Traffic Accidents Attorney in Portland, CT
Buckley Wynne & Parese is committed to providing you with exceptional legal service and to protecting you and your family’s legal rights and interests. We take great pride in helping our clients and value each client relationship. Our attorneys and staff are fully dedicated to assisting you and answering your questions. Contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to representing you and exceeding your expectations.
Car Accidents in Portland
If you or a loved one was injured in a car collision in Portland -rear end, head-on, sideswipe, etc.- you should contact a personal injury attorney. Contacting a lawyer is the first step toward recovering everything you are entitled to under the law. Here at BWP, our attorneys are experienced, determined and aggressive. We offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation. If you think you may have a case, you are invited to call us at no charge to discuss your options.
- 6 Million: Car accidents each year
- 3 Million: Annually injured in car accident
- 2 Million: Sustain permanent injuries as a result of a car accident
Complaints to the Department of Insurance should be directed as follows:
State of Connecticut Insurance Department, Consumer Affairs, P.O. Box 816, Hartford, CT 06142-0816. Phone: 1-800-203-3447. All complaints must be in writing. For a complaint form, go to: http://www.ct.gov/cid/lib/cid/cons.pdf.
We understand that traumatic injuries in Portland can have a profound effect on one’s family. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, contact us today. We endeavor to use all of our attention and resources towards helping our clients and their families protect their interests and get back on their feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Your legal fees are paid on a contingency fee basis unless otherwise specified. That means that we are not paid unless we recover compensation for you.
Once it is safe to do so, you should attempt to document the entire situation by taking photographs and careful notes. Having notes to remind you of all the details of what happened, and what you went through, is far easier and far more accurate than relying on your memory.
Write things down as soon as you can: begin with what you were doing and where you were going, the people you were with, the time and the weather. Include every detail of what you saw, heard and felt. Be sure to add anything you remember hearing anyone — a person involved in the accident or a witness — say about the accident.
Finally, make daily notes of the effects of your injuries. You may suffer pain, discomfort, anxiety, loss of sleep or other problems you are experiencing. These notes can be very useful two or six or ten months later, when you put together all the important facts into a final demand for compensation.
*For more information on your rights and responsibilities after an accident, see: Motor Vehicle Rights and Responsibilities.
Figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless. For vehicle accidents, there is a set of official written rules telling people how they are supposed to drive and providing guidelines by which liability may be measured. These rules of the road are the traffic laws everyone must follow.
Sometimes a violation of one of these traffic rules is obvious and was clearly the cause of an accident — for example, when one driver runs a stop sign and crashes into another. In other situations, whether or not there was a violation will be less obvious. A common example is a crash that occurs when drivers merge into a single lane of traffic.
Sometimes, the ultimate determination of who should be responsible is left up to the fact finder or jury.
The law in Connecticut requires that you initially pay for your medical treatment. It is a common misconception that the at-fault driver will pay for your medical treatment. This often leads to frustration. We will do everything we can to help you manage your options, but please note: we are not allowed by law to pay your medical bills. If you had medical treatment (e.g. ambulance, hospital evaluation) and have no insurance or ability to pay for that treatment, the provider may send the bill to collection. While we may send letters to medical providers offering to protect their bills, many providers will not agree to such an arrangement (see discussion below). Unfortunately, we cannot stop a collection action or pay your bills. If you are receiving collection letters or outstanding bills, please contact us to discuss your options in more detail.
There are essentially five ways for your medical bills to be paid and there often is priority under the law. Therefore, be sure we are aware of any and all of the following:
If you were on the job at the time of the incident.
Medical payments (“Med Pay”) coverage on your auto policy
If you have Med Pay coverage on your auto policy, or you were a passenger in a car that had Med Pay coverage, you should use this coverage to pay your bills, even if you have health insurance. Med Pay will pay up to its limits, after which point your bills should be paid through one of the three remaining sources.
Health Insurance & Medicare/Medicaid
Generally, your health insurance will not cover your accident related bills unless and until you can prove that you do not have Med Pay. We will help you secure a “No Med Pay Letter” when appropriate.
Letter of Protection
Under certain circumstances, when someone else caused an accident, and you do not have Med Pay or health insurance, some doctors will accept a Letter of Protection from our office. This obligates our office to reimburse your doctor from the proceeds of your lawsuit settlement or judgment. Because payment is not guaranteed and will be delayed until the resolution of the case, many doctors will not agree to do this.
The final way to pay your medical bills is out-of-pocket. Please be sure to keep track of everything you have paid. All reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket losses should be recorded and provided to us.
Ideally, the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for repairing your vehicle. Sometimes, liability is not accepted, however, and it is easier and quicker to pursue a damage claim under your own insurance coverage.
Yes. In Connecticut, you are entitled to Loss of Use, which includes either a rental vehicle or the value of a comparable rental vehicle. For more on your rights, see Motor Vehicle Rights and Responsibilities.
