Factors that can Lead a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case to Litigation

Reasons for Litigation

For a variety of reasons, it is a common outcome for personal injury and wrongful death cases to end up in litigation. Often, this is to learn more about what happened and to secure evidence that the lawyer or client does not have in their possession. It can sometimes take instituting a lawsuit for such evidence to arise. In the absence of subpoena powers and the ability to conduct depositions and discovery, you often will not have a full picture of what happened. Not having all of the evidence bears tremendously on liability issues in the absence of the litigation process, which can be unpleasant and lengthy.

Without this process, it’s just too easy for an insurance company or the person in the position of decision-making authority to say “No, we don’t think we are at fault,” or “We are not going to pay that much.” You can only attempt to discuss what would be a just resolution for your case and what would be an appropriate valuation of the case outside of the court process. It is easy for a business decision maker (oftentimes an insurance adjuster) to try to save money for their client. If the insurance company is going to offer anything, it is ultimately left to the injured party to value the case.

Roles of Insurance Companies

Insurance companies typically have a value called an insurance reserve, which holds for both life altering injuries and death cases. They will put a value on a case that they do not share with you or your lawyer. They assess a case, and then modify the assessment until a case is settled. One of the goals of the litigation process is to have them increase the assessment in the reserve. That initial figure – whether you negotiate, attend a pretrial settlement conference or attend mediation later on – will be at the forefront of the authority that the insurance company’s lawyer is going to have.

Why Qualified Representation is Important

If a lawyer underworked a case by failing to employ the right resources, collect certain evidence, or take certain depositions, then they have failed to take the necessary steps to properly work the case. A failure to take those steps could have a strong impact on the offer they receive in a case. When underprepared, attorneys could be “playing against the reserve.” The defense decision-makers are going to try to save the insurance company money – this is a reality of the system. If you are pro se (self-represented), or if you have an under-skilled or inexperienced lawyer, you can lose money on the case. It is about properly identifying issues and mapping out a course, both of which should begin at the intake interview. Even though it might result in a lawsuit being filed down the road, the process is and should be started very early.

 

To learn more about navigating the factors that can lead to litigation in a personal injury or wrongful death case, as well as other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book PDF

Injury and Wrongful Death Case Valuation in CT

HOW IS A CATASTROPHIC INJURY OR WRONGFUL DEATH CASE VALUED IN CONNECTICUT?

When dealing with a life altering case, valuing all compensable damages is a traditional starting point. Compensable damages generally include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future medical expenses
  • Future impact to an individual’s earning capacity

Navigating injured parties through the process is a vital responsibility of the attorney. As a result of this involvement, attorneys develop the issues of compensable damages, with the end result being to properly and sufficiently monetize the case for the catastrophically injured individual.

How Long Does a Life Altering Injury Claim Take to Settle?

There are many variables to consider when determining how long it will take for a life altering injury claim to settle. The length of time is often dictated by the time it takes for the injured party to complete medical treatment. If the individual is deceased, then it will depend on the length of time necessary to collect, evaluate, and properly address all the issues to formulate the damages profile.

The length of a claim can also depend on the docket or the court. The courts dictate how long these things take when a case is in suit. Most cases will settle or go to trial no earlier than 18 months and could take many years. Though the range is wide, one and a half to three years is the general timeframe for most cases.

Possible Outcomes for Life Altering Injury Cases

The American Bar Association and their subcommittees have conducted studies on life altering injury cases, and there are various trial lawyers associations that track injury cases (some of which go to trial, and some of which end up settling). For over a decade, there has been a seeming trend away from trials. This is happening for a variety of reasons. Cases are diverted to settlement measures – such as arbitration or mediation – to bring about a resolution of the case. The cases that go to trial are the ones that cannot be resolved, despite all early discussions and court intervention. These are cases where the parties’ positions are just too far apart, and it is the only way to resolve the dispute.  There are many instances in highly disputed cases where the advocates on each side of the controversy will see the case quite differently. As the case litigation proceeds and as the issues become clearer, there is usually an opportunity to explore an agreement. The fact is that most people would rather make their own decisions about settlement than have a judge or jury do it for them.

The uncertainty of what a judge or a jury may do with a dispute also supports the general inclination of most individuals and companies to sort out their own business relations, where they can achieve what they believe to be a reasonable result. These factors working together often determine the probability of going to trial.

