Every state handles car insurance a little differently. In some states, drivers who are even 1% responsible for a crash cannot recover any damages. In other states, both drivers are covered regardless of who caused the crash.
Given how much variety there is, it’s important that every Connecticut driver understands how car insurance works in our state and what it means in a potential accident.
Connecticut uses a system called “modified comparative negligence.” This sounds complicated, but it simply means that each driver is assigned a percentage of the fault. In crashes with two drivers, whoever holds more than 50% of the fault is considered responsible for the crash. That means cannot claim any damages and must cover any repairs and medical bills without help from their car insurance company. But that’s only half the story.
The “modified” part is where things get tricky. Even if you’re not at fault in a crash, you may receive less than the full amount you need to recover. That’s because the driver with less than half of the fault still has their settlement reduced by their amount of fault. Let’s look at a practical example to explain.
Sarah is t-boned by a driver who ran a stop sign. Her attorney determines that she has $1 million in damages, but the insurance companies claim that she holds 20% of the fault. Her attorney will do their best to argue that Sarah’s assigned fault should be lower, but if nothing changes, she would only receive $800,000 in damages.
Protecting Your Claim
The greater your damages, the more severe each percentage point of assigned fault. Covering a few hundred dollars out of pocket is one thing, but when you are severely or catastrophically injured and are facing a hospital bill in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is extremely stressful to know that each percentage point of assigned fault could be tens of thousands of dollars you’ll need to come up with on your own.
Worse still, the insurance companies use a number of strategies to not only shift assigned fault onto the injured but also undermine their injuries to justify a lower settlement offer. Some of the most common ways they do this include:
Questioning Your Medical Records
This is why it’s critical to go to the doctor immediately after an injury and keep going until the doctor says you are healed. If you wait more than a day or two to contact a doctor, the insurance company may suggest your injuries aren’t that serious, even if you had a latent injury that didn’t present symptoms for a time.
Additionally, you should not skip or reschedule doctor's appointments. If you do, the insurance company can use that as evidence that you don’t require long-term care and use that to justify a lower offer.
When you call your insurance adjuster, they may ask if you’d make an official statement. Always decline this offer unless your attorney is present and says otherwise. Recorded statements must be extremely precise.
Many injured drivers get nervous on the phone and overexplain themselves, not realizing that the insurance company will use their own words against them and either shift fault or reduce damages. If you ever hear that a call is being recorded, you need to end the call quickly (choosing every word carefully) and then contact your attorney immediately.
Talk to Your Attorney
Your attorney is there to guide you and provide the strongest possible legal advice. If you are unsure how to maintain or reduce your assigned fault and have your damages fairly compensated, you should talk to your attorney. An experienced lawyer will have helped many others in your position. They are best equipped to advise you on how to protect your case and get the full damages you are entitled to under the law.
If you or someone you love were seriously injured in a crash, we can fight for you. If you’d like an experienced Connecticut accident attorney from RisCassi & Davis, P.C. to evaluate your case, don’t hesitate to call us at (860) 245-2412 or send us an email!