The most common mechanism of injury that we handle is a rear-end collision. I can’t provide statistics for the frequency of rear-end collisions, but I would say that it is the most common type of vehicle crash.
The most common myth is that the police investigation is determinative of the outcome of a civil claim. Unless a police officer witnesses the collision, the conclusions in the police report do not necessarily control the outcome of a civil claim. People will call and say, “The police officer said that I was at fault,” but that is not controlling. Police officers have a very difficult job. They come to the scene of a motor vehicle collision in many difficult circumstances, and they do the best that they can, but their conclusion is not determinative. Similarly, if the officer charges the other party with a motor vehicle infraction or violation, that will not determine the outcome of a civil claim unless the other driver pled “guilty” to the charge.
I have been involved in a number of cases where we have actually demonstrated that the police officer was incorrect, and that the summary of statements from witnesses was incorrect, and that the whole report was just garbage.
We screen calls from potential clients to determine if we think a particular scenario will produce a viable civil claim. There are some situations that just are not going to turn out to be viable claims. The rules that apply to liability in Connecticut are called comparative negligence rules. We can always look at your conduct and the conduct of another driver or drivers and make a determination whether there are some relative contributions toward what caused the collision.
As long as the percentage of your responsibility is not greater than fifty percent, you can still make a recovery. If your responsibility is fifty percent, your recovery will be fifty percent of your damages. If your responsibility is twenty-five percent, you will make a recovery of seventy-five percent of your damages; this is how damages are calculated. A long as your percentage of responsibility is not greater than fifty percent, then there may be something that can be done for you. Of course, when your damages are reduced for your own percentage of fault, your case may become economically non-viable.
Connecticut is a “pure tort” state as opposed to a “no-fault” state, which distorts the basic rules of responsibility. In no-fault states, people end up paying a lot more for their automobile insurance coverage because of mandatory no-fault coverage that pays for medical bills and some portion of lost earnings. No-fault states create either financial or verbal thresholds which have to be met in order to make a tort recovery for the kinds of damages that can be recovered, which are largely non-economic damages such as physical pain, emotional suffering, loss of enjoyment of life’s activities, scarring and disfigurement.
Contributory Negligence Rules for Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut
Connecticut has not had contributory negligence since 1973. With contributory negligence, even one percent of negligence on the part of the person injured would be a complete bar to a recovery. So, for example, I was recently talking to a colleague about a case in North Carolina. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state and the complete bar to recovery is very harsh and draconian!
For more information on Common Auto Accident Cases in Connecticut, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (203) 325-8600 today.