Car Accident Liability Cases

Posted On March 20, 2023 Uncategorized
Car Accident Liability Cases

A car accident can result in significant financial and personal losses. It can lead to expensive medical bills and growing debt if you’re unable to work due to accident injuries.

If a car accident injured you, you may seek compensation from the parties who caused the crash. However, you must first establish who caused the accident. This requires evidence showing who caused the crash. Once you prove the other driver’s fault for the accident, you can pursue compensation for your injuries through the auto insurance company or a lawsuit.

Proving car accident liability and pursuing compensation are much easier with the help of a skilled lawyer. An experienced car accident attorney knows how to build a strong case. Your lawyer can advocate for your interests if the other parties try to minimize their liability by shifting blame to you. Read on to learn more about liability for car accidents in Connecticut. Reach out to a Connecticut car accident lawyer.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Super Lawyers Top 50 Connecticut Lawyer AwardCar accidents can have a wide range of causes, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating/following too closely
  • Reckless driving
  • Aggressive driving/road rage
  • Running red lights/stop signs and disregarding traffic controls
  • Unsafe or illegal lane changes and turns
  • Failing to use turn signals and mirrors
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors
  • Drowsy/fatigued driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Mechanical failures caused by car or auto part defects or inadequate maintenance
  • Poor road conditions, such as black ice, potholes, or debris in the road
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Low lighting or poor visibility

Types of Car Accident Liability

Car Accident Liability CasesCar accident liability refers to determining which party is responsible for causing a car accident and holding them accountable. Liability for a car accident may fall on one of the drivers involved. It may also include other parties who have the legal responsibility to compensate car accident victims.

Drivers can cause car accidents either due to negligence or recklessness. Negligence occurs when a driver fails to operate their vehicle with reasonable care. Driving with care can mean driving within the speed limit, avoiding distractions behind the wheel, and obeying traffic laws.

Recklessness involves more than simply failing to exercise reasonable care. Instead, a reckless driver consciously disregards a known risk that their behavior may cause injuries. Examples of recklessness include street racing, swerving around stopped or slowed traffic, or getting behind the wheel while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs.

In certain circumstances, a car accident case may also involve strict liability. Strict liability usually occurs in car accident claims arising from a defect in the vehicle. Under Connecticut law, manufacturers have strict liability for design or manufacturing defects. Strict liability means that a party has responsibility for accident injuries and losses regardless of their fault or state of mind.

Connecticut’s Comparative Negligence Rules

Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-572h sets forth the state’s comparative negligence rule, which governs car accident liability. Under the law, each party bears financial responsibility for a car accident in proportion to their percentage of fault for the crash. The rule permits an injured car accident victim to pursue compensation if their share of fault doesn’t exceed the percentage of fault of the opposing party or parties.

However, a partially liable car accident victim may have a reduction in their financial recovery in proportion to their percentage of fault. For example, if an injured driver has $100,000 in losses from a car crash and the driver bears 25 percent of the fault, they can recover up to $75,000.

Who May Have Liability for a Car Accident?

In addition to the drivers involved in a car accident, other parties may have liability for injuries and losses resulting from the crash.

These parties may include:

  • The car’s owner. A vehicle owner may have liability for a car accident if the owner negligently entrusted their car to a driver who caused the accident.
  • The driver’s employer. Under employer liability, a business may have liability for a car accident caused by one of its workers during their job duties.
  • The government. Federal, state, or local government agencies may have financial responsibility for a car accident caused by a government-owned vehicle or by a government employee driving on the job.
  • The car’s manufacturer or third-party part manufacturers. Manufacturers may be responsible for defective vehicles or vehicle parts.
  • A bar or restaurant. Under Connecticut’s dram shop law, a bar or restaurant may have liability for a car accident if the establishment serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who causes a crash after leaving the establishment.

Auto Insurance Requirements Under Connecticut Law

Connecticut requires auto insurance policies issued to vehicle owners in the state to obtain minimum coverage:

  • Bodily injury/death liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage of at least $25,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage equal to the purchased bodily injury liability coverage

Bodily injury liability coverage pays compensation to other injured victims of a car accident, while property damage liability coverage compensates accident victims for car damage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage allows a car accident victim to seek compensation from their own insurance provider when an at-fault driver lacks adequate liability insurance. Uninsured coverage also provides compensation to a victim of a hit-and-run car accident.

Other optional insurance coverages available to car owners include:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Also called medical payments coverage, PIP provides compensation for various expenses incurred due to car accident injuries. An injured accident victim may obtain PIP benefits regardless of who caused the car crash. PIP coverage can provide reimbursement for funeral/burial expenses for someone killed in a car accident.
  • Comprehensive/collision coverage. Collision coverage will pay for repairs of car accident damage or reimburse you for the value of a totaled vehicle. Comprehensive coverage can pay for repairs of non-collision-related damage, such as weather or theft damage.

