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