Connecticut Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
If you've been injured in an accident in Connecticut, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.
For people who are thinking about filing (or are already in the middle of) an injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit in Connecticut, it's important to understand the different state laws that may come into play. In this article, we'll spotlight a few key Connecticut personal injury laws.
Time Limits on Connecticut Injury Lawsuits
In every state, for all types of cases that can be heard in the civil court, a law called the statute of limitations governs how much time you have to get your lawsuit filed. In Connecticut, you must get a personal injury lawsuit filed within two years of the date on which you suffered the injury. This deadline is critical to your rights because if you don't get your lawsuit started in court before Connecticut's two-year filing window closes, you'll lose your right to have your case heard.
Time Limit For Claims Against a Government Entity
A city or county must be notified of your intent to sue within six months. The State Claims Commissioner must be notified of a claim against the state within one year. See: Injury Claims Against The Government
Comparative Fault in Connecticut
It’s not unusual to file an insurance claim or court case seeking
compensation for your injuries, only to have the person or company
you’ve filed against claim that you were partly or totally responsible
for the accident that injured you. Connecticut uses a “comparative fault” rule that reduces or eliminates damages in cases where the injured person is found to share some level of blame.
Here’s an example of Connecticut’s modified comparative fault rule in action. Suppose you’re driving a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit when you pass through an intersection. Another driver runs a red light at the intersection and hits your car. Eventually, it’s determined that you were 10 percent at fault, and the other driver was 90 percent at fault.
Under Connecticut’s modified comparative fault rule, the 10 percent of fault assigned to you means your total damages will be reduced by 10 percent. If your damages in the example above were $10,000, this means you would walk away with $9,000, or the $10,000 total minus $1,000. If your portion of the damages were 50 percent or more, however, your damages award would be eliminated entirely, and you will not be allowed to collect from any at-fault party.
Connecticut courts are required to apply the comparative fault rule in injury lawsuits that make it through trial. Insurance adjusters may also choose to bring up the issue of comparative fault during settlement negotiations, so it's best to be prepared.
Connecticut Car Insurance Laws
When it comes to car insurance, Connecticut is a “fault” state. This means that people who are injured in Connecticut car accidents have several options if they want to pursue compensation -- file an insurance claim under their own auto insurance coverage, pursue a claim through the other driver's insurance carrier, or file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Connecticut however, a specific statute (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-357) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
“If any dog does any damage to either the body or property of any person,” [the dog owner] “shall be liable for such damage, except when such damage has been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog.”
Connecticut Damage Caps in Injury Cases
Damages in personal injury law are
sometimes capped, or limited, by state law. Each state has its own
rules about what types of injury cases -- or what types of harm -- are
subject to caps.
Connecticut does not currently have damage caps in any types of injury cases, whether for economic or non-economic (also known as “pain and suffering”) damages. Connecticut also allows punitive damages in medical malpractice injury cases, although these amounts are limited to the actual costs of the case and the attorney’s fees.