It is estimated that less than 10 percent of cases go to trial. However, if you do not prepare a case – whether straightforward or complex – with sufficient care and energy, and if the attorney that you retain does not convey the complete intent to go trial on your behalf, then the odds of going to trial increase. The parties must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. By preparing to go to trial, you are reducing the chances that you will have to.

Please follow the link for access to a free pdf download of our full book to learn more about:

  • How do I know when it is the right time to settle?
  • How do I know if an injury claim offer from an insurance company is fair?
  • What happens if a catastrophic injury victim dies after filing a personal injury lawsuit?

Life Altering Personal Injury Cases in Connecticut: Free PDF

What Happens If You’re Unable to Work after an Injury?

The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act & Expert Help

The reality of dealing with a serious injury can have emotional, physical, and financial repercussions. If you are unable to work after an injury, there may be a variety of job-retraining and career-counseling programs available. Under the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act, there is job retraining that remains accessible to the injured worker for their entire lifetime, regardless of whether or not they resolve their case. You also can seek guidance by working with vocational and job training experts who can make suggestions about certain positions for which you may be suitable. Vocational experts help assess the resulting needs of the injured party. Economic experts calculate the vocational expertise and make projections regarding what a person will be capable of doing. Financial experts can help forecast what someone’s financial future looks like, and what their needs are going to be. Economic and noneconomic evaluations are essential to include in a case analysis and validation.

In addition to vocational and economic experts, working with a network of life planners and nurse case managers to help analyze medical records and doctor’s instructions can be essential. Working closely with life care planners, nurse case managers, vocational experts, and financial experts is fundamental to properly developing the case. These steps are necessary to calculate lost earning capacity and to help guide and advise an injured party who is unable to work.

Government Assistance

When a person has been injured, the whole family structure must be taken into consideration. If the injured party is the sole provider for a family, then sources of income sufficient for a continuance of financial support will need to be identified.  The problems differ in terms of magnitude and the immediacy of the need. The availability of family resources should also be considered. There are governmental programs that may come into play, such as social security disability, Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid is a federally-subsidized state program that provides welfare benefits, food stamps, and medical care in instances where a family or person does not qualify for social security disability or Medicare. Unfortunately, there are instances where none of those programs are going to be immediately available or adequate.

It should also be noted that arrangements can be made to assist with transportation while property damage claims or auto accident claims are dealt with. For example, services such as Meals on Wheels and various social services programs may be available for a person in need.

To learn more about available resources if you are unable to work after an injury and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our free pocket guide!

Personal Injury Case vs. Workers’ Compensation Case

PERSONAL INJURY CASE VS. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE

It is important to understand the fundamental basis for personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims in order to distinguish between the two. The most important difference is that a personal injury claim is based on the fault of one party, whereas a workers’ compensation case does not require a finding of fault. In order to recover damages against someone in a personal injury case such as a car accident, a slip and fall, a medical mistake, or any type of negligence action, a party must be at fault. For workers’ compensation, the claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault. For example, if someone stumbles in the hallway at work and breaks their leg, no one is at fault for the fall. However, since it occurred in the course of that person’s employment, it will be covered as a workers’ compensation claim.

Personal Injury Claims

A personal injury claim is the result of someone’s negligent act, and these claims are governed by the principles of tort law. A standard of care is necessary for almost every instance. Once the established standard of care has been breached and harm results, a personal injury claim may arise. Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act states that the employer remains responsible for any injury or harms that occur in the course of someone’s employment, regardless of fault.

A personal injury claim is governed in large part by what we refer to as common law. Typically, common law is a duty that society, through the process of life experience and courts entertaining different kinds of controversies over the years, establishes what is considered reasonable conduct. Most unreasonable or negligent conduct can give rise to a breach of a duty of care that a court will acknowledge, recognize, and enforce. This is true whether someone is driving inappropriately, failing to maintain their property, engaging in certain types of conduct, or failing to engage in conduct that is appropriate under the circumstances.

A personal injury case is a claim for monetary damages and is prompted by a breach of a duty of care that was owed to the injured party. It is different from a workers’ compensation claim in the sense that a workers’ compensation claim is regulated by statute, and there does not need to be a violation of a duty of care or negligence.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to accomplish several things. A workers’ compensation claim is intended to provide immediate support, medical, and wage indemnity for an injured worker. A personal injury claim generally usually involves getting the compensation at the end of the process, whether it is one or several years later. The injured party is not going to have any immediate financial compensation, where a workers’ compensation claim can provide this in the meantime.

