Each state has a unique system to determine who is responsible for a car accident. For those who live in Connecticut, the system used is referred to as “modified comparative negligence.” Unfortunately, unless you have first-hand experience in or with the legal system, you may have no idea what that means or how it can impact you.
After an accident, it’s smart to hire a Connecticut injury lawyer to understand your rights. You can also use the information here to learn more about these laws and the impact they can have on your car accident case, and the compensation you ultimately receive.
Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence
Connecticut operates as an “at-fault” state. This means someone will always be held responsible for an accident. However, since comparative negligence is used, everyone involved in the accident is given a certain percentage of fault based on their negligence and how their actions led to the accident.
In an accident involving two parties, the total fault that is distributed will equal 100%. The person who is over 50% at fault is the one who is considered responsible for the accident. The at-fault driver will not be allowed to recover any damages to help them pay their medical costs or repair any damages to their vehicle.
For the “modified” part of comparative negligence, it means that drivers will be penalized based on how much at fault they are. The penalty will reduce the amount of the final settlement that is awarded. To better understand how this law works, consider the following examples:
- A driver is found to be 51% to blame for the accident, which means they are unable to recover damages.
- A driver is found to be 25% at fault for the accident, with a settlement of $100,000. This amount is reduced by 25%, which means they receive $75,000.
- A driver is found to be 0% to blame for the accident, awarded $100,000 as a settlement, and receives the total amount awarded (minus lawyer and legal fees).
Working to Determine Assigned Fault
Sometimes, the assignment of fault is subjective. It’s difficult to determine how an insurance adjuster will determine if someone is 22% at fault or 32% at fault. Each percentage point given by the insurance company reduces the settlement that you can receive when following the rules set by modified comparative negligence.
One of the most important factors to understand when it comes to assigning fault is that it isn’t permanent. The percentage can shift if the involved drivers are not careful. Saying or doing the wrong thing after an accident can be used to shift who is considered at fault for an accident.
One example would be someone who was t-boned after being struck by someone who ran through a red light. You contact your insurance company to report the accident and let them know you did not see the other driver and had no time to react. In this case, the insurance company may use what you said to shift the assigned fault and claim that the accident would not have happened if you had been paying attention.
Avoiding Cases of Fault Redistribution
In Connecticut car accident cases, you need to remember that what you can recover is on the line until you receive a settlement order. Because of this, you must take steps to prevent cases of fault redistribution. This includes being careful about what you say and who you talk to. Some of the ways you can avoid fault redistribution include:
Don’t Make Recorded Statements
After an accident, the insurance company may request that you make a statement. If this occurs or a call is being recorded, choose your words carefully. A recorded statement requires specific language to ensure you don’t have to deal with fault reassignment. Because of this, it is best to have a lawyer with you or have a lawyer handle the call.
Avoid Posting on Social Media
While you may want to let, your friends and family know you are okay, avoid posting about it on social media after an accident. Insurance agencies can also find information (even on private accounts) and use it for fault reassignment.
Hire a Connecticut Personal Injury Attorney for Help
To ensure you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve, it is best to hire a Connecticut, personal injury attorney. They can review your case and help you get your compensation. They will also work to help you avoid fault assignment in the accident, which may reduce your settlement amount.