If you have the misfortune of being involved in an auto accident in Connecticut, don’t make an unfortunate situation worse. Keep a cool head and remember some basic rules:
Never drive away from an accident, even a minor one, without stopping to see whether there are damages or injuries. Connecticut law requires this.
Protect the Scene
Prevent further accidents by warning approaching vehicles. Use a flashlight at night. Set out flares or reflectors if available.
Help Injured Persons
Call the local police on secondary roads or state police on major highways. Report your location accurately. Request an ambulance and medical assistance if there are injured persons. Do not move the injured parties unless there is immediate danger from explosion or fire or traffic.
Even if there are no serious injuries it is best to summon the police. An official police report may be of crucial importance to protect your rights in possible future liability claims. Make sure that the facts on the official police report are accurately reported.
Before the police arrive, carefully examine the damage to all cars. also, ensure that all motor vehicles and other objects at the scene are not moved after the accident. No automobiles or other objects should be moved unless they interfere with traffic.
Obtain Names and Addresses and Record Important Observations
Get the name, address, driver’s license number and home phone number of the other driver; get the name and addresses of all witnesses to the accident. If any persons refuse to provide information jot down their license number. Make a note of the license number, year, make, and color of all vehicles involved in the accident.
If possible, get the name of insurance companies and policy numbers covering other vehicles in the accident. For future reference, write down details of the accident, including date, and time, exact location, road conditions, traffic controls and weather conditions. Draw a rough diagram of the scene which contains the position and direction of vehicles immediately before the collision and where they finally came to rest.
Give the other driver your name, address, home phone number and your driver’s license number. Do not admit fault or offer to settle the matter. Anything you say will be used against you in possible subsequent legal proceedings and may violate the terms of your insurance policy. Do not exchange accusations. There is nothing to be gained by roadside argument.
Report the Accident
Notify your insurance company immediately. Consult your attorney or insurance agent. If you hit a parked car, domestic animal, a deer or other property, notify the owner and / or the local or state police. If you must depart from the scene, leave a note in order to notify the owner.
Protect Your Rights
Refer all persons making claims against you and any legal papers served upon you immediately to your family attorney and your insurance company. Do not attempt to negotiate or settle on your own. If you are injured in an auto collision, consult your physician soon as possible.
There is often a time-lag between the collision and the full extent of physical injuries sustained. Potentially serious injuries which may seem trivial at first can have severe after effects. Consult an attorney for any questions which you have about your right to sue for either persona injury or property damage.
No Fault Insurance Benefits in Connecticut
No fault insurance benefits were repealed by the Connecticut legislature effective January 1, 1994. There are a number of changes under the new law. One is the elimination of the requirement that every driver purchase medical benefits coverage. Under the new law any medical expenses should be submitted by you to your health insurance carrier.
Also under the new law you have the right to be compensated by the fault driver for any monetary loss including pain and suffering, physical injury and property damage.
When to Consult an Attorney
If you are injured in an automobile collision, you should consult an attorney immediately! Even though your injuries may not seem serious at first, they may ultimately be of a serious nature. Delay in contacting an attorney can result in the destruction of valuable evidence and jeopardize your legal rights and remedies.
Most attorneys who deal with personal injury claims will be willing to advise you of your rights and possible legal remedies for a minimum or no charge. If you are in need of an attorney, contact the Lawyer Referral Service or local Bar Association and they will put you in touch with attorneys who deal with personal injury claims.
Renewing Your Automobile Insurance
Prior to renewing your automobile insurance policy, you should consult with your attorney or insurance agent about changes in the underinsured and uninsured portions of your policy.
The simple, so-called “Fender-Bender” may become a real hassle unless you are alert to following these few rules. Be sure to inform your insurance agent and your lawyer immediately, and put the facts on record. These days there is no such thing as a simple auto accident.