Motor Vehicle Accident Cases in CT

Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

Statistics tell us that a collision happens once every 10 seconds, but when it happens to you, it is always a shock. If you have been in a motor vehicle accident in Connecticut, whether you are a driver or passenger, you know the feelings of confusion, worry, and aggravation at the prospect of having to deal with insurance companies, make a legal claim, or file a lawsuit.

The situation is much worse if you have been injured or are confronted by the injury or death of a loved one. You will most certainly have concerns and questions on things such as:

  • How to pay your medical expenses?
  • What happens if you can’t return to work?
  • Where financial support for your family will come from?
  • Will you be compensated for damages?

The crash may have taken a fraction of a second, but recovery can be a lengthy, frustrating process, especially when dealing with an insurance adjuster. It is best not to consider navigating the legal system without the guidance of an attorney.

Your Property Damage Claim

If you cannot fall back on your own insurance company for repair, total loss, or rental benefits, and the police report does not take care of this issue, you should consider Small Claims Court. The amount in dispute must be less than $10,000 and it may take some effort on your part, but there is sometimes no better or faster remedy available.

In most cases, and especially if there are no significant personal injuries, you will have to act as your own lawyer in Small Claims Court. After all, you want to recover what it takes to repair or replace your vehicle, not spend the money you need on an attorney.  Small Claims Court is a true “people’s court” and the court’s clerks are friendly and helpful. What’s best is that if the issue is limited to who was at fault for your vehicle’s damage and how much you should be paid for repairs or its total loss, losing your case does not affect any claim for personal injuries.

I keep being asked for the police report. How can I get it?

Do NOT call the emergency 911 line. Instead, call the “records” office of the police department whose officer investigated the crash. The “information summary” form given to the drivers at the scene lists the name and town of the investigating officer (or, if the officer was a State trooper, the Troop letter), and the accident report number. You can find the number online, researching the town name or, if a State trooper investigated, under State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety.

The fastest way to get the report is to get it from the town’s department or State Police Troop yourself. If the report is not ready, you can ask to leave a message for the investigating officer. It is best to ask politely rather than to demand it. Individual officers and troopers often respond well to requests for help, but your demand will only serve as a reminder of how busy they are with other things.

How am I going to get around until my vehicle is repaired or I’m paid for a total loss?

Until your vehicle is repaired or you actually receive payment for its value, you are entitled to either have a rental car paid for directly by the insurance company of the owner at fault, or to be paid a modest amount for your daily “loss of use” of your car. Most often, the choice is yours.

How can I check the “value” of my car myself?

As with many things these days, finding information can be done most quickly on the internet. Quick estimates can be found from Kelly Blue Book (www.kbb.com), Edmunds (www.edmunds.com) and NADA (www.nadaguides.com). Just remember—do not rely on figures showing the dealer’s selling price for your vehicle, known commonly as retail value, because the selling price includes dealer profit.  You want to look more closely at trade-in value, or the price a dealer would have paid to buy your vehicle if it had not been damaged.  If you do not have internet access, the reference desk of your local library is a good place to go. If you do have internet access, you can try to calculate through the same sites the insurance companies are allowed to use.

In our book we also provide you with the answers to the following questions and more related to motor vehicle accidents:

  • My own insurance policy covers a rental vehicle. Should I use it, or just rely on the insurer for the owner at fault?
  • The insurance company for the owner at fault says my vehicle is a total loss and wants my title and keys; should I provide them?
  • Should I get insurance for the rental car? Won’t the insurance company of the owner at fault pay for it?
  • The insurance company is going to pay for a rental car; how does that work?

To learn more about motor vehicle accident cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our full pocket guide for FREE via this link: https://mailchi.mp/c0a77d196567/book-download

Wrongful Death Cases in CT

Wrongful Death Cases

The common law definition of a wrongful death claim is a civil action that arises where damages are claimed against a party for causing the death of another, due to a negligent or careless act, possibly a criminal or reckless act. The breach of an established standard of care and the resulting harm ultimately leads to the death of an individual, giving rise to the claim. A wrongful death claim gives recognition to the fact that there is value in life. If a life is lost due to a negligent act, or a failure to act, there are lives left behind: spouses, children, and parents. The estate of the deceased individual has the right to pursue compensation for the things that those left behind have lost—the balance of enjoyment in their life, the companionship of those they had been with, their ability to contribute to  the welfare and safety, both economically and non-economically, of their family members.

Wrongful death claims are a type of personal injury claim, and require experienced and sophisticated analysis. The demands of these cases, both from a case management standpoint and a client counseling standpoint, include making the families aware of the process and potential outcome. Experienced attorneys, proficient in handling wrongful death claims, will diligently keep the family apprised of the progression of the case, help manage expectations, and clearly explain the process as it unfolds.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The individual who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit is left up to the probate court. An application is filed with the probate court after the decedent’s death, seeking an appointment as the fiduciary of the estate of a deceased person. The fiduciary is either someone who is named in the will, if the individual did have a will, and if not, most often a family member who applies to be the fiduciary of the estate. The fiduciary of the estate then has the ability to hire a lawyer on behalf of the estate, and pursue a wrongful death claim.

