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Every year, hundreds of auto accidents and traffic fatalities occur in Connecticut. Two counties, New Haven County and Hartford County, account for nearly half of the state’s total traffic fatalities. The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes per year in Connecticut typically amounts to 400 or more (i). Auto accidents can cause severe personal injury and/or property damage. The resulting financial difficulties due to lost wages and medical bills following a traffic accident can be overwhelming.
Connecticut state law requires that all registered motor vehicles have liability insurance. Individuals cannot drive a motor vehicle without liability insurance. Insurance must be current at all times when there is an active registration entitling the vehicle to be operated on public highways.
Bodily Injury to Others
Every insured automobile in Connecticut is required by law to have a minimum coverage of $20,000/$40,000. This means the insurance company will pay up to $20,000 to each injured person, but no more than $40,000 total for each accident. This coverage is for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, scarring and for loss of consortium.
Connecticut also requires drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which will pay for medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, etc. to anyone injured from an un- or underinsured driver. Uninsured/underinsured coverage provides $20,000 of coverage to each injured person and $40,000 total for each accident. Uninsured/underinsured insurance also provides coverage in the case of a hit-and-run driver.
Other optional coverage in Connecticut is Medical Payments. Medical Payments covers medical, dental, hospitalization, and other treatment expenses. Medical Payments will also cover the policyholder and other family members if they are injured in another car, or if they are injured while biking or walking.
Property Damage Laws
Property damage is the damage done to your vehicle in an auto accident. The types of coverage that will pay for damage to your vehicle include: collision, comprehensive, and in some cases, depending upon the company and the policy, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. When your car is damaged in an accident and you have coverage, your insurance company will either pay for the repairs or estimate your car’s value in relation to the cost of its repair and may, in some instances, “total” your vehicle. Under Connecticut law, you have the right to choose whatever repair facility you would like. You are not required to take your car to an insurance claims center or other insurance company facility. Typically, it will be in your best interest to choose an independent repair facility that will be looking out for you rather than being conflicted by some obligation to an insurance company. Following an accident, if the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its value, or depending on your policy, the repair cost will exceed 80% of your vehicle’s value; your vehicle is considered totaled. Insurance companies possess the authority to determine and declare whether a vehicle is totaled or not.
Property damage will be paid by the insurance company of whichever driver was at fault. If it is determined that you were the driver at fault, you will be held responsible for repairing your own vehicle, as well as any other vehicle that you damaged. Provided that you have insurance, your insurance company will pay for the damages to the other vehicle up to your policy limits. If your policy has “collision coverage,” you will also be covered for repairs to your vehicle up to the amount of your coverage. Your deductible will likely be $500 or $1,000. If you have full collision coverage, you should not have to pay more than your deductible. In accidents where another driver was at fault, that person’s insurance company (if they are insured) should pay for the cost of repairs, and you should not have to pay anything. You may also be entitled to compensation for the loss of use of your vehicle. This means you may be entitled to compensation to use a comparable rental vehicle or reasonable compensation for the loss of your own vehicle if you opted not to get a rental. “Reasonable compensation” is interpreted as the amount you would have had to spend on a rental car for the period of time necessary to settle your auto accident claim or have your vehicle repaired.