Every state has a different system for determining who was responsible for a car crash. In Connecticut, we have a system called “modified comparative negligence.” But what exactly does that mean, and how does it work? To help explain, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Connecticut’s comparative negligence law.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Connecticut law establishes the state as an “at-fault” state, meaning that someone is almost always considered responsible for the crash. Comparative negligence means that each participant in the crash is assigned a percentage amount of the fault based on their negligence contributed to the crash.
In crashes with two parties, the total fault distributed adds up to a total of 100%. Whoever holds more than 50% of the fault is considered responsible for the crash. Crucially, the at-fault driver cannot recover any damages through a car accident claim to help them repair their vehicle or cover medical bills.
“Modified comparative negligence” means that drivers are penalized in proportion to their amount assigned fault in car accidents. The penalty resulting from modified comparative fault reduces the amount of the potential settlement. To help explain, let’s look at three examples.
- A driver is found 0% at fault for the crash. They are awarded a $100,000 settlement and receive the full amount.
- The same driver is found 25% at fault for the crash. Their $100,000 settlement is garnished by 25%, and they only receive $75,000.
- The driver is found 51% at fault for the crash. They cannot recover damages.
Determining Assigned Fault
Fault assignment can feel subjective. It’s hard to understand how the insurance adjuster decides whether someone was 23% at fault or 26%. Every percentage point matters to the insurance company because it means a smaller settlement under the rules of modified comparative negligence.
The most important thing to know about fault assignment is that it is not permanent. The percentage of assigned fault can quickly shift if drivers aren’t careful what they say and do after a crash.
For example, suppose you were t-boned by a driver who ran a red light. You call the insurance company to report the crash and tell them you didn’t see the other driver coming and you didn’t have time to react. The insurance company may use your words against you to shift your assigned fault, claiming that the crash might have been prevented if you were paying attention.
Preventing Fault Redistribution
When your recovery is on the line, it’s critical that you take the necessary steps to prevent fault redistribution. That means being cautious about what you say and do until your case is resolved. A few ways drivers can avoid redistribution fault include:
Avoid Recorded Statements
After a wreck, the insurance company might ask if you’d be willing to make a statement. If this happens, or if you find out the call is being recorded, be extremely careful about what you say. Recorded statements need precise wording to avoid fault reassignment, which is why it’s best to have an attorney present.
Keep in mind that there is no requirement to make a recorded statement without your attorney. If the insurance company says you are required to make a statement or that they can’t authorize a rental car until you make a statement, contact your attorney immediately.
Be Careful About What You Post on Social Media
As tempting as it is to let friends and family know you’re okay after a crash, you should not post anything about your accident on social media until the case is resolved. Once you post about the wreck on social media, the insurance company may issue a subpoena for access to your entire account, including your private messages.
Say you post about your car crash on social media, and your friend private messages you asking what happened. You say you didn’t see the driver coming. Even though you did not say it directly to the insurance company, they could potentially use those messages to shift your assigned fault.
How Carter Mario Law Firm Fights For Your Recovery
Navigating a car crash is hard enough without worrying about comparative negligence or fault redistribution. For that reason, anyone who has been seriously injured in a car crash should consider hiring an experienced car accident attorney from Carter Mario Law Firm as soon as possible.
An attorney on your side can examine the evidence to help minimize your assigned fault and simultaneously provide the legal advice you need to prevent fault redistribution. Your attorney will handle all the stressors that come with any personal injury lawsuits resulting from a car crash so you can focus on your recovery.
To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Connecticut car accident attorney from Carter Mario Law Firm, please don’t hesitate to call (203) 876-2711 or send us an email.