Auto Accident FAQs
These FAQs are packed with insights and information to help you cope with the emotional and physical stress of dealing with the aftermath of an accident and injuries, like:
Surprise - The other guy was ticketed and arrested at the scene, but his insurance company denies liability.
Anger - Your car was a classic, in perfect shape. You loved that car. The other guy’s insurance company is totaling it and their offer isn’t close to covering the cost to replace it. Why do you have to settle for something you don’t love?
Fear - What if you don’t regain the mobility you need to do your job? Who will hire you?
Anxiety - You’re not working. No money is coming in. Savings are dwindling. And the medical bills, car rental costs, and vehicle repair are more than you can pay. Now what?
Frustration -The accident continues to cost you time you don’t have to make repeated calls to insurance companies, doctors’ offices, repair shops, and try to navigate the complexities of recovering your losses.
It’s tempting to just give up. Please don’t. We can help you.
I’ve just been in an accident. What should I do?
Your safety and the safety of others with you is the number one priority in an accident.
- Call 911 as soon as you can
- Don’t move your car, unless instructed to do so by the police or for public safety.
- If it’s safe and you are feeling well enough, document the crash site with pictures and take notes.
- Do not leave until the police arrive no matter how minor the collision.
Make sure you get the information of those involved in the accident and check their well-being. For all, including witnesses, get the following information:
- name, address, phone numbers, e-mail
- insurance company information
- plate numbers, makes and models of the vehicles involved
If you are in an unfamiliar area, record street names or other landmarks like businesses.
Look around for any surveillance cameras on the street or nearby business which may have captured some or part of the accident, or the speed of the cars before the crash. Record their locations for future reference.
Do not admit fault or apologize to anyone.
Do not leave until the police say you can go.
Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, you should make an appointment to get checked out ASAP by a convenient walk-in center or your Primary care doctor.
This is especially true if you are experiencing any headaches, numbness, or tingling in your arms hands or legs.
Immediate documentation and evaluation of your injuries is extremely important for the fair and timely resolution of your injury claim. Remember to make a log daily of any symptoms from your injuries.
I wasn’t at fault for the accident. Shouldn’t the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for my medical bills?
No, not immediately. Unfortunately, in Connecticut, every person injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault, is responsible for paying their own medical bills until the final disposition of the claim.
This can be a financial hardship, especially for accident victims who don’t have health insurance or who have high deductibles on their health insurance plans.
However, you may have options.
First, check your own car insurance policy. You may have medical coverage available for you and anyone else in your vehicle who was injured in the accident. It is called Medical Payment or Med Pay coverage. Often these bills have to be incurred and claims submitted within one year of the date of the accident.
As your auto accident attorneys, we can often make arrangements for you to see medical specialists in your local area without upfront cost to you under a letter of protection. This means we and your doctors have have agreed to provide medical care and treatment for you and will be paid by our firm when the case is settled. Before you receive your money, all bills will be paid.
Do I have to pay for a rental car after an accident?
If you are not at fault, you are entitled to payment from the at-fault party for a rental car similar to your own.
If fault is in dispute, check your own policy to see if you have rental coverage.
If you choose not to rent a car, you may be entitled to compensation for what is called “loss of use.” Essentially you receive a reasonable daily rate in lieu of the rental car.
At times, a car accident victim and an insurance company cannot agree on these rental terms (i.e. how long a rental car is needed, how much to pay, or how long payments should continue).
You then have the option of contacting the Consumer Affairs Unit which is a part of the Connecticut Insurance Department.
Can I choose where my car gets repaired?
Yes. Connecticut law states you are completely in control of where your car gets fixed after an accident. You can get the repair job done at the place you feel most comfortable.
How do I know if my car repairs are being done safely? What if the repair shop doesn’t do a good job?
Every motor vehicle dealer, repairer, leasing company, and manufacturer operating in the state of Connecticut must be licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The list of those licensed by the state to operate updates weekly and can be found at the DMV website. Any place not on this list is not a reputable location and you are using them at your own risk.
