Connecticut Personal Injury Trials

Connecticut Personal Injury Trials by Ryan McKeen

Movies, TV reports, and books are almost always written about one aspect of law: trial. No one has yet to sell a movie about the attorney who drafted the most amazing trust ever.

This post explores the elements of a Connecticut personal injury jury trial. Personal injuries include: car wrecks; medical negligence; legal malpractice; dog bites; fall downs; negligent security; and dental malpractice cases amongst other things. Personal injury cases can be tried before a judge or a jury. However, they are most commonly tried before a jury. This post deals with jury trials only.

Connecticut Personal Injury Trials
Connecticut Personal Injury Trials

Voir Dire

Every Connecticut personal injury trial begins with jury selection (voir dire). In jury selection the lawyers for the parties seat 8 jurors. There are 6 jurors and 2 alternates. Each lawyer can strike 4 jurors for any legal reason (can’t discriminate on basis of race for example). Other jurors can be removed for “cause”. Cause is simply a bias that would prevent the person from serving. Jury selection in Connecticut can take as little time as a day and possibly a week or more.

Opening Statements

Opening statements are an opportunity for all parties to introduce their respective cases to the jury. Opening statements are not evidence. The purpose is to allow the parties the opportunity to orient the jury to issues they may hear in the case. The plaintiff gives the first opening statement. And then the defendant gives an opening statement. Opening statements can vary in length depending on the evidence that will be presented at trial. Lawyers do not argue in opening statements.

Plaintiff Case In Chief

The plaintiff must present his or her case. In an injury case the plaintiff may call all or some of the following people: eye witnesses; police officers; records keepers; doctors; family; the plaintiff; expert witnesses; and other fact witnesses. The plaintiff has the sole burden to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. During this time the defense may cross examine any of the plaintiff’s witnesses.

Defense Case

The defense does not have to call any witnesses. The defense does not have to prove anything. The defendant may choose to call its own experts, fact witnesses, or any other person useful to explaining its case. The plaintiff has the opportunity to cross examine defense witnesses.

Rebuttal Witnesses

The plaintiff may choose to call witnesses to rebut the defendant’s case.

Evidence

Evidence in Connecticut Personal Injury Cases comes in the form of testimony both live and recorded, documents, and pictures.

Closing Arguments

Unlike opening statements, attorneys are permitted to argue what they think the evidence means. Closing arguments are not evidence. The plaintiff goes first, followed by the defendant, and then the plaintiff has one last opportunity to rebut what the defense has said in closing arguments.

Deliberations

The judge will instruct the jury on the law. This is called a jury charge. Once the jury is charged they will go into a private room and deliberate. Juries have as long as they would like to deliberate. When a jury reaches a decision it is called a verdict.

Verdict

The jury foreperson gives a note to the jury clerk stating that a verdict has been reached. The jury then returns to the courtroom and presents the verdict to the court clerk. The court clerk then reads the verdict. Then judgment enters and the case is over.

This is the basic structure of a Connecticut personal injury trial. Many pages could be written about any of the phases of a trial. If you have any questions about Connecticut personal injury trials please contact Ryan McKeen at 860 471-8333. I make myself available for media inquires.

I Was In A Car Accident Do I Have To Pay Copays?

I was in a car accident do I have to pay copays?

Car Accident Do I Have To Pay Copays

You are driving home from work. Or maybe on your way to the store. And suddenly someone drives into you. You were doing nothing wrong. The other driver wasn’t paying attention. Maybe he was on his cell phone. Maybe his mind was on going to the casino after work. Whatever the reason the result is your life has been turned upside down.

Car Accident Do I Have To Pay Copays
Car Accident Do I Have To Pay Copays

Your car is damaged. You need a rental car. You are in pain and can’t work. Suddenly doing simple things like grocery shopping are a challenge. And then there’s copays.

I just selected my health insurance plan for the coming year. The copays are high. If me or a member of my family were in a car accident the copays could be budget busting. As an attorney, it’s no surprise I’m often asked about copays. With most folks budgets stretched thin copays can present a real problem.

Why should I have to pay copays? The Connecticut car accident was not my fault.

Under Connecticut law it is the injured victim’s obligation to pay medical bills including copays. It doesn’t matter who caused the wreck. If the other driver is at fault. You remedy is to seek reimbursement from the person who hit you.

Why does the at-fault driver’s insurance company not pay my copays?

Car insurance companies will not pay “as you go” for medical treatment. Insurance adjusters will only reimburse for medical treatment after all treatment has ended. Unfortunately for those without health insurance or the ability to pay, this frequently means they will have to forego necessary medical treatment or borrow money to pay for it.

What to do about copays?

The good news is your have options. We keep a list of treaters who will take folks on a letter of protection. A letter of protection means your copays will be paid to the provider out of any settlement or verdict.  We can explore the option of a loan against a potential settlement from a third party lender.

The stress of these copays is often overwhelming for an injured person. Many folks choose not to get the treatment they need because they can’t pay the copays. That’s not right.

It is important to keep the copay bills and send them to your lawyer. That way you can be assured they are paid in any settlement.

You may also be interested in knowing your Connecticut rental car rights after a car accident , what to do about your vehicle losing value in a wreck, and who pays your medical bills.  You may also find my Connecticut Car accident law library of posts to be useful.

If you would like a free evaluation of your case contact CT Personal Injury Hall of Fame Finalist Attorney Ryan McKeen at 860 471 8333. I’m here to listen and help.

