Connecticut drivers carry insurance coverage to pay compensation to anyone injured by their reckless or negligent driving. Some motorists, however, carry insufficient or no coverage. Fortunately, state law requires uninsured or underinsured coverage to allow injured parties to recover the monetary damages they would have been entitled if the negligent driver had an adequate liability insurance policy.
Where there are numerous parties liable for the car accident, the injured victim is required to exhaust the insurance policy of one of those negligent parties before recovering underinsured benefits. However, the victim’s insurance carrier may limit its coverage by payments received by the claimant through settlement of an injury claim. These rules provide a minimum amount of protection to underinsured motorists while also assuring that insureds are prevented from double recovery.
In general, settlement payments received in return for dropping claims for damages arising from the auto accident are allowed to reduce insurance payments. Secondly, these claims may be reduced even if the party making a settlement payment was not responsible for the car crash.
For example, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that uninsured motorist policy awards can be reduced from settlements unrelated to personal injury. According to the Court, the victim’s settlement of a legal malpractice case with her law firm was the functional equivalent of payment from the negligent driver’s insurance carrier even though the law firm was not responsible for any injured suffered in the accident.
In another case issued earlier this year, the state Supreme Court also ruled that when a crash victim settled any claims with parties responsible for the accident, the right to recover damages is relinquished. Following this settlement, the victim is entitled to recover only any unused insurance coverage remaining after reductions for settlement payments.
As this case shows, victims of car accidents caused by underinsured or uninsured drivers may be entitled to the full limits of the underinsured motorist coverage. However, this amount may not cover the damages that the victim suffered in the accident.
Those injured in a car accident should, accordingly, seek prompt legal assistance to help assure that all parties responsible for the collision are held liable for compensation for medical expenses and other losses. Legal representation can help assure that rights are protected in dealings with insurance carriers.
Source: Connecticut Judicial Branch, “Guarino v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co., 315 Conn. 249, 105 A.3d 878 (Conn. 2015),” Accessed Oct. 12, 2015