Connecticut Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Litigating a Connecticut auto accident takes place against the background of a complex system of state statutes and court decisions. Some of the more important features of Connecticut law related to auto accidents are listed below:

Statute of Limitations: In Connecticut you must file a personal injury or property damage lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident. Narrow exceptions apply.

Shared Liability: Connecticut applies a modified comparative fault system when the victim is partly to blame for the accident. If the victim wins the lawsuit, the court will subtract an amount from his damages equal to his own percentage of fault as determines by the court – 25 percent, for example. If the court finds that victim to be more than 50 percent at fault, he will not be entitled to any damages at all.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Connecticut is not a “no fault” liability state – you are free to file a claim against the other party’s liability insurance carrier, or file a lawsuit seeking damages.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: Connecticut requires every driver to carry auto liability coverage with minimum coverage limits of $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage (20/40/10).

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers: Unlike most states, Connecticut requires its drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured driver’s insurance. Minimum coverage limits are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.

Types of Damages Available: Compensatory damages are available. Punitive damages are also available for reckless, wanton or willful misconduct, but the amount is limited to the amount needed to cover attorneys’ fees and non-taxable costs of litigation.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: No-fault liability is possible based on reasonable consumer expectations and a risk/benefit analysis of an allegedly defective product design.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): The principle of sovereign immunity prevents a lawsuit against the state government without its permission. You may seek this permission by applying to the Connecticut Claims Commissioner within one year of the accident. If permission is granted, you may sue in the state Superior Court.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Minors under 18 are required to wear helmets. No other formal restrictions apply, although failure to wear a helmet might have consequences in a civil lawsuit.

Seat Belt Laws: Occupants seven years of age and above must wear seat belts while sitting in the front seat. The maximum fine for a first offense is $92 for adults and $120 for minors under 18.

Dram Shop Laws: Alcohol vendors can be held liable to third-party accident victims if they serve alcohol to a minor or to an obviously intoxicated adult. Social hosts can be held liable to third-party accident victims only if they knowingly serve alcohol to minors.

DUI/DWI Laws: In Connecticut the legal BAC limit is 0.08 percent (0.02 percent for minors under 21), and enhanced penalties apply at 0.16 percent. First offense penalties include 2 days to 6 months of jail time, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension of one year.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Connecticut bans the use of hand-held devices while driving, all cell phone use by school bus drivers and minors under 18, and texting while driving for all drivers.