Uninsured and Underinsured Accidents Attorney in Connecticut
Under Connecticut law, drivers are required to have the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $20,000/$40,000 - Bodily Injury & Uninsured/Underinsured
- $10,000 - Property Damage Liability
The Importance of Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage
After the initial trauma of a car wreck, the concerns of insurance coverage are real. Does the party at-fault have insurance and is it enough to fully compensate for all injuries and losses? Will there be adequate coverage to fully cover future medical care, lost wages at work, and permanent injuries?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that the at-fault driver has limited or no liability insurance. While the State of Connecticut requires automobile insurance coverage, many operators do, in fact, have limited coverage or no coverage at all. Because of the unpredictability of other drivers, BWP strongly recommends you buy as much coverage as you are able.
The importance of the coverage is understood best in terms of statistics. Approximately one in eight drivers are operating a motor vehicle without insurance.
Source: Insurance Information Institute
- “More than one hit-and-run crash happens somewhere in the U.S. every minute.”
- “Up to 90% of hit-and-run accidents result in no punishment”
In the State of Connecticut, should an operator leave the scene of the accident, his or her license will automatically be suspended. Whether or not the operator is charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on the severity of the crash.
Connecticut General Statutes §14-244
A) Hit-and-run that results in a fatality or serious injury
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Imprisonment: At least one year, no more than 10
- License Suspension: At least one year, no more than 5
B) Hit-and-run that results in minor injury or property damage
- Fines: $75- $600
- Imprisonment: Up to one year
- License Suspension: 90 days
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accident statistics, particularly fatalities, are growing. This troubling trend is all the more reason to be sure you have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In the event that you or a family member are a pedestrian while involved in a hit-and-run, this coverage will help to compensate you for your injuries.
How does UM Coverage Work?
When you are in a car wreck with an uninsured driver or if you are involved in a hit-and-run, the other party has no insurance coverage to compensate you for the injuries and damages you sustained in the accident. Should you have “collision” coverage on your policy, this would help cover your property damage. You will also be responsible for any medical expenses you may incur. Your underinsured motorist coverage will compensate you for said bodily injury expenses.
For example, let’s say you are hit by a driver and you severely injure your knee. You sustain permanent damage and your doctor recommends surgery. Unfortunately, the driver had no insurance and there is no coverage to be had with the at-fault party. You have UM coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident. Despite not being able to collect anything from the other driver, you can collect up to $100,000 from your own insurance carrier.
Now, if you are involved in the same accident, but the driver was either uninsured or had left the scene, your UM coverage would compensate you for up to $100,000. It is important that the accident is documented and reported to the police.
How does UIM Coverage Work?
When you are in an accident with an underinsured driver, you must exhaust their insurance coverage and then seek additional damages in the amount of your UIM coverage. Your UIM coverage will be credited for what was paid by the responsible party.
For example, let’s say you are hit by a driver, you severely injure your shoulder and will need surgery. The driver had insurance in the amount of the state minimum ($20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident). You have UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident. After you collect $20,000 from the underinsured driver, you can collect up to $80,000 from your UIM coverage, for a total of $100,000.
Conversion coverage will pay as additional coverage regardless of the responsible party’s coverage. Conversion coverage is above and beyond (additional) what the other party has by way of coverage and in the above example new money.
Contact Buckley Wynne & Parese, experienced attorneys here to help with your uninsured/underinsured motorist claim in Connecticut
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call us today. BWP is focused on representing individuals injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others especially if they are injured by another motorist with little or no insurance coverage. We offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation. We will gladly review the details of each party’s insurance coverage and we will determine and discuss your legal options in regard to your compensation.
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.
General Car Accident FAQs
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.
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.
When fault cannot be determined (i.e. the parties have conflicting accounts of the accident) or the other driver had no insurance, you should proceed with repairs through your own insurance policy. If you have no collision coverage on your policy, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the cost of repairs.
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.
In Connecticut, you are required to buy Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage. This coverage will protect you if the person that caused the accident is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your losses. UM/UIM coverage cannot be used to pay for damages to your vehicle if you do not carry collision coverage. UM/UIM will cover certain other losses, including medical bills, lost wages (past and future), as well as payment for disabilities, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life’s activities. Your UM/UIM coverage is determined by the amount of coverage you purchased.
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.
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