Connecticut Car Accident Laws & Resources
From Bridgeport to Stamford to New London, you have thousands of miles of roads to explore in Connecticut. You can see downtown Hartford, Lake Waramaug and even the many historic sites of the Revolutionary War. The roads of the Constitution State are used by approximately three million drivers each day, with each driving approximately 10,000 miles per year. In all of that driving, there are many serious accidents in this state. Whether you live or visit this state, it is important to have enough auto insurance in case you are in an accident, and to understand the driving rules and regulations here. Also, you should understand the legal aspects of getting in an accident in Connecticut if you are ever involved in a personal injury claim.
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Statistics and Notable Car Accident Lawsuits
Statistics show that car accident deaths increased in Connecticut by 14% in 2015 from the year before. In total that year, there were 283 car accident deaths, compared to 249 the year before and 276 in the year before that.
In 2017, data reported in the media indicated there was an increase in Connecticut highway deaths. As of May 18, 2017, the number of people who died on state roads was 87 in 2015 and 80 in 2014. The number of deaths on highways in the state in 2016 was 311, which was the highest since 2012.
Experts say the general rise in traffic fatalities in the state in the past several years has several causes. First, more people are driving because gas prices are lower than several years ago. Gas prices are well under what they were in 2015, so more people are driving and for longer. This will always lead to more deaths.
That said, data also shows that driver error is on the rise. Speeding and distracted driving are more often cited today for many car accidents. The greater number of driver error deaths has led some lawmakers in the state assembly to put more focus on pushing distracted driver laws. It is important for all drivers here to remember that texting and driving is illegal in this state. The fine for distracted driving is now from $150 to $500.
A recent personal injury lawsuit that received a high level of press was regarding a couple who was killed on the Merritt Parkway in Hartford in 2007 after a tree hit their Volvo. Their estate is about to receive a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit settlement. The lawsuit documents stated that Dr. Joseph Stavola and his wife were driving their Volvo on the highway when a 70-foot tree fell and struck their vehicle. Their children were in the back seat and survived the crash.
After 10 years of claims and various court cases, the settlement was finally reached. The deaths happened on state property so that was part of the reason the case took so long.
The case was settled after a 9-0 vote by the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee for the couple’s estate.
Sadly, this type of deadly accident is not unusual on this road. In March 2018, another driver was killed when a tree fell on their small car on Merritt Parkway. The man named Jonathan Rodriguez Melendez from Hawthorne NJ was killed when the large tree fell on his Mini Cooper on the road. His passenger suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Connecticut
The laws of Connecticut require you to carry a certain amount of auto insurance. If you do not do so, you can incur serious penalties that include jail time and fines. It is important to know that Connecticut recently repealed its no fault law. Under the current tort system, you can be held liable for damages in an accident, including actual damages, economic damages and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
The minimum amount of auto insurance require in this state is:
- $20,000 in bodily injury coverage per person for each accident
- $40,000 in bodily injury coverage for each person for each accident
- $10,000 in property damage coverage for each accident
- $20,000 and $40,000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
This state does not require you to have any more coverage including personal liability, comprehensive or collision. But you should consider having additional coverage to supplement the above coverage if you have substantial assets. You can be sued in this state if you cause an accident that leads to serious personal injury for another party.leverage to have during the negotiation phase.
Two years goes by quickly after a car accident. We’ve heard countless stories of people who waited too long to file their claim. It left them unprotected, they couldn’t reach a settlement and lost their legal rights. Try not to let that happen to you.
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Connecticut Car Accident Settlement Calculator:
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Connecticut Accident Settlement Taxes
In Connecticut, most of the compensation you get in a personal injury settlement is free from state income tax. As long as your tort is based upon personal, physical injury, not a legal injury such as discrimination or reputational injury, most funds are sheltered from the taxman. This includes medical costs and pain and suffering. Regarding this, the IRS states that if you receive a personal injury settlement for physical injuries and you did not opt for an itemized deduction for medical expenses associated with the injury the year before, the full amount is not subject to tax.
