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Hartford drunk driving accident lawyerIn all states, it is illegal to drive or operate a vehicle when you are intoxicated or your blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08. Unfortunately, that does not mean that everyone refrains from doing so. According to the Connecticut Judicial Branch, there were around 8,390 DUI cases that were recorded in the state in 2018. It is well known that driving while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and puts both you and everyone else on the road at risk. Alcohol-related car accidents can result in serious injuries to others and damage to their property. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you have options for obtaining compensation. These include:

Suing the Driver

The first thing you could do is to attempt to obtain compensation from the driver or the person who caused the accident. In Connecticut, you can demonstrate fault for an accident by showing that the driver was acting negligently when the collisions occurred. If a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, this is usually sufficient to prove negligence.

Suing the Establishment

Another option for receiving compensation is to pursue a claim under the Connecticut Dram Shop Act. This is a law that allows a victim of a drunk driver to hold the establishment from which the alcohol was sold responsible for the accident. To pursue a claim under the Dram Shop Act, you must be able to prove that the establishment sold alcohol to the driver when he or she was already intoxicated and that the intoxication of the driver was the proximate cause of the accident in which you were injured.

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questions, Hartford personal injury attorneyWhen a driver causes an accident because he or she was talking or texting on his or her cell phone, he or she is not likely to admit the truth to the police officer on the scene. Instead, it is often left to investigators and others working on behalf of the injured victim to prove that the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the crash. Recent procedural changes in Connecticut, however, have made it easier for claimants to address distracted driving concerns following an accident.

New Interrogatory Questions

Beginning on January 1, 2017, the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut amended the standard questionnaire—known as interrogatories—that injured victims send to defendants (and vice versa) during the discovery phase of car accident cases. For the first time, both parties in such a case must answer under oath prior to trial whether they “were using a cell phone for any activity including, but not limited to, calling, texting, e-mailing, posting, tweeting, or visiting sites on the Internet for any purpose, at or immediately prior to the time of the incident.”

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event data recorder, Connecticut personal injury lawyerIn the past, personal injury trials arising from car accidents involved a judge or jury trying to determine fault and responsibility by sifting through conflicting testimony from the drivers and any expert witnesses they hired to support their claims. On occasion, a witness to the accident, debris and skid marks, or other objective evidence was available to provide some support to one driver’s version of events or the other. But where objective evidence was nonexistent, a verdict depended mostly on which driver’s story seemed more credible.

Many cars are now equipped with EDR devices, or event data recorders. Some refer to these devices as “black boxes” for cars, as they take and record several different measurements in the moments before a crash. Specialists with the education and knowledge to read and interpret this data (sometimes referred to as reconstructionists) can then provide information regarding a car’s speed, movements, and activities – literally recreating the moments leading up to the crash. This data can provide much needed certainty and clarity regarding causation and any comparative fault in auto injury cases.

What Information is Contained in a Car’s EDR?

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underinsured motorist claims, Connecticut car accident lawyerAlthough Connecticut law requires drivers to carry some minimum amount of car insurance, oftentimes those policies do not pay for the full cost of an individual's damages. Connecticut law only requires a motorist to carry $20,000 of coverage per injured person and $40,000 of per accident. In cases where the responsible driver’s insurance is not enough, drivers injured in a traffic accident have another option: they can file a claim against their own insurance carrier provider based on their underinsured motorist coverage, however, there are special doctrines surrounding those claims in Connecticut. The Connecticut Supreme Court recently clarified one of those doctrines in a case relating to a fatal traffic accident, Guarino v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance.

How Underinsured Motorist Claims Work In general, damages in traffic accident lawsuits are paid for by the insurance carrier of the person at fault. When those payments are not enough to cover the damages, injured victims can make an insurance claim with their own carrier, up to the limits of their own policy, but only after they have received the full amount payable under the at fault party's insurance. However under Connecticut law, in some cases, the injured party may not receive the full amount of their policy. Instead, they can only receive the difference between what the defendant paid and the amount necessary to cover their damages. For example, suppose a person with a $100,000 underinsured motorist policy gets into an accident with someone who only has $60,000 of insurance coverage. And suppose the accident results in the victim suffering medical costs and other damages of $160,000. If the defendant's insurance carrier pays the full $60,000 allowed by the coverage, then the victim can make a claim against their own insurance for the remaining medical expenses and damages incurred. However, the plaintiff will not be able to obtain the full $100,000 allowed by the policy because they already received $60,000 from the defendant's Insurance carrier . Consequently, the most that they can receive from their own insurance is $40,000 (which is their $100,000 limit minus the $60,000 already paid by the defendant).

The Guarino Case

The Guarino case deals with defining what actually counts as receiving payment from the defendant. Guarino had an underinsured motorist policy with a $100,000 limit, and had received two settlement payments from two defendants totaling $245,000. Guarino's estate argued that the $245,000 in payments should not offset the $100,000 under his policy because the payments were made as settlements, rather than after a court found the other drivers at fault. The Connecticut Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held that a payment made by a defendant in order to have a plaintiff release a legal claim should offset the plaintiff's underinsured motorist policy limits. The Court also upheld a previous doctrine that stated that the amount of reduction in the plaintiff's policy limit was the sum of all payments made by all defendants.

Underinsured motorist claims are just one of many options that people involved in traffic accidents have for pursuing full, fair compensation for their injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car accident, contact a skilled Hartford, CT traffic accident lawyer at Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Call 860-290-8690 to schedule a consultation.

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Posted by on in Personal Injury

Connecticut car accident, Hartford personal injury lawyerTraffic accidents can be confusing and stressful. Accidents impose many tangible costs on those involved, such as medical bills and repair costs. Additionally, they require the parties to the accident to deal with legal structures with which they may not be familiar, such as giving statements to the police and entering into settlement negotiations with insurance companies. However, there are over 100,000 traffic accidents in Connecticut every year, according to a report by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, so it is important for people to know what to avoid saying after a traffic accident in the event that a wreck takes place.

Talking to Police

Immediately after the accident the police will likely seek statements from both of the parties to the accidents as well as possible witnesses nearby. People involved in an accident need to know what to avoid saying when asked for this statement. One of the most important things to avoid is lying. Statements to the police are only one of many pieces of evidence available. If other evidence contradicts a false statement to the police, then that can damage the plaintiff's credibility with the court.

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