You can pursue an uninsured or underinsured motorist (“UM” or “UIM”) claim under your own auto insurance policy. This insurance coverage applies if you have been hit by an uninsured driver or where the coverage of the at-fault driver is insufficient to pay for your damages. “UM” and “UIM” coverage is mandated by law. You should consult with an attorney before filing a claim.
The accident was my fault-
When you caused the accident, you are responsible for repairing your own vehicle and the other vehicle that you damaged. Assuming you are insured, your company will pay for the damages to the other vehicle up to your policy limits. If you have “collision coverage” under your policy, you will also be covered for repairs to your vehicle up to the amount of your coverage. You will likely have a deductible of $500 or $1,000. You should not have to pay more than your deductible if you have full collision coverage. When you caused the accident, your right to a rental car is subject to the terms of your insurance policy. If you purchased rental reimbursement coverage, you will be covered for a rental car. Most insurers can set up direct billing with the rental car company. Check with your insurance company or insurance agent regarding your coverage.
The accident was not my fault-
If someone else caused the accident, that person’s insurance company (if the other person is insured) should pay for the cost of repairs. You should not have to pay for anything. You are entitled to take the vehicle to a repair shop of your choice for repairs. If you were injured, you should consult with an attorney before communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company about repairs. If the other person was not insured but was at fault, you should use your own insurance. Your company will later undertake efforts to get its money back through a process known as subrogation.
The insurance company is required to use at least the average of the retail values according to the NADA Used Car Guide (www.nadaguides.com) and one other automobile industry source approved by the Insurance Commissioner. The insurance company must give you a copy of the information relied upon in determining the value of your car. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to underestimate the value of your car or the damages sustained to a repairable car. Don’t hesitate to get an explanation for the method used to calculate the value of your vehicle. If you continue to have any concerns, contact an attorney.
When 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 will be deemed a “Total Loss”. Insurance companies have the authority to declare a vehicle a “total loss”, but they are subject to regulation by the Insurance Department. Under Connecticut law, a vehicle may be declared a “constructive total loss” when the cost to repair or salvage the damaged property, or the cost to both repair and salvage such property, equals or exceeds the total value of the property at the time of loss. In such a case, the car will be deemed a total loss.
No. When the vehicle is done, make sure that a licensed repairer tells you that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.
“OEM” parts are new parts made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. “Aftermarket” parts are new parts that are not manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. “Recycled” parts, sometimes referred to as salvage, reconditioned or used parts, are frequently obtained from auto recyclers or junkyards and can be either OEM or non-OEM parts. “Recycled” or “Non-OEM” parts may be used for repair work, but you should be notified of that fact in the repair estimate. Independent repairers often argue against the use of certain recycled and aftermarket parts on the grounds that they are not as dependable or safe as OEM parts. Make sure to talk to your repairer about whether recycled or aftermarket parts are being used and how they could affect the safety of your repair.
You should always ask about the parts that will be used for the repair of your vehicle. Whenever possible, you should insist on OEM parts. If your insurance company refuses to pay for OEM parts, have your insurance company send you the applicable section of your insurance contract authorizing it to refuse payment for OEM parts. If non-approved parts are used, it could void your manufacturer’s warranty and cause a decrease in value to your vehicle - or even compromise the safety of your vehicle. If you have questions or concerns about the use of aftermarket or used parts, contact an attorney or the Auto Body Association of Connecticut.
You should start by checking with the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC). A list of member shops can be found at www.abaconn.com. It is recommended that you choose a shop that has unibody repair equipment and certified technicians. Look for I-CAR or ASE certification, for example. Ask if the shop will be using genuine manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts. Ask if the shop offers a repair warranty. Ask if the shop is a member of the ABAC.
You do not have to take your car to a drive-in claims center or other insurance company facility. Your insurance company may try to coerce you into using its direct repair program (e.g. “preferred program”, “blue ribbon”, or “concierge program”) for repairs or to be appraised. You do not have to do this. A direct repair program (DRP) is a contractual arrangement between the repair shop and the insurance company. DRP arrangements are controversial because they put pressure on the repairer to keep costs down, often at the expense of the customer. It is generally in your best interest to choose an independent repair facility that will be looking out for you - and not conflicted by its obligations to an insurance company.
Yes- your car, your choice! Under Connecticut Law, you have the right to choose the repair facility of your choice. Before you chose a repair shop, ask the shop if it has a contractual arrangement with your insurance company or the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
General Car Accident FAQs
- When in doubt, call for an ambulance.
- Prevent further accidents: Turn on hazard lights, use cones, warning triangles or flares, as appropriate. If there are no serious injuries, and it would be safer to do so, move vehicles to a safe place.
- Call the police, even if it was a minor accident.
- Write down the names, addresses, and telephone and driver’s license numbers of all of the other drivers and the insurance information for each of the other vehicles.
- Get witness information if possible.
- Take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles.
Seek immediate medical attention. If in doubt, take an ambulance or get a ride to the nearest hospital to be examined. All Connecticut hospitals will treat you, regardless of whether you have insurance.
