Comparative Negligence in Connecticut

Under Connecticut state law, you can recover damages for a car accident unless you’re found to be more than 50% at fault.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that you can recover damages in a car accident where you were partially at fault—as long as you weren’t more than 50% at fault.
Say you’re driving down the highway, going eight or nine mph over the limit, and the car next to you suddenly swerves out of their lane and scrapes the side of your car. Soon after you pull over, both you and the other driver will begin the process of assigning blame.
This is where the legal doctrine of comparative negligence comes in. Comparative negligence can help to solve these collision conundrums fairly, so it’s crucial that you know the negligence laws for your state. That’s why
has put together everything you need to know about comparative negligence law.
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What is comparative negligence?

When it comes to car crashes, comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that allows blame to be split.
Revisiting the earlier example: if you were found to be 20% at fault for speeding, and the other driver was found to be 80% at fault for swerving into your lane, you could recover 80% of your total damages. Usually, damages are an amount of money equal to the harm done to you and your car.
Comparative negligence applies both in personal injury lawsuits and when you
file an insurance claim
. So, if you file a lawsuit against the driver who swerved into you, a judge or jury will decide on their share of the blame, and you can recover accordingly. When you file an insurance claim, the insurer will use comparative negligence to decide how much of the claim they are willing to pay.

Types of comparative negligence

The three types of comparative negligence are pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Each state follows one of these three principles.
  • Pure comparative negligence: Both injured parties can collect damages according to their percentage of fault. Even if you were 90% responsible for a crash, the other driver will still have to cover 10% of your damages because of their fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: Injured parties can collect damages according to their percentage of fault unless it was greater than 50% (or equal to 50% in some states). So, if you’re found to be 70% at fault for a crash, you won’t be able to recover anything for your damages.
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party can’t recover damages if they have any share of the blame. Contributory negligence is an outdated doctrine because of its unfair results—just imagine if somebody ran into you at 100 mph, but you couldn’t collect damages because you forgot to use your blinker!
Key Takeaway: Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that allows drivers in an accident to split responsibility and recover damages according to their share of the blame.

What is Connecticut’s comparative negligence law? 

Under Connecticut law, you can recover for damages in a
car accident
unless you are more than 50% at fault. Connecticut is one of 33 states that use modified comparative negligence.
  • If you are 20% at fault for an accident, the other driver will be responsible for 80% of your damages. You won’t be responsible for their damages.
  • If you are 50% at fault for an accident, you will each be responsible for half of the other’s damages.
  • If you are more than 50% at fault for an accident, you will be responsible for a portion of the other driver’s damages and will not be able to recover for your own damages at all.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

If there are more than two drivers
at fault in an accident
, responsibility will be split between all of the drivers. If you were hurt in a car accident where more than one other driver is at fault, you can submit a claim to any or all of their insurance companies.
If one of the other drivers doesn’t have enough money to pay, the other at-fault parties will have to pay the extra share—that way you can have the full recovery that you’re entitled to.
MORE: How different types of car accidents affect your insurance rate

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

Though car accidents can be complicated, insurance companies will try to assign blame accurately by examining the available evidence and reviewing police reports.
If you’re near an accident that just happened and you can safely approach the vehicles, it’s important to gather evidence, such as:
  • The types of vehicles in the accident
  • The weather conditions and time of day
  • Witness reports
  • Photographs of the damage (be sure to photograph the vehicles in their entirety—it’s easy to miss damage at first sight!)
Once you make sure that everybody’s alright, it’s a good idea to call the police as well. A police report can be pivotal when insurance companies are trying to assign blame.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

Because Connecticut is a modified comparative negligence state, you can file a claim with another driver’s insurance company as long as you weren’t more than 50% at fault for the accident.
Let’s run through another example. You’re entering an intersection on a green light. Out of the corner of your eye, you see another car running the red light, heading straight for you. Although you try to stop in time, you skid into the other car because you were going 12 mph over the speed limit.
An insurance company finds you to be 30% at fault for speeding, while the other driver is 70% at fault for
distracted driving
and running a red light. If the damage to your car is $3,000, you’ll be able to file a claim and gain $2,100 from their insurance company (70% of the damage to your car). Because their portion of fault was greater than 50%, they won’t be able to file a claim, and your insurance company won’t have to pay anything.
Key Takeaway: As long as you weren’t more than 50% at fault for an accident, you’ll be able to file an insurance claim and recover damages for the other driver’s percentage of the blame.
MORE: Hit and run insurance claims: Everything you need to know

How to find affordable car insurance

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is definitely the case when it comes to your car insurance. If you want to make sure that you’re protected when you get into an accident, you’re going to need great car insurance.
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Yes. Although insurers use lots of factors to calculate your insurance rate, driving history is one of the most important. If you’re found to be at fault in a collision, expect your insurance rates to jump up.
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