How Is My Claim Handled if I Sustain an Injury at Work and I also have a Claim for Negligence?

It is often the case that individuals who have been hurt at work also have a separate personal injury claim arising from the same accident. This is known as a third-party claim, because an additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker’s accident. The workers’ compensation claim is obvious, but being aware of a third-party claim may not be so obvious to the injured worker. They may have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, or perhaps they fell in someone’s broken stairwell while making a work-related delivery. A workers’ compensation claim may be very valuable in its own right, but there may be good reason to pursue a separate personal injury claim.

There are damages that can be compensated in a third-party personal injury case that are otherwise not compensable in a workers’ compensation claim. Having both claims pursued together will provide you with the proper level of protection. For instance, if you have a partial loss of earning capacity, then you are going to be limited in your workers’ compensation claim to getting a completely full recompense for that loss. However, you may be able to obtain the necessary compensation through a third-party personal injury claim.

There are restrictions on the amount of partial loss earning capacity that you will be paid for under the workers’ compensation rules. Certain damages, such as pain and suffering (or in some cases, scarring) can be compensated in a third-party case but not in a workers’ compensation claim.

It is often necessary that an injured worker retain a law firm that can handle both the workers’ compensation case and the companion third-party personal injury case, should there be one. In this way, they will have a concerted effort working to coordinate the best possible outcome in each potential claim.

In Summary:

  • Personal Injury Claim
    • Based on the fault of one party
    • Result of someone’s negligent act
  • Workers’ Compensation Case
    • Does not require a finding of fault
    • The claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault
  • Third-Party Claim
    • Additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker’s accident
    • Workers’ compensation and also another separate claim personal injury claim arising from the same accident.

To learn more about workers’ compensation 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: Book Download

Workers’ Compensation Cases in CT

Worker’s Compensation Cases

Working men and women are the backbone of Connecticut’s economy. Connecticut boasts a diverse workforce that makes it the place we love to call home. Our State cannot survive without its hardworking citizens; the law recognizes this.  When a worker is hurt on the job; paying compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disability are the responsibility of the employer, as stipulated by Connecticut law. You do not have to “sue” your employer. Injured workers are entitled to be on equal footing with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.  You are entitled to be represented by your own attorney, who will work hard to make sure that your benefits are paid properly and timely, and that pitfalls are avoided.

 What Is “Workers’ Compensation”?

Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act has been the law for almost a century.  It recognizes your value to the state economy, your town, and your family. The law protects all people who have been hurt while working, either from a sudden event, an injury that comes from repetitive actions, or an illness caused by the work you do.

Your employer must;

  • cover all related medical costs.
  • Pay a good portion of your lost wages (using the statutory formula).
  • Make an additional payment if you suffer a permanent disability.

Unless you hurt the same part of your body again in a new accident, this protection by your employer (through their insurance company) lasts your whole life.  If an injury takes a workers’ life, the law requires that a surviving spouse and/or dependent children receive the workers’ benefits.

Understanding CT’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

Connecticut’s workers’ compensation laws can be complicated.  These laws continue to change.  Rules and procedures that you or your friends may remember from past compensation cases could very well have changed. If you have been hurt on the job and are filing or have already filed a workers’ compensation claim for injury or death, talk with a lawyer before trying to represent yourself.  After a work-related injury, you are left to face mounting medical bills, the prospect of a lengthy recovery, and the fear that you may never be able to return to the same type of work or earning capacity. A death at work overshadows all of these worries with enormous grief.  These are reasons why it is important to seek experienced and competent representation. In a work-related accident, compensation benefits should be available not only for your injury-related medical and surgical bills, but also for physical therapy, medical equipment, mileage to and from your treatment appointments, and any permanent disability (even if you return to work).

Do I Need A Lawyer For My Workers’ Compensation Case?

This is a good question. You might be surprised, but our first answer is not “of course.” Many on-the-job injuries are not serious, are witnessed or reported right away, and result in quick medical care paid for by an employer (or its workers’ compensation insurance company) that acknowledges its legal responsibility without hesitation, question or complaint. While we never shy away from talking to an injured worker who has questions, it is unlikely that the involvement of an attorney would be necessary under these circumstances.