If you have an issue with a repair shop or other kind of company on this list, the DMV has authority to investigate some but not all issues. A list of these issues can be found here. You can also find a form to file a complaint against a company on the list of licensed companies.
I was in an accident and the other driver has no insurance or is underinsured. What can I do?
our own insurance company can help. All automobile insurance policies are required, by law, to include coverage for accidents caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers.
Your auto policy protects you, and anyone else in your vehicle, if you get into an accident caused by a hit and run driver, or with a person who is driving without adequate liability coverage to compensate you fully for your personal injury.
This type of coverage, however, does not cover your auto repairs.
What does it mean if my car is totaled?
When the cost to repair your car is greater than the value of the car itself, your car has been totaled.
Even though your repair cost has reached this threshold, you can still decide to keep your car and repair it. However, this will decrease the value of the vehicle, and the amount you will be paid for the total loss.
When an insurance company declares a car totaled, they inform the state’s DMV. This means the registration on the car is effectively canceled and you should remove your license plates from the car.
It will be illegal for you to drive this car. Typically, the title to the car will also get a “salvage” stamp.
To continue driving the car after repairs are done it needs to pass a DMV salvage inspection which you can learn about here. There is also a salvage inspection form with more information which you can read and fill out out here.
My car is a total loss. How is the value determined?
The Connecticut Insurance Department requires insurance companies use at least two of their commissioner-approved car pricing guides to determine how much your car is worth. They prefer one of them be the NADA Used Car Guide. The other approved pricing guides have links here.
The insurance company will then average the listed retail values to come up with their offer your car.
They must send you their itemized valuation report or appraisal explaining how they arrived at their total loss figure. Experienced accident attorneys can often, but not always, get a better offer for you.
What are my rights regarding the type of replacement parts used for repairs to my car?
No matter what kind of part is involved, you can choose what you want to put on your car. Under law, the repair shop must inform you in their estimate exactly what kind of parts they will use in the repair.
Insurance companies might be unwilling to pay for more expensive parts, and you might have to pay out of pocket if you want either new or even used OEM parts.
Additionally, when it comes to body work on the plastic and metal on your car, non-OEM parts are often used. This is allowed by Connecticut law. Again, this must be detailed in the estimate you receive from your repair shop.
There are a lot of technical terms thrown at you regarding parts after a car accident. Here’s a quick guide to some common ones:
- OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer parts are brand new parts made by the company that made your car.
- Non-OEM or Aftermarket parts are brand new parts made by third party manufacturers to fit your car.
- Recycled parts are either used, refurbished, or otherwise salvaged. Recycled parts can be either OEM or aftermarket parts.
What happens when my insurance pays for my repairs when I was not at fault?
Your insurance company will go through what is called subrogation.
Basically, your insurance company will bring a claim against the at fault party or their insurance company for reimbursement.
Should they win, they’ll get their money back and usually you will get your deductible refunded when they do. The process usually takes a few months.
Do I have to pay your law firm for anything right away?
No. Your first consultation is free. For some types of accidents, we can offer an additional free, 30-days behind-the-scenes legal assistance.
If you decide to hire us, we work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid until you win or we obtain a settlement for you.
Do I need a local auto accident attorney?
You are more likely to obtain personalized care from a local attorney.
A local auto accident attorney can also direct you to the best local medical providers, doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, etc., who can provide the most convenient medical care for you.
A local accident attorney will know which local medical providers are most able and willing to assist you with the important documentation and reporting needs require for your claim. Unfortunately, many doctor’s offices don’t want to bother.
Because local attorneys speak to all insurance carriers frequently, they have developed relationships and can get their calls returned quickly, and move your claim forward faster than you can when working on your own.
Will my insurance rates go up after an accident?
Unfortunately, any time you use your insurance at all, you risk increasing your rate, even if you are not at fault in a car accident.
