According to the University of Connecticut’s Crash Data Repository, there were 99,021 total motor vehicle accidents in the state in 2021. In total, over 230,000 people were directly involved in a crash. Given Connecticut’s estimated population of 3,605,597 in 2021, this means that a number of people proportionate to 6.6% of the state’s residents were involved in a car crash in some way, shape, or form. With such a high number of collisions and the ever-present risk of suffering serious harm or significant property damage in a crash, it’s important to understand how you can go about recovering compensation in the aftermath of a wreck.
Why Do Car Accidents Occur?
Before we discuss the compensation process for Connecticut car accidents, we wanted to briefly discuss some of the reasons that a collision can occur. The accident attorneys at Jacobs & Jacobs, LLC note that a crash can happen when:
- A driver is distracted, whether by an electronic device, a passenger, or something in their car
- A vehicle is travelling at an unsafe speed
- Someone is driving recklessly or violating the rules of the road
- An inexperienced driver loses control of their vehicle or makes a mistake that results in a collision
- Defective or dangerous vehicle parts fail suddenly
- Dangerous weather or road conditions interfere with a driver’s ability to control their car
Going back to the Crash Data Repository statistics for accidents in 2021, we observed that the five most common types of collisions in the state were between:
- Multiple moving motor vehicles (73,608)
- A moving motor vehicle and a parked motor vehicle (3,308)
- A guardrail face (2,841)
- A light or utility pole (1,944)
- Other posts or poles (1,464)
Although not quite a top five factor in terms of the number of collisions, a significant number of crashes (933) occurred when a motor vehicle struck a deer. While driving in forested or rural areas, it’s important to keep an eye out for the local wildlife. Striking a large animal can cause substantial damage to your car and result in serious injuries for the driver and any passengers.
What Kinds of Compensation Are Available After a Car Accident?
In addition to being a stressful and emotionally draining experience, a car crash can also be incredibly expensive. The costs of repairing your vehicle or property damage, paying for medical care for you or an injured loved one, and potentially missing time at work add up quickly. Recovering compensation, whether through an insurance settlement or car accident lawsuit, may very well be key to ensuring you are able to get back to your normal day-to-day life. In the aftermath of your crash, you may be able to recover the following:
- Coverage of hospital and ambulance services
- Payment for follow-up medical care
- Reimbursement for necessary medical devices or medicines
- Coverage for physical therapy or another form of rehabilitation
- Any income lost if you are unable to work for a period following the collision
- Any out-of-pocket costs related to the crash
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
In some cases, a judge may assess punitive damages in a Connecticut car accident lawsuit. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for the harm they suffered in the crash but rather to punish the defendant for behavior that shows a “reckless indifference to the rights of others or an intentional or wanton violation of those rights.”
Who is Legally Liable for a Connecticut Car Accident?
Regarding motor vehicle accidents, Connecticut has a fault-based insurance system in place. The driver responsible for causing a crash is responsible for the damages of the collision’s victims. As such, all drivers in the state are legally obligated to carry liability insurance.
The state does recognize that not all accidents arise solely through the actions of one party. If a plaintiff’s actions contributed to their accident, they may still be able to recover some measure of damages. If the plaintiff is found to share 51% or less of the responsibility for the accidents, they are eligible to receive damages. The total amount of recoverable damages decreases according to the responsibility a plaintiff bears for causing a crash. For example, if a driver is found to have been 10% at fault for causing a crash, they are entitled to 90% of the damages originally awarded.
Proving Fault After a Car Accident
It can be challenging to prove who was responsible for a car crash. In the aftermath of the collision, you may find that your memories of the event have faded, or the driver responsible for the crash may attempt to elude responsibility. Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante recommend gathering as much evidence as possible after the accident, so you have a stronger case in court. You should:
- Take photographs of the accident scene. Get pictures of the vehicles involved, any property damage incurred, injuries suffered, tire tracks or car debris in the roadway, and any defective road conditions that you believe played a role in the situation. If the scene is unsafe for any reason, do not put yourself at risk to document the aftermath of the crash.
- Get a copy of the police report. If the local authorities note that you are not the responsible party in the aftermath of the collision, this can substantially help your claim.
- Take down statements and contact information of witnesses. If other drivers or bystanders saw or recorded the accident, ask them for their contact information. If your account of events is supported by the testimony of multiple bystanders, your legal case is strengthened.
- Speak to a local car accident attorney. After an accident, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you are able to. They will explain your legal options and work diligently to pursue compensation on your behalf as you recover from the collision. If necessary, they can bring in specialists, such as an accident reconstruction expert, to help demonstrate that you did not cause the crash.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
It is a common misconception that a car accident claim can be filed at any time. Most states in the U.S. have a statute of limitations that governs the length of time within which a personal injury claim may be filed. In Connecticut, you must file within two years of your accident. There may be some exceptions to this rule; as an example, a crash victim younger than eighteen years old will likely be given two years to file a claim beginning on their eighteenth birthday.
Seek Legal Counsel as Quickly as Possible Following an Accident
Even if your crash did not cause serious harm to you or a passenger, it’s still worth contacting a car accident lawyer. They may be able to secure a better settlement than the responsible party’s insurance company originally offered, or they could uncover subtle crash factors that reduce your liability following the collision. Many Connecticut law firms offer a free initial consultation, so there is no risk to meeting with at least one attorney to discuss the details of your unique case.