Who Pays My Medical Bills After A Car Accident?

Who pays my medical bills after a car accident in Connecticut?

Who pays my medical bills after a car accident?
Who pays my medical bills after a car accident?

Even with health insurance car accident victims find that themselves facing significant hospital and doctors bills –  deductibles, copays or even the full bill. The notices pile up.

The calls keep coming. They threaten to report you to credit bureaus. They may even sue you. You have suffered an injury and now you are suffering injustice.

I believe that knowledge is power. I was the victim of a car accident. I’ve been there. I hired a lawyer to help deal with the insurance companies. It made all of the difference. Now I’m in a place to help others.

Here are some common issues faced by victims of Connecticut car accidents:

Why should I have to pay the bills? The Connecticut car accident was not my fault?

Under Connecticut law it is the injured victim’s obligation to pay medical bills. It doesn’t matter who caused the wreck. If the other driver is at fault. You remedy is to seek reimbursement from the person who hit you.

Why does the at-fault driver’s insurance company not pay my bills?

Liability insurance companies will not pay “as you go” for medical treatment. Insurance adjusters will only reimburse for medical treatment after all treatment has ended. Unfortunately for those without health insurance or the ability to pay, this frequently means they will have to forego necessary medical treatment or borrow money to pay for it.

Will my doctor treat me if promise to pay after my settlement?

Some healthcare providers will not provide treatment under a promise to pay later. Others will agree to accept a letter of protection  from an attorney. A letter of protection is a contract from you and your Connecticut car accident lawyer agreeing to pay the doctor for medical fees out of any settlement or verdict.

Who pays my medical bills after a car accident? Will my auto insurance pay my medical bills?

Your car insurance company is not responsible for paying for medical bills stemming from a car accident. Some Connecticut insurance policies do have “medical payments” coverage or medpay. This is additional insurance that must be purchased prior to your accident. Med Pay will provide money for things like bills and co-pays.

What You Can Do

I can help you deal with these bill collectors. Some will agree to letters of protection. We can explore the option of a loan against a potential settlement from a third party lender.

The stress of these bills is overwhelming for an injured person. Many folks ignore them. It is important to keep the bills and send them to your lawyer. That way you can be assured they are paid in any settlement.

You may also be interested in knowing your Connecticut rental car rights after a car accident. You may also find my Connecticut Car accident law library of posts to be useful.

If you would like a free evaluation of your case contact CT Personal Injury Hall of Fame Finalist Attorney Ryan McKeen at 860 471 8333. I’m here to listen and help.

CT Car Accident Rental Law

CT Car Accident Rental Law by Attorney Ryan McKeen

A car accident shattered my world. I was driving along in a car that I loved. A car that I owned. One that worked fine. And suddenly it was mangled and undriveable. The body shop guy said it was “totaled”. I no longer had a car.

CT Car Accident Rental Law by Attorney Ryan McKeen
CT Car Accident Rental Law by Attorney Ryan McKeen

The car rental company wanted to put me in a vehicle that I was not comfortable driving. One much smaller than the vehicle I owned. And the anxiety I had while driving was overwhelming. A much smaller car made me very uncomfortable.

After a Car accident In Connecticut, what are my rights to a rental car? 

If you incur property damage to your vehicle as a result of someone else being at fault, you are entitled to compensation for loss of use of your property – including a rental vehicle. You are entitled to a comparable rental vehicle or reasonable compensation. You are entitled to a vehicle for a reasonable period of time necessary to settle your claim or repair your vehicle. A reasonable period of time for depends on the amount of time needed to repair the vehicle.

You may also have rental coverage under your own policy. Check with your insurance company. These may provide additional benefits to you.

I am an injury lawyer. I help people who are injured. A rental car is often one of the first obstacles faced by someone injured in a car accident. I never take a fee for property damage including rental cars. You can read about my policy here. I want you informed and empowered.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Connecticut you may benefit from my page on Connecticut Car Accident law.

If you would like to discuss your car accident injury case please contact Attorney Ryan McKeen at (860) 471-8333 or  ryan@cttrialfirm.com.

3 Questions To Ask A CT Car Accident Attorney

3 Questions To Ask A CT Car Accident Attorney
3 Questions To Ask A CT Car Accident Attorney

3 Questions To Ask A CT Car Accident Attorney

I’m going to cut to the signal. Here are 3 questions to ask a CT car accident attorney before you hire.

A lot of the information on the internet is noise. Legal websites are written by marketers or even robots. With all that’s out there you’d think it would be easier to hire the right attorney for your case. I’m not sure it is. In many ways the legal marketplace seems less efficient than it did prior to the digital revolution.

I’ve been there. There’s the constant pain. The insurance companies keep calling. The forms sent to me. They have paid me less than my car was worth. I had done nothing wrong and I just wanted it all to go away. And if you’re in the same place, I’d like to help you.

1. Do You Have Legal Malpractice Insurance

Ask this question.

I have done 100s if not 1000s of potential client interviews. I have never been asked about my insurance.

Connecticut lawyers are not required to insurance.  Attorneys are not required to disclose that they don’t carry legal malpractice insurance.

Lawyers can commit legal malpractice in a variety of ways. The most common way is failing to file suit within the statute of limitations period or failing to give proper notice.  Lawyers can also commit malpractice by wrongfully settling your case. Make no mistake about it, legal malpractice insurance protects clients. I have written an entire post