Compensation Available in Car Accident Claims

After you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you may pursue claims against liable parties to recover compensation for your:

  • Car repairs and temporary alternative transportation expenses
  • Reimbursement for the value of your car if the insurance company declares it a total loss
  • Damaged or destroyed personal property in your car
  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation, including emergency care, surgeries, hospitalization, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, and physical/occupational therapy
  • Long-term care and support for permanent disabilities, including home health services, housekeeping, home maintenance, medical/mobility equipment purchases, and installation of disability accommodations
  • Loss of wages/income for the time you took off work while recovering from your injuries
  • Ongoing and future reduced earning capacity if you cannot return to your pre-accident job or become permanently disabled
  • Physical pain and emotional distress from the accident, your injuries/disabilities, and medical treatments
  • Loss of enjoyment and quality of life due to physical disabilities or visible scarring/disfigurement interfering with daily living

How Do You Prove Liability for a Car Accident?

Proving fault for a car accident requires securing different kinds of evidence.

Evidence that can establish what happened in a car accident includes:

  • Accident scene photos and videos, including photos of vehicle damage, visible injuries, skid marks, traffic signs/signals, visual obstructions, and weather/lighting/road/traffic conditions
  • Police accident reports
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Written accounts of the accident from the involved drivers
  • Surveillance/traffic camera or dash cam footage of the accident
  • Driver cell phone records
  • Results of drivers’ alcohol/drug tests
  • Logs from the internal computers of the cars involved in the accident
  • Car maintenance records
  • Post-accident vehicle inspection/repair reports
  • Expert engineering reports
  • Expert accident reconstruction reports
  • Weather records from the day of the crash
  • Traffic light timing records and road sensor data

Steps to Take to Help Establish Car Accident Liability

After a car accident, you can put yourself in the best position to pursue a liability claim when you:

  • Document the accident scene by taking photos and videos as soon as possible after the car accident.
  • Promptly report the accident to your car insurance company to secure your eligibility for coverage under your policy.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident to document your injuries and begin treatment. Follow your medical provider’s advice and treatment instructions.
  • Request a copy of the police accident report and copies of your medical records.
  • Keep copies of repair records after you fix the damage to your vehicle.
  • Write down your recollection of the accident to refresh your memory in the future.
  • Keep copies of your correspondence with insurance companies.
  • Gather bills, invoices, and receipts of expenses you have due to the accident, including car repairs and medical treatment.
  • Start a journal to document the pain and physical impairment you experience during your recovery.
  • Avoid posting about the accident, your injuries, or your case on social media. Insurers may monitor your accounts for any posts that contradict your car accident claim.

Finally, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible so your lawyer can investigate the crash and recover evidence proving liability for your injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Liability

Common questions that car accident victims have about pursuing liability claims against other parties include:

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?

Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-584, you have two years to file a lawsuit after a car accident. If you file your lawsuit after two years, you risk having the trial court permanently dismiss your case as untimely filed.

In addition, if you have a car accident claim against the government, federal and state laws require you to file a notice of your claim with the appropriate government agency before you can sue the government. For example, if you have a car accident claim against the Connecticut state government, Section 4-148 states that you must present your notice within one year of the car accident.

How Long Will It Take to Recover Compensation?

Each car accident case will have a unique timeline.

Factors that may affect how long it will take you to resolve your car accident claim include:

  • The type and severity of injuries you suffered in the crash
  • The duration of your medical recovery
  • Whether you suffer from any permanent disabilities
  • Whether you miss time from work or become permanently unable to do your job
  • The number of other injured victims in the accident
  • The number of liable parties in the case
  • Whether the at-fault parties dispute their percentage of liability for the crash
  • Whether you bear any responsibility for causing the accident or your injuries
  • The amount and complexity of the evidence in the case
  • How quickly the insurance company investigates your claim and responds to your communications
  • Whether you need to file a lawsuit to pursue your compensation claims
  • The case schedule imposed on your suit by the trial court

Does a Car Accident Settlement Mean the Other Driver or Party Admits Liability?

If the other driver agrees to pay you compensation in a car accident settlement, that does not mean they have admitted responsibility for causing the accident. Instead, many settlement agreements state that the paying party may continue to deny liability for the car accident. Settlements give drivers and insurers a means of reducing litigation expenses and mitigating the risk of losing the case at trial.

Will I Have to Go to Court to Prove Liability for the Car Accident?

Brian M. Flood

Car Accident Lawyer, Brian Flood

Most car accident claims settle with the insurance company before going to trial. However, some cases end up in court when both sides deny liability for the accident or disagree over the losses incurred.

In a car accident lawsuit, a jury or the judge will serve as the fact finder at trial. The court will then issue a verdict stating the respective shares of liability of each party involved in the accident. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

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