Two men documenting their vehicle accident on their phones.

Different factors are typically used to determine fault in a car accident. Most commonly, these include physical evidence, witness statements, and evaluations of traffic laws and the actions of the drivers involved, given those laws.

Accurate determination of fault is important in Connecticut because the state is at fault. Specifically, Connecticut follows a system known as modified comparative negligence.

What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?

Under the modified comparative negligence tort rule, a plaintiff can pursue compensation from a defendant even if they share in fault. However, their degree of fault is deducted as a percentage of the total amount of damages they are owed.

Additionally, Connecticut has a 51% bar rule, meaning that claimants cannot make a claim if it is determined that they are more than 50% at fault for the accident.

So, for example, if a person is determined to have $20,000 in damages and 40% of the fault, they can only claim $12,000 from that total amount. If you are determined to be only 20% at fault, you are entitled to $24,000 instead.

This shows how it is in a claimant’s best interest to prove they have as little fault in an accident as possible. Conversely, it also shows how it is in the interest of other parties – such as the insurance company or another driver – to prove the opposite.

The more fault one party shoulders, the less the opposing side has to shell out.

In essence, the extent of injury and other damages is what primarily determines the total amount of compensation you are owed (within the limits of the insurance policy). Distribution of fault, however, predominantly determines the actual amount you get.

Determining Assigned Fault in a Car Accident

When you come to an insurance company with a car accident claim, they will assign an agent known as an insurance adjuster to your case. This agent will undertake an investigation, the results of which will be used to recommend an amount to offer you.

Generally speaking, an insurance adjuster’s investigation process follows the same pattern as your legal representative. It involves a lot of time spent reviewing documentation and cross-referencing evidence to draw conclusions.

However, as an insurance company representative, the adjuster should get you to accept as little an amount as possible. Strategies they may use to accomplish this include basing estimates on the lowest possible figures or, more likely, looking for reasons to place fault on you.

How to Minimize Fault According to a Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer

Here are some ways to minimize fault in the event of a car accident.

Follow Traffic Laws

The best way to avoid fault in a car accident is to do what is in your power to prevent the accident in the first place. This means driving defensively and being aware of – and, of course, following – traffic laws in Connecticut.

Obvious actions that can be used to assign the majority of blame to you include drunk and distracted driving. It is also common, however, for drivers to ignore less policed road rules, such as coming to a full stop at a stop sign.

Regardless of the magnitude, any violation of a rule of the road almost always leads to the violating driver taking the bulk of responsibility for an accident that ensues. The inverse is also often true, where a driver who has not broken any rules almost never holds a majority of fault.

Maintain Your Car

Drivers are expected to care for their vehicles, at least enough to keep them in reasonably functional condition. Proper maintenance minimizes the risk of injury to people inside and around the car.

Regular car maintenance can also reduce liability for accidents that occur when car parts fail. A driver may be liable when a worn brake pad leads to a crash, but this is less likely to happen if the same brake pad is new and failure can be traced to a flaw in the product.

In fact, in such a situation, it may be possible to file a defective product lawsuit against the manufacturer and any at-fault parties involved. You can potentially sue an at-fault driver on the basis of negligence but also the manufacturer on the basis of product liability.

Limit Conversation at the Scene

Because the law requires drivers involved in an accident to remain at the scene, you will likely have to interact with other drivers. This is necessary, of course, in order for all parties to exchange information, but if you aren’t careful, it can backfire.

It is very easy to have a couple of words slip and have an insurance adjuster interpret them as an admission of fault. Even simply apologizing can be taken to mean that you are blaming yourself for an accident.

It is also possible to interpret aggressive behavior at the scene as attempting to deflect responsibility. Being quick to point fingers at other parties might be seen as suspicious, even when the aftermath of an accident is a situation where emotions are expected to run high.

Because of this, it is usually a good idea to limit conversation to what is necessary. Provide aid when possible, contact the insurance companies once able, but avoid discussing blame.

Even when first responders arrive on the scene, try to avoid discussing responsibility. It is entirely possible to describe to a police officer what happened that led to the accident without necessarily naming a culprit.

Leave it to the investigation to determine fault once all information is in.

Work With Bert McDowell Injury Law, Your Connecticut Car Accident Law Firm

If you feel backed against the wall with blame pointing your way, look for a way out with Bert McDowell Injury Law. our car accident lawyer in Bridgeport and throughout Connecticut has recovered millions of dollars for our clients and looks to serve you with the same degree of care and dedication that has brought us success.

At Bert McDowell Injury Law, we fight for your rights while sticking to our Three Pillars: client communication, attention, and success. So Bring On Bert and contact us today at (203) 590-9169 for a free case evaluation.

We serve our clientele in English and Spanish and do not charge you a dime until we have won your case.