Many insurance companies offer what is known as an “accident forgiveness” policy where the first accident you have will not increase your rate.
However, in Connecticut, there are no statutes or regulations limiting how high your rates can rise after an accident or for how long.
For instance, the first time you have accident, without accident forgiveness, it might result in a ten percent increase. Typically, insurance companies will keep your rate increased for 5 years.
I have a previous injury, and now a recent auto accident has worsened this condition. How does this effect my claim?
This gets complicated, so having experienced lawyers advising you is your best course.
You are entitled to a recovery for your additional pain and suffering due to the accident and for any temporary or permanent worsening of your underlying preexisting condition.
When you have a previous condition, it is important to get legal advice on what to do about your medical care as soon as possible.
It is very important in this situation to create an accurate medical record of the new condition and new symptoms as soon as possible after the accident.
Is it ok for me to use social media to talk about my accident with friends and family?
While we want to stay connected to those we care about, especially after something like an accident, we need to remember to be careful when posting on social platforms.
Be sure to use good judgement and be extra cautious about what you say, or what pictures you post, including during your recovery from your injury.
Most insurance companies will be able to access your posts and will try to use your statements and photos against you in any way they can during settlement negotiations, even if it’s not fair to you.
How are disputes between auto accident victims and insurance companies handled in Connecticut?
The Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) Consumer Affairs Unit is a state agency that handles such disputes. If a member of the Consumer Affairs Unit is unable to mediate the dispute, arbitration can be an option for consumers.
The consumer first files a complaint with the Consumer Affairs Unit.
When submitting your initial complaint, you will provide copies (NOT originals) of all documents or other items, such as photographs, pertinent to your case.
You should keep additional copies in case you have to submit them for arbitration at a later date.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a private meeting between two (or sometimes more) parties in a legal dispute.
The purpose is to see if the parties can come to an agreement to settle their dispute instead of going to a trial.
An impartial person, called an arbitrator, hears both sides of the dispute and makes a decision based on the evidence presented. The parties follow rules they’ve agreed to.
The results of arbitration can be just as enforceable as a ruling in court.
Who can file for arbitration?
There are two kinds of disputes which can be resolved by arbitration with the Connecticut Insurance Department.
The first is when a consumer is making a claim against their own insurance company under the terms of the policy agreement.
The second is when a consumer is making a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Both kinds require coverage or liability, depending on the situation, is not in dispute. It should be noted, arbitration in this context is only available for private passenger motor vehicles.
What sort of disputes can be arbitrated?
According to the Connecticut Insurance Department some examples are:
- Disputes involving damages to the claimant’s automobile and costs of repair
- the value of the automobile
- loss of use damages
- rental bills for a replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired
- vehicle storage charges after the accident
How do I file for arbitration?
Once the Consumer Affairs Division has determined arbitration is needed, a consumer can ask the Connecticut Insurance Department for a Request for Arbitration Form. They will ask you to fill out the form, and mail it to:
State of Connecticut
P.O. Box 816
Hartford, CT 06142-0816
You must include a check for $20 made out to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut” along with the form and all the evidence you want the arbitrator to see.
They will accept copies or original documents. In addition to documents and/or photographs, arbitrators will typically want items like itemized bills or invoices and any cancelled checks or paid receipts.
A statement of all the facts to the best of the consumer’s knowledge is also part of the form. The most important thing for this section is to provide dates, information, and evidence surrounding the claim.
Additionally, you have the option to select in-person arbitration (where witnesses are allowed), or an evidentiary arbitration where the arbiter will decide based on the strength of the evidence submitted by the parties.
What is the background of the arbitrators? How are they chosen?
The Connecticut Insurance Department uses members of the American Arbitration Association to facilitate arbitrations. They provide a list of 10 experienced, neutral people qualified to hear the case.
If one side or the other objects to the arbitrator, or if they are unavailable for another reason, the next one on the list is then appointed.
To ensure impartiality, arbitrators must have not worked for an insurance company or the CID in the previous 12 months.