Understanding Connecticut's Negligence Laws and How They May Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
Blame is rarely straightforward in Connecticut car accidents. Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us demonstrate at least a degree of negligence at some point. Few drivers can truthfully say they’ve never been guilty of speeding or using their cell phones behind the wheel. When such negligence contributes to car crashes, it can play a significant role in ensuing legal efforts.
Negligence may seem like a straightforward concept, but it can take many forms. We’re not just talking about specific behaviors – although these can certainly influence your case – but rather, how negligence is treated in terms of state law.
Connecticut maintains a system of comparative negligence. If you’re like most residents, you may have no idea what this designation means or how it could influence your personal injury case. This lack of understanding could potentially harm your ability to collect damages.
Read on to learn how this concept could impact your case and your ability to secure compensation.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a critical legal doctrine that determines how plaintiffs should be treated if they are responsible for car accidents and other negligence-related incidents in any way. Under this approach, plaintiffs can be deemed partly at fault.
In the event that the plaintiff is assigned a small share of the blame for the accident in question, his or her damages may be reduced – but not eliminated completely. For example, in a civil driving under the influence (DUI) case, the plaintiff’s speed at the time of the accident could be called into question. Speeding is by no means as egregious a behavior as driving while intoxicated, but it still goes against the rules of the road. Depending on the plaintiff’s speed and the extent to which it contributed to the accident, the final compensation may be reduced. The goal is to take the plaintiff’s misdeeds into account.
Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence
Many states have comparative negligence regulations that are similar to those in Connecticut. In a few states, however, case outcomes are determined by a decidedly different concept: contributory negligence. Under this approach, a plaintiff can potentially be banned from collecting any damages if he or she is at all responsible for the accident. It doesn’t matter if the plaintiff is deemed even one percent at fault; any semblance of negligence could be enough to bring the case to a swift close.
The doctrine of contributory negligence can make it exceedingly difficult for plaintiffs to collect damages. Even a small infraction such as low-level speeding could be deemed negligent, causing the plaintiff to become ineligible for compensation. So, while comparative negligence can prompt frustration at times, many plaintiffs appreciate that it limits the potential for emerging from personal injury proceedings empty-handed.
Connecticut’s System of Modified Comparative Negligence
Approaches to comparative negligence vary slightly from one state to the next. Connecticut utilizes a version known as modified comparative negligence. Under this system, the plaintiff can only recover damages if they are found to be less than 51 percent at fault for the accident and any resulting injuries. Until that point is reached, the plaintiff typically receives proportional damages based on the extent of fault assigned. As soon as the plaintiff is declared 51 percent at fault, he or she becomes ineligible to collect compensation.
Modified comparative negligence differs considerably from pure comparative negligence. Also known as pure comparative fault, this system allows plaintiffs to pursue damages even when they are primarily to blame. Using the example cited above, a pure comparative fault state would enable a plaintiff with a history of driving under the influence to pursue damages related to the defendant’s speeding, even if intoxication played a far greater role in the accident.
Many people regard Connecticut’s system of modified comparative negligence as the most reasonable, as it takes the role of “minor” negligence into account without granting it outsized influence. Unfortunately, this concept can greatly complicate otherwise straightforward cases, as circumstances influenced by comparative negligence may hold significant room for interpretation.
The local approach to comparative negligence is discussed in detail in the Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-572h. Under the rules outlined in the state statutes, plaintiffs are eligible to collect both economic and non-economic damages, assuming they are found under 51 percent at fault.
Section 52-572h also addresses cases in which several parties are to blame. In such situations, those found liable are responsible only for their proportionate share of recoverable economic and non-economic damages.
Injured in a Car Accident? Seek Help from a Trusted Car Accident Attorney serving New Haven, Hartford and all of CT
Effective legal representation means carefully targeting your case based on local legislation. An approach that delivers an impressive outcome in one state could prove disastrous in the next. In Connecticut, for example, modified comparative negligence may call doubt into the wisdom of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, particularly if you believe that you are partially responsible for the accident. A trusted car accident lawyer in Hartford, New Haven, and New London can help you determine which approach is most advisable given local laws and your unique circumstances.
With McCoy & McCoy in your corner, you can feel confident that you will receive personalized support through every step of your car accident case. This begins as soon as you get in touch and continues through the final resolution. Our New Haven and Hartford car accident attorneys can assess the role of fault to determine which approach is most likely to yield a positive outcome. There is no need to navigate confusing CT car accident laws on your own. We’re happy to provide the guidance you need at this difficult time.
The sooner you get in touch with a personal injury attorney in Hartford and New Haven, CT, the better. Call (860) 200-0270 today or reach out online to arrange for a free case evaluation. We look forward to providing the targeted legal support you and your loved ones deserve.