If the injury is more serious, is not witnessed or reported quickly, does not heal quickly, or if medical care is discouraged or not provided when you need it, then you need to call an attorney. You should also be prepared to call an attorney if you do not receive compensation benefits or if you receive a Form 43 denying responsibility for your injury.  An experienced attorney will help make sure you are getting the treatment you need to heal as quickly and completely as possible.  An attorney will also help you receive the compensation benefits you are entitled to under Connecticut law; and help you avoid the pitfalls that can severely limit or even end your entitlement to compensation benefits.

We think the biggest problem with workers’ compensation is that it should be straightforward and simple, but it often is not. It is important to know that the Workers’ Compensation Commission regulates attorney fees in compensation cases.  In almost all instances, the attorney fee is only 20 percent of some of the benefits you may receive. For example, when your employer is making voluntary payments of weekly benefits for temporary total or temporary partial disability, an attorney may not take a fee, no matter how many calls are made to the compensation carrier about late checks. An attorney also may not take a fee from medical benefit payments, no matter how much work is done to get you seen by a doctor or to get a medical bill paid. In fact, a common source of the attorney’s 20 percent fee is the payment made for permanent disability after you have healed.  Since healing usually takes time, the sooner an attorney is working for you, the more he or she will eventually do for the fee being earned. Finally, the commissioners are quickly available to deal with any dispute an injured worker may have with his or her attorney.

I’ve Been Hurt at Work — Now What Do I Do?

If you’ve been hurt at work, the first thing you need to do is report the injury to your supervisor. If you do not report your injury, then it is almost sure to be denied by your employer. You may know you were hurt, and if you do not let too much time go by, you may remember the date and time that you sustained the injury.  However, an employer cannot check and document an unreported injury, and the coworker who you think will back you up was probably not paying as much attention as you think.

You will also want a doctor to examine you, but if you are not on the way to the hospital to be seen in the emergency department, then you may have to start with your employer’s doctor. Many employers use “managed care” programs for workers’ compensation, which are like HMO plans specifically for workers hurt on the job.  As with many HMO plans, your employer’s workers’ compensation medical plan may require you to see a particular doctor before you can be seen by a specialist.  Although you should have a choice of treating doctors, your list of approved choices may be limited (unless you are not on the way to the hospital for an emergency). Even if your family doctor is a part of your health insurance plan, they may not be a part of your employer’s workers’ compensation plan.  By reporting your injury, you can know where to go for your first examination and not have to find out later that your bill will not be paid or that your employer will not pay attention to the opinion of the doctor you decided to see.

In sum;

  • Report the injury to your supervisor immediately.
  • Get examined by a doctor listed under your employers’ workers’ compensation plan.

To learn more about navigating worker’s compensation cases with an attorney and your employer, as well as other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: free download

Slip and Fall Cases in CT

Slip and Fall Cases

Often called “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents, premises liability cases arise when someone is injured on someone else’s property, whether it is public or private. These cases usually derive from a combination of the most basic everyday activities such as walking, and the negligence of a business or property owner.

Falls can occur due to:

  • Untreated snow or ice
  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Cluttered aisles
  • Dangerous merchandise displays
  • Broken or uneven pavement
  • Poorly maintained stairs
  • Bad lighting
  • And more

Falls can lead to serious and catastrophic injuries, expensive surgeries, hospital stays, lengthy physical rehabilitation, permanent disability and even death. Many people are not aware that these can be the most difficult cases to prove. The towns, business owners, property owners and landlords in Connecticut have a legal responsibility to make sure the property under their control is maintained, repaired, and made safe for all those who use it. There are varying standards of care that apply depending on where a fall takes place and what the property owner’s duty is to the person who has been injured.

If you are hurt due to a owner or maintainer’s failure to create or fix a dangerous condition, it is important to know that they can be fully responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, permanent limitations, and the resulting pain and troubles that may be with you for the rest of your life.

The initial investigation is critical in these cases, as photographs, videotapes, surveillance films, and witness statements need to be identified and preserved. Identifying the property owner or owners is of immense importance, as there are certain notice requirements that need to be satisfied.

What Should I Do If I’m Hurt in a Fall?

There are some important steps to take if you have sustained an injury from taking a fall. First, do not rush away from the scene. A person who has tripped and fallen is often embarrassed; they get up, look around to make sure no one has seen them, and then they hurry away. By the time they return to report their injury, the floor has been cleaned or repaired and there are no witnesses to be found.

If you do not rush away from the place where you have fallen, you give yourself the chance to look around and see what caused your fall. Stating that it was “something on the floor” is usually not helpful. You want to know what it is, where it seems to have come from, what color it is, and what the area around you looks like. It can be very helpful to take a picture of the area in which you fell. There is nothing more helpful than a picture to show just where you are and what caused you to trip or slip and fall. If you can’t take a picture, then maybe someone else can.

