Category: Car Accidents

Circumstantial Evidence That Driver Was On Cell Phone At Time of Collision Was Sufficient to Prove Negligence

The Indiana Appellate court recently held that circumstantial evidence suggesting that a driver was on his cell phone at the time of the motor vehicle collision was enough to establish an inference of negligence.  In the case, the injured plaintiff was stopped at a red light when she was rear ended by the defendant.  When the defendant got out of his vehicle he had a cell phone in his hand and claimed that it was not working.  However, later on while the defendant was still at the accident scene he was observed using the cell phone.  The jury found in the injured plaintiff’s favor.  Defendant appealed arguing that there was insufficient evidence to establish negligence.  The appellate court disagreed.  The court found the following.  One, there was no bad weather, road defects or other excuse for the collision.  Two, defendant’s claim that his cell phone was not working when it actually was working provides a reasonable inference that the defendant tried to conceal the fact that he was using the phone at the time of the accident.  Three, defendant offered no explanation as to why he stated that his cell phone was not working.

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Conversion Coverage – Too Important Not To Have

Under Connecticut law, everyone who has car insurance has uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits coverage.  What most people do not know is how much coverage the underinsured motorist coverage provides.  If you suffer personal injuries in a car accident caused by the negligence of the other driver, you are entitled to be compensated by the other driver’s insurance company.  In many instances, the negligent driver has inadequate insurance.  Typically, the person has a 20,000/40,000 policy.  This means that the negligent driver has a total of $20,000 in insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries and losses.  In most cases, $20,000 will not fairly and justly compensate the person.  This is why underinsurance coverage is so important.  Using the example above, once the negligent driver’s insurance company pays the $20,000, the only other realistic source for additional compensation comes from your underinsurance coverage.  The amount of underinsurance coverage available to you will be dictacted by the terms of your insurance company.  If for example, you have standard uninsured/underinsurance coverage in the amount of 100,000/300,000, you would have a total of $80,000 in underinsurance coverage.  You have $80,000 in coverage and not $100,000 because the negligent driver had $20,000 in coverage.  This is what many people do not understand.  Your underinsurance coverage only kicks in if your coverage exceeds the liability limits of the negligent driver’s insurance policy.  If you have a 20/40 policy and the negligent driver has a 20/40 policy, you do not have underinsurance coverage for that car accident.

However, this can be rectified verry easily and for little additional cost.  It is called conversion coverage.  Insurance companies doing business in Connecticut are required to offer conversion coverage.  Conversion coverage works as follows:  If you are hit by a negligent driver who has a 100/300 policy and you have underinsurance coverage of 100/300 with conversion, you will have a total of $200,000 in available insurance to compensate you for your injuries (100,000 from the negligent driver and 100,000 from your insurance policy).  Without conversion, you would only have the 100,000 from the negligent driver.  The additional cost for conversion coverage is nominal and the benefits of the coverage can not be emphasized enough.  If you do not presently have conversion coverage, contact your insurance company and get it.  The lawyers at Sabatini & Associates have unfortunately seen too many cases where the injured person has been undercompensated due to a lack of sufficient insurance coverage.

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Immunity For Car Rental & Leasing Companies

Congress passed the so-called Graves Amendment, 49 USC 30106, a few years ago which abolishes vicarious liability in the case of rental and leased cars.  In other words, the car owner (the rental company) will not be liable for the negligence of the operator.  This federal law preempts any state law, such as Connecticut’s, which creates vicarious liability against a car rental company.  This federal law seriously affects the ability for an injured person to be fully compensated in the event of a car accident.  Prior to the law, leasing and rental car companies would be responsible in the following scenario:

  • The leased car went through a red light causing serious injuries to the driver of the other car.  The innocent car carried only 50/100 coverage.  The leased car which ran the light had no insurance!  However, the leasing company carried its own insurance of $1,000,000.  Therefore, a pool of $1,050,000 was available to the injured person.  Under the Graves Amendment the injured person would only have $50,000 in insurance coverage.

This law was a gift from Congress to the auto rental and leasing companies.  Furthermore, it is a double standard.  If you permit someone to drive your vehicle and that person causes an accident, you are responsible for the injuries because you permitted someone to drive your vehicle.  Under the Graves Amendment, not only do the auto leasing and rental companies permit others to drive vehicles they own, they get paid for the granting of that permission.  Yet, in exhange for those payments, they face no financial responsibility when the driver causes injuries as a result of negligent driving. 

This law adss another reason why everyone driving should be adequately insured including conversion uninsured and underinsured conversion which will be discussed in further detail in a future blog post.

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What Is A Cervical Strain?

“Cervical Sprain/Strain” refers to an injury to the muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues of the neck, head, and upper back resulting from a sudden and severe snapping motion, either forward and back or side-to-side. Motor vehicle crashes are among the most common causes of these injuries.  Many neck strains caused by a car or truck accident result in permanent pain.  The permanency of the injury is typically diagnosed by the patient’s treating orthopedic doctor.

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New Haven Bike Accident Results In Injuries

 A man was injured after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in New Haven late Tuesday morning.  Police said the man was struck on Dixwell Avenue at about 10 a.m.   There was an eyewitness to the accident.  According to the witness, the car that hit the bicyclist fled the scene.  It will be not surprising if the car that fled had no insurance or the driver did not have a license.  These are some of the typical reasons for fleeing an accident scene.  Also, with the rise in gasoline prices, there are more and more people using bicycles for transportation.  As a result, there may be an increase in bike accidents.  If you are using a bicycle on busy Connecticut roads, wear a helmet for safety. 

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