If you suffered an injury that was caused by someone else, you should consult with an attorney immediately. It is never too soon to call an attorney, particularly if you have suffered severe injuries. BWP offers free initial consultations and will meet you at your home or at the hospital to accommodate injuries and mobility restrictions. We will come to you. Especially in the case of serious injury, it is important that you call BWP as soon as able to protect your rights.
If you were injured in an accident, there are four primary ways for your medical bills to be paid.
1st- Medical payments (“Med Pay”) coverage on your auto policy
If you have Med Pay coverage on your auto policy, or you were a passenger in a car that had Med Pay coverage, you should use this coverage to pay your bills, even if you have health insurance. You can determine if you have Med Pay coverage by checking the declarations page of your auto policy or by calling your insurance company or agent. If you have Med Pay, bring your auto insurance declarations page to your doctor for processing payment. You can also contact your auto insurance company directly to get reimbursement or payment for emergency medical treatment. Med Pay will pay up to its limits, after which point your bills should be paid through one of the three remaining sources.
2nd- Health Insurance & Medicare/Medicaid
Generally, your health insurance will not cover your accident related bills until you can prove that you do not have Med Pay. When you call your auto insurance company, request a “No Med Pay Letter”, which you can give to your doctors and health insurer. If you neglect your bills, even if the accident was not your fault, your health care providers may send your bill into collections.
3rd- Letter of Protection
Under certain circumstances, when someone else caused an accident, and you do not have Med Pay or health insurance, some doctors will accept a Letter of Protection from an attorney. This obligates your attorney to reimburse your doctor from the proceeds of your lawsuit settlement or judgment. Because payment is not guaranteed and will be delayed until the resolution of the case, many doctors will not agree to do this. You will need an attorney if you wish to be treated under a Letter of Protection.
The final way to pay your medical bills is out-of-pocket. Make sure to keep track of everything you paid. If you were not the cause of the accident, you can claim these expenses through a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Unfortunately, the other party's insurance will not pay your bills until such time as the case is resolved (which in most cases can take a year or more). A common misconception is that the at-fault driver, or his/her insurance company, is responsible for paying your medical bills as they are incurred. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you require medical attention and cannot find a doctor willing to treat you, you should go to your local hospital for care. The cost of treatment will ultimately be your responsibility. Many hospitals, however, offer programs to help modest means patients. For additional assistance with getting medical treatment, you should consult with an attorney.
We will get it for you if you retain BWP. It is important that you get a copy of the police report as soon as you can. That will have the other driver’s insurance information if you do not already have it. It will also set forth a preliminary version of the accident, which insurance personnel will rely on for settling property damage matters. Concludingly, the police report does not establish who was at fault in a court of law.
If someone else was at fault, you are also entitled to compensation for the loss of use of your property. That means either: The use of a comparable rental vehicle (i.e. a full-size truck if you were driving a full-size truck); or Reasonable compensation for the loss of the use of your vehicle if you do not get a rental. Generally, “reasonable compensation” means the amount you would have had to spend on a rental car for the period of time necessary to settle your claim or repair your vehicle.
Tip: Insurance companies are generally eager to cut claim costs whenever possible. This is why you may be pressured to take your car to the insurance company's direct repair shop. Don’t let the insurance company steer you away from an independent repair shop.
After your insurance company pays for your repairs, it will likely seek reimbursement through a process known as “subrogation”. In a subrogation claim, the insurance company essentially steps into your shoes and brings a claim against the other driver in an effort to get its money back. If successful, your insurance company will be reimbursed and you should also be reimbursed for your deductible. In some accidents, fault is uncertain. In other words, both parties may share in the responsibility. Thus, it may be found that one party is 80% responsible and the other is 20% responsible. If this happens, damages will be apportioned accordingly. If you paid for your own damages and rental car because you had no collision coverage, you may wish to bring a claim against the at fault party for reimbursement. For more information on this process, consult with an attorney.
There is no hard and fast rule regarding premium calculations. In general, if you cause your insurance company to make payment on your behalf because of an accident you were responsible for causing, there is a chance your rates will go up. If, on the other hand, your insurance company has to pay you on your policy because of the other party’s negligence (i.e. Med-Pay claim or UM/UIM), your rates will not likely go up. For specific guidance regarding your policy, contact your insurance agent or representative.
As soon as practical, you should call your insurance company and report the accident. You should do this regardless of who was at fault. An agent will likely ask you about what happened, damages to the vehicles and personal injuries. As part of your insurance contract, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. If you do not cooperate with the reasonable demands of your insurance company, you risk denial of coverage. You have no duty or obligation, however, to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. The other party’s insurance agent may ask you to give a recorded statement. You should not agree to do this without first speaking to an attorney.
No. Insurance companies do not fix cars; they only pay for the cost to repair your car. Make sure you know who is actually fixing your car. If you left your car at a drive-in claims center, you might be surprised to know who is actually fixing your car - because it's not your insurance company.
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