut town your home, each car accident is different. Your situation requires the expertise of an attorney to get an appropriate settlement.
How to Report a Car Accident in Connecticut
In Connecticut car accident law, any crash resulting in injury or property damage must be reported to the police. If law enforcement comes to your accident scene, you won’t need to file a separate report, but always ask for a copy to prove liability for your claim.
When you file for compensation from your insurance company, it is called a first-party claim. These are claims you file with your own insurance company for vehicle damage, medical bills or lost wages.
- You can only file a claim like this if you have purchased such coverage.
- You would also file a first-party claim if the at-fault party has no auto insurance. In this case, your own uninsured motorist coverage may then compensate you for your losses.
You may file a third-party claim when you seek payment directly from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Many accident victims prefer to make a third-party claim to not involve their own insurance provider. However, if you file with the other driver’s insurance company without a lawyer, you will likely receive a settlement offer almost immediately.
IMPORTANT: If you take the first offer they give you, you forfeit the right to pursue additional compensation in the future in most cases.
What to Do at the Scene of a Crash
During a car crash, the health and safety of everyone involved matters the most. Follow these steps so everyone in the crash stays well, but also to prepare yourself legally in the near future.
- First, check for injuries and render assistance if you are able. This is mandatory under Section 14-224 of Connecticut’s General Statutes.
- Call the local police if there is damage to vehicles, and/or 911 if there are injuries.
- Move the vehicle to a safe location out of traffic and then calmly give details of the crash to the police.
- Take pictures or videos of the crash site and write down in your phone’s Notes app when, where, and how the accident took place. Note the time of day, weather, and the speed you were driving.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Insurance information is important to share. Also record their names, phone numbers, and address.
- Gather witness information from any bystanders who saw the crash happen.
While you are gathering information, don’t admit any fault in the accident to be polite. Avoid arguing with the other driver and keep conversations brief, but cordial. Any indication of fault may be used against you and will dramatically reduce your chance for an adequate settlement.
Later, file an accident report if the police did not do so. Contact your insurance company, visit a doctor following the accident, and keep notes on any changes in your health.
Is Connecticut a No-Fault State?
No, Connecticut follows a “fault” system.
The person or people at-fault for the crash must pay for the damages others received due to the accident. This means their insurance must compensate anyone who suffered as a result of the crash – up to their policy limits.
Connecticut Car Insurance Laws
Connecticut requires vehicle owners to have the following minimum amounts of insurance coverage:
- $25,000 per person for injuries
- $50,000 per accident for injuries if more than one person is hurt
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
- $25,000 per person for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- $50,000 per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
It’s important to know bodily injury settlement amounts available in your state, as Connecticut requires underinsured insurance coverage. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage after a car accident.
Additional Coverage Options
The minimum liability coverages in Connecticut car accident law don’t cover your own damages after a car accident. Therefore, many drivers carry additional insurance coverage, which include:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) or Med Pay coverage, paying for your medical bills
- Collision coverage pay for repairs or replacement of your damaged vehicle after a car accident
Comparative Negligence Laws in Connecticut
Like many other states, Connecticut has a modified comparative fault rule. This means a car accident victim can only receive financial recovery when their percentage of fault is less than the other driver(s) involved.
Connecticut General Statutes section 52-572h states that in a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover money from the other at-fault party. However, your damages will be reduced by a percentage that corresponds to your share of liability.
If you’re found 20% at-fault for a crash, you’re entitled to 80% of your original settlement amount once calculations are finished. You have the opportunity to claim for damages even if you have a minor role in causing the accident.
This is why an auto accident lawyer is key to confirming your liability after a crash. A lawyer will protect you from other parties like insurance companies or other lawyers from exaggerating your liability. This will allow you to maximize your settlement after a crash.
Types of Damages in Connecticut Car Accident Law
You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages after a car crash in Connecticut. Economic damages count measurable losses like medical bills and vehicle damages, while non-economic damages are non-measurable losses like emotional distress.
The following are examples of economic damages, but your lawyer may apply different damages depending on your case. Make sure you are talking with your lawyer and describe your case fully to confirm whether these economic damages apply to you:
- All medical expenses
- Lost income
- Lost future income
- Vehicle repairs or replacement
- Cost of a rental vehicle
- Cost of physical therapy treatments
- Cost of in-home care
These are the losses that cannot be easily measured. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost employment possibilities
Limits on Damages
Compensatory damages are provided with the goal to make the victim “whole” after being injured by the at-fault party.
Connecticut does not limit the amount of damages a victim can receive. There was a recent case in this state in which the damages awarded to a car accident victim exceeded $5 million.
Connecticut Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
There is a two-year deadline to file your car accident claim in Connecticut. This limitation applies to the filing of most car accident lawsuits in Connecticut’s civil court system.
Connecticut General Statutes section 52-584 makes the statute of limitations clear:
“No action to recover damages for injury to the person, or to real or personal property, caused by negligence, or by reckless or wanton misconduct shall be brought but within two years from the date when the injury is first sustained.”
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Connecticut car accident law starts the statute of limitations on the day of the accident and is calculated from that date.
However, this is different if the car accident caused someone’s death, and the family files a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. In this case, the clock starts running from the date of the victim’s death. That date might be different from the date of the accident.
IMPORTANT: Connecticut General Statutes section 52-555 states that no Connecticut wrongful death claim can be made if more than five years have passed since the date of the underlying accident.
LegalASAP Can Connect You with a Local Auto Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are difficult to deal with if you don’t have expert help. The good news is that an attorney in Connecticut can navigate the complex legal process for you. Also, you may receive a higher settlement than if you agreed to an auto insurance company’s first offer.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.