Try to identify witnesses. We are embarrassed when we fall, and there is often immediate pain to cope with. However, obtaining the names of witnesses who may have seen what occurred can be very helpful to your case. Those who come to help you are usually willing to leave their name, address and phone number. Hurrying away from a store after a fall and reporting it later can cause the store’s insurance carrier to be suspicious that you are making things up. Let the store’s employees know what happened so an investigation can be done.

One very important step is to get medical attention right away. If you do not rush away from the place where you fall, or you at least report the event promptly, then help yourself in the most important way possible. This allows you the best chance of getting quick medical care. Driving yourself to an emergency room with a badly sprained or broken ankle, torn knee ligaments, an excruciating headache, or a dislocated shoulder is difficult and dangerous. If you have any doubts about the extent of your injury or your ability to get to a doctor quickly, it is best to let the store make the arrangements. Ambulance personnel can begin caring for you right away.

Key steps following a slip and fall situation:

  • Do not rush away from the scene
  • Take a picture of the are area in which you fell
  • Identify witnesses
  • Get medical attention right away

To learn more about slip and fall accident 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: Book PDF

Dog Bite Cases in CT

Dog Bite Cases

In Connecticut, people who choose to enjoy the pleasure of having a dog also take on the responsibility of making sure the dog does no harm to people, property, or other pets in the community.  Though most dog owners are conscientious about making sure they follow leash laws and other ethical standards for animal care, some are not so cautious. The good news is that in our state, the law is generally on the side of a dog bite victim. Generally, simply proving that the owner or keeper has responsibility for the dog is enough cause for a case. Though anyone can be attacked by a dog or cat, children and the elderly can be particularly at risk.  A dog or cat bite can lead to shots to prevent rabies, wound infections, expensive surgeries, physical rehabilitation and permanent scarring.

I’ve Been Bitten By A Dog; What Should I Do?

No matter how bad the bite looks, the first thing to do is seek medical attention.  Most of us have no hesitation about being licked by a dog, but if there has been any breaking of the skin – no matter how small – you run the risk of developing an infection, or worse.  Get to an emergency room or a doctor immediately.

Call the animal warden or an animal control officer from your town or city – the number is in the blue pages of your phone book or on the internet. You must make sure that the dog is current on its shots. Rabies is a dreaded disease for good reason.  The animal control officer will help identify the animal and contact the owner and/or keeper and make sure that all shots are current. If there is any risk of rabies, you should talk with a doctor about  treatment without delay.  Over the years, rabies shots have improved and are nowhere near as painful as they once were.  Rabies, however, is as dangerous as ever.  Talk with a doctor about what should be done to protect you.

Who Is Responsible For The Injuries?

In Connecticut, the dog’s owner or keeper is fully responsible for injuries and damages that the animal causes.  Finding the identity of the dog’s owner is usually not difficult, and it is something with which the animal control officer will assist you. Decisions about what it means to be a dog’s “keeper” often have to be made when injuries are sustained on rental properties. It is not uncommon for landlords to be sued for allowing a dog in a tenant’s apartment. In some cases, a landlord may have even been aware that a tenant’s dog was dangerous. The courts have consistently decided that a “keeper” must have responsibility for the dog’s care, maintenance, or control, which includes feeding, watering, exercising, sheltering or otherwise caring for the dog. According to Connecticut’s statute about injuries caused by dogs, if the owner or keeper is a minor, then the child’s parent or guardian is responsible for the dog’s behavior.

 Is It True That The Owner Or Keeper Is Only Responsible For Injuries And Damages If The Dog Has Injured Someone Before?

Connecticut has a statute about injuries caused by dogs, and the owner or keeper is held responsible for all bites, even if the dog has not hurt someone before. Many of the rules that we follow are not statutes, but rather laws that have been with us for centuries and that are often based on principles of commonly accepted behavior and decency. These are part of our “common law.”  According to Connecticut’s statutory law, a domestic animal’s owner or keeper is responsible for injuries that the animal causes, regardless of whether or not that animal has previously hurt someone.  In other words, once the owner or keeper knows his particular animal is dangerous, he has the obligation to take additional measures to be sure the animal never does it again.  If the owner does not take the additional measures, he could be held criminally liable.

To learn more about dog bite accident 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: Book PDF

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