However, in Connecticut, some aspects of a personal injury settlement could be taxable in these cases:
- Lost earnings: If you obtain damages for your lost wages, then that part of your settlement is taxable because it is a replacement for income that would have been taxed.
- Pain and suffering pertaining to wrongful death: If you get damages for pain and suffering in a wrongful death claim, that portion is taxable.
- Emotional injury: If the settlement is for an emotional injury, the settlement can be taxed.
- Punitive damages: This is awarded to the victim to punish the person who did wrong. This type of damages do not reimburse you for actual damage or harm. It is extra income to you and is taxable.
Confidential settlement: If you get a confidential settlement, it may be subject to taxes at the state and federal levels; check with your CPA.
Negligence Laws in Connecticut
The person who was negligent is liable for your accident injuries and to pay for damages. However, know this state has a modified comparative negligence standard that assigns fault. If you are partially responsible for the accident, your financial damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. However, you only can recover damages if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident.
For example, if you have $10,000 in accident damage injuries and were 40% responsible for the crash, you only will recover $6000. But if you were 60% responsible, you would be barred from recovering anything.
Because of the nature of the negligence law in this state, it is important to locate a highly skilled personal injury attorney to represent you in Connecticut. It is not uncommon for people with serious personal injuries in Connecticut car accidents to discover that they are being blamed for more than 50% of the crash. If that is the case, you may not be able to recover damages. Thus, it is important to have a strong personal injury attorney who can argue aggressively on your behalf. Lawsuit Info Center can be very helpful to locate a skilled attorney to assist you.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Connecticut
According to state law, you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim in Connecticut. State law states you must file the claim within two years of the date of the accident. Also, you have two years from the date of death of the person to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Other Connecticut Driving and Accident Laws
There are several new driving-related laws in Connecticut you should be aware of if you are driving in this state:
- Texting while driving has been completely banned in this state for all drivers.
- The use of cell phones while driving has been banned for new drivers. However, there is an exception when you are communicating with law enforcement or in some type of emergency.
- As of 2013, anyone who has been convicted of distracted driving will get a one-point penalty on their driving record. Fines have also been increased.
- Drivers who are convicted for going 75 MPH in a work zone must attend a driver retraining program at their expense. Two points are added to their driving record and fines are higher for being convicted of traffic violations in work zones.
- Driver education information in the classroom must include safety information for driving in construction zones.
Drivers in Connecticut should be aware that state and local police in recent years have been focusing heavily on reducing the number of distracted driving accidents in the state. Officers around the state often focus enforcement actions on highly traveled urban corridors and may post spotters in undercover vehicles to catch people texting and driving. It is common for them to especially focus on morning and afternoon commuting times.
Punitive damages can be awarded in Connecticut when the behavior of the person who caused the accident was malicious or willful. But punitive damages in this state cannot be more than the cost of litigation. It is unusual for punitive damages to be awarded in car accident cases in this state, but they can be justified in cases such as where an extremely drunk driver causes you serious injuries in a car accident.
Connecticut Car Accident Resources
If you have been in a car accident in Connecticut, you probably have a lot of questions and stress right now. Below are some resources to review to help you as you consider next steps.
- For anyone who has been in a car accident in Connecticut that is more than a fender bender, you probably have plenty of medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. If have thought about a personal injury claim, Lawsuit Info Center can help you. This is a comprehensive and free website is a useful resource that assists injured drivers and passengers to find a good personal injury attorney in their area. The website also is useful to get a ballpark concept of what a personal injury claim could be worth.
- If you were in a car accident in Connecticut, know that you must report the accident if anyone has been injured or killed, or if any amount of property damage occurred.
- If you need to get a copy of a police report for an accident in Hartford, you can get a copy of it at the police website.
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