If you suffer severe injuries as a car accident victim, you may be overwhelmed by mounting medical bills. Your inability to return to work for some time may further jeopardize your financial stability. Although you likely know that you are entitled to pursue a personal injury claim in a civil court, you might have some questions about the workings of the tort system and personal injury laws in Connecticut.
Negligence is the basis for personal injury claims. It is the duty of all drivers to exercise a reasonable level of care whenever they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. If another driver breaches that duty and causes an accident that leads to you suffering injuries, you can pursue recovery of your losses.
Frequently asked questions about personal injury claims
The aftermath of a car accident can be an incredibly challenging time for you, both physically and financially. Below are answers to some of the many questions that you may have during this period:
- I have filed a lawsuit, so what happens now? — The person you accuse of causing your injuries will become the defendant, and you will be the plaintiff. The first process is called discovery and involves each side’s lawyer — including a lawyer for the insurer — gathering the relevant facts through interrogatories (written questions), depositions (question and answer sessions under oath) and through exchanging documents.
- Do all personal injury actions go to trial? — The answer to this question is no. In fact, a large percentage of such lawsuits are settled after the discovery process without the need for a trial.
- What does settling a case involve? — It means that you accept the amount of money offered by the insurance company or the defendant, and you agree to pursue no further action against that party. In fact, you will have to sign a document to absolve that person of further liability.
- How will I know whether I should settle? — Your legal counsel can assess whether your claim is likely to succeed and also what level of damage recovery is realistic for your particular circumstances. You can agree to settle at any stage of the proceedings.
- What happens if I don’t settle? — Once you establish negligence before the court, the court may award damages, which is a monetary amount to compensate you for losses. However, the court will first adjudicate your list of documented claims and may reject some of them.
- What are typical claims for damages? — Financial losses such as medical expenses, lost income and also compensation for future wage losses can form part of your documented claims. Also, you can seek compensation for pain and suffering, disability, physical disfigurement and loss of life enjoyment brought about by your injuries.
If you are considering such steps after suffering injuries in a car crash, you may also want to learn more about the statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits in Connecticut. This governs the time limit within which you can file a lawsuit, and missing that deadline may prevent you from seeking recovery of damages.