Child daughter congratulates mom and gives her postcard

Last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Connecticut slip-and-fall case requiring the court to determine if the lower court was proper in ruling that the plaintiff proved her case against the defendant hospital. Ultimately, the court affirmed the lower court’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the defendant’s challenges to the lower court’s rulings were without merit.

SidewalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a loved one at a hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The plaintiff was on her way out of the hospital, walking on a sidewalk on hospital property, when she stubbed her toe. This caused her to fall to the ground, resulting in serious lower back injuries. Additionally, she broke her toe when she stubbed it against the object. The plaintiff did not see what caused her fall.

The plaintiff filed a Connecticut personal injury lawsuit against the hospital, arguing that the hospital should have not allowed the divot in the pavement to remain or should have warned about its presence. The plaintiff claimed that the hospital’s failure to fix the defect or warn her about it resulted in her tripping and injuring herself.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Connecticut issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a man who slipped and fell after exiting a public pool after an aqua-therapy class. The court was tasked with determining whether the municipality that owned and operated the pool was entitled to immunity, despite the fact that it had charged a fee to the organization that put on the aqua-therapy class. Ultimately, the court concluded that, while the municipality did charge a fee for the usage of the pool, the fee was nominal and did not result in the municipality making a profit. Thus, government immunity remained intact, and the plaintiff’s lawsuit was dismissed.

Swimming PoolThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was participating in an aqua therapy class taught by a local organization that provided rehabilitation services. The organization had requested the use of the pool by sending a one-page request to the municipality and agreeing to pay a $50 fee. The organization was not the only group to use the pool, and when the pool was not being rented out to a group, it was designated for public use.

After the class, the plaintiff exited the pool and walked back to the men’s locker room. On his way, he slipped and fell on a wet step, injuring himself in the process. The plaintiff filed a premises liability case against the municipality, claiming that its negligence in maintaining the area around the pool resulted in his injuries.

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Earlier last month, the Connecticut Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a Connecticut car accident case requiring the court to discuss the distinction between a judge’s decision whether to admit certain evidence and the weight that evidence is afforded by the fact-finder once admitted. Ultimately, the appellate court determined that the trial court properly admitted the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony yet was within its right to assign the evidence little weight and find in favor of the defendant.

Curved RoadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Transportation after she was involved in a car accident with a Department-owned vehicle. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that she was driving southbound on the highway when she passed the Department vehicle. As she passed the vehicle, she heard a loud bang, and the next thing she knew, her car was sliding upside-down on the highway. The plaintiff claimed that the Department was liable for the negligence of the Department employee who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The Department denied liability and maintained that the plaintiff was the one who caused the accident. The Department called the employee to testify. He explained to the court that his vehicle was pulled completely off the road and that he had engaged the vehicle’s hazard lights when the Department vehicle was struck from behind by the plaintiff’s car.

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Earlier this month, a Connecticut appellate court issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that was brought by the accident victim against a museum that had arranged the classic-car drive in which the at-fault motorist was participating at the time of the accident. The appellate court was tasked with determining if the lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the defendant was proper. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court erred because it based its ruling on grounds that were not raised by the defendant.

Classic CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle on a Connecticut road when the defendant pulled out in front of him, causing a collision. At the time, the defendant was participating in a classic-car cruise that was arranged by the defendant museum. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver of the car as well as the museum. This case deals solely with the plaintiff’s claim against the museum, alleging that the museum was vicariously liable for the driver’s actions.

Before the case reached trial, the museum asked the court to dismiss the case, based on the fact that it did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. Specifically, the museum argued that it was not foreseeable that a participant in the cruise would run a stop sign and cause an accident. The trial court disagreed with the defendant and denied summary judgment on that basis. However, the court granted summary judgment based on the court’s own determination that public policy considerations prevented the defendant from being held liable in this situation. The court explained “to permit vicarious liability where there is no direct liability would be to accomplish indirectly that which could not be accomplished [directly].” The plaintiff appealed.

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Anyone who drives in Connecticut is required to obtain a certain amount of insurance. The purpose of this requirement is two-fold. First, if a driver causes an accident resulting in serious injuries, the driver may not be able to pay for the victim’s injuries. Insurance provides a source of compensation for the accident victim, even if the at-fault driver is insolvent.

Front-End DamageThe second reason for the auto-insurance requirement is for a motorist’s own protection in the event of an accident caused by an underinsured driver or a driver who has no insurance at all. In these cases, a motorist’s underinsured/uninsured protection will cover their injuries, up to the policy limit. However, even with uninsured motorist protection, there are some situations in which a motorist will not fully be able to recover compensation, due to the limits of their own policy. Conversion insurance can help motorists tap into the full value of their policy.

Conversion insurance, like underinsured motorist protection, provides coverage in the event of an accident involving an underinsured motorist. The benefit of conversion insurance, however, is that it is not reduced by payments received from other sources. For example, assume a motorist with a $200,000 insurance policy sustains $500,000 in injuries caused by another driver with an insurance policy maximum of $300,000. With traditional underinsured motorist protection, the accident victim will only receive $300,000 from the underinsured driver’s insurance policy. This is because the accident victim’s insurance policy only guarantees $200,000, regardless of the source. In this case, the accident victim received what he was promised– $200,000 – even though it was not from his own insurance policy. Thus, the accident victim’s claim under his own insurance policy would be for $0. This is because with traditional underinsured motorist insurance, the total recovery amount is reduced by funds received from any other source, in this case the other motorist’s insurance policy.

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While car insurance is required in Connecticut, unfortunately not every motorist purchases the required coverage, and sometimes even when a motorist does have insurance, they do not have enough to cover the costs of an accident that they cause. In these situations, the accident victim’s own insurance policy or policies may kick in to help provide the accident victim with much-needed compensation for their injuries. This is because Connecticut requires all drivers to carry underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist protection provides coverage in hit-and-run accidents, as well as when the at-fault party does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance.

Insurance ContractsWhat is Stacking?

Stacking refers to seeking compensation from two separate insurance policies. For example, assume that a driver incurs $200,000 in medical bills after a hit-and-run accident. The at-fault driver effectively has no insurance because they cannot be located, so the accident victim’s uninsured motorist coverage kicks in as the sole means of compensation. However, what if the motorist has an insurance policy that covers several vehicles? What if the accident victim has two insurance policies?

Stacking Insurance Policies in Connecticut

Connecticut is an anti-stacking state, meaning that as a general rule, accident victims are not permitted to stack coverage within a single policy. This means that an accident victim who has a policy that covers three vehicles at $50,000 per vehicle will not be able to obtain $150,000 for a single accident by stacking the coverage for the three covered vehicles. In this situation, the accident victim will be limited to the $50,000 per vehicle limit.

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Every Connecticut driver is required to have a certain amount of insurance to help cover the costs of an accident should one occur. The idea behind the Connecticut car insurance requirement is that a driver may not have the means to cover the costs of the property damage and medical bills that result from an accident that they cause. By requiring drivers to have insurance, this ensures that accident victims will not be left without any means of recourse.

Front-End DamageConnecticut lawmakers are responsible for setting motor vehicle insurance limits. Liability insurance covers any accident caused by the vehicle owner’s negligence or the negligence of anyone they allow to use their vehicle. Currently, Connecticut requires that motorists carry coverage for $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage.

Some serious Connecticut car accidents, however, result in far more damage than these liability limits cover. For this reason, lawmakers also require that Connecticut motorists carry insurance in the event that the person who causes an accident does not have sufficient insurance or has no insurance at all.

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