Misconceptions About Wrongful Death Cases

  1. The person bringing the action is solely looking for monetary compensation. More often than not, the parties or family members that are bringing these claims are looking for answers. They are looking for accountability. They are looking to make changes in the way people conduct themselves, or facilities conduct themselves, or the way that individuals are being treated. Often, they have a sense that somebody did something wrong or that an event occurred as a result of someone’s negligence or failure to act.
  2. The generalization that when hiring a law firm to pursue a catastrophic loss or wrongful death claim, the outcome will likely be the same from firm to firm. It may be thought that a wrongful death claim has a certain value, and that going to one lawyer or another is an interchangeable experience. There are several considerations when hiring an attorney in a wrongful death claim and results may vary from firm to firm based upon the experience, talent, and persistence of the principal attorney pursuing the case on your behalf. There is much more at stake for most families than monetary compensation. Answers, explanations, and accountability most often remain of primary concern.

Can a Wrongful Death Claim be Handled Without an Attorney?

There is not a legal requirement that a claimant have an attorney. The question of whether a lawyer is necessary is secondary to the overriding question of whether a lawyer provides value. In our experience, a pro se party, which is a party representing themselves, is a risky and dangerous approach. The courts are not in a position to give legal guidance to an unrepresented party. Experienced legal guidance is of the utmost importance here.

Courts, and the tort system in general, are a rule-driven infrastructure. It is similar to driving on the highway. If you do not know the rules, you are going to cause an accident, you will get lost, and you are going to be confused. Oftentimes the probate court will advise parties to seek a legal representative. They cannot give them legal advice. They very often identify situations where they believe the fiduciary needs legal assistance and direction. Obtaining capable legal representation is the recommended method to handle these matters.

Want to learn more about wrongful death cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut? I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: https://mailchi.mp/c0a77d196567/book-download

Life Altering Injuries in CT

What is a Life Altering Injury?

A life altering injury is a permanent injury which substantially interferes with one’s daily life. Generally, catastrophic injuries are defined as injuries that result in long-term medical problems, permanent disability, shortened life expectancy, and anything that is life changing for the individual who has been injured. It often goes beyond what you might envision as a catastrophic injury, such as loss of limb, brain injury, or life. Analysis is expended in determining exactly how an injury does alter an individual client’s life, because it is different for everybody. The client’s ability to earn, conduct life activities and normal routines, and how they comfort themselves and live their lives can be greatly affected in varying degrees. These are important factors in every case.

Life Altering Injuries in the Context of CT Law

Life altering injuries are not specifically defined by Connecticut statute. However, the law that we rely on in instructing juries is somewhat helpful. Financial recovery is allowed for any complete or partial loss of any type of bodily function. You can think about the functions that the body parts serve, such as walking, bending, lifting, sitting, reaching, using your hands, or thinking. This can also include any of the five senses, whether it is hearing, seeing, or someone’s emotional state. All these things can be injured, and can be considered life altering in many ways.

There is the resulting loss of income in many cases—a loss of career or livelihood. As well as punitive losses, both past and present. Further, there is the non-economic aspect of the loss of enjoyment of one’s life. If one is limited or restricted, not just in what they earn but how they live their life or how they enjoy their life, these elements become items of damages that are considered to be compensable. Thus, the definition of life altering injury can be quite varied. Everyone’s definition is going to be different, as every situation and case has wide variations and distinctions.

Accidents That May be Considered Life Altering

As the term “personal injury” is very broad, it’s important to note that there can be many different situations and circumstances that may inflict a serious injury onto an innocent individual. The accidents can result from incidents that happen on the highway, in public places, and that often happen in the workplace.

Some common causes of physical injuries may include (but are not limited to):

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Defective products
  • Dog and animal bites
  • Lead poisoning and asbestos
  • Medical malpractice cases
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Premises liability
  • Slip and fall
  • Wrongful Death
  • Workplace Accidents

There really is no simple classification of what a life altering injury is. It does not matter whether it happens at work, at home, while you are engaged in some recreational activity, or at a social event. Generally, accidents occur as a result of someone’s negligence or carelessness. Construction accidents, things that occur as a result of medical negligence, or injuries that occur as a result of the manufacturing, production, or design of a defective product. Negligence can involve machinery and all types of equipment on the job. It can also involve motor vehicles, trucks, and tractor trailers. We encounter premises cases with defective premises for all sorts of reasons arising out of negligent maintenance or construction.

Want to learn more about life altering injuries and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut? I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: https://mailchi.mp/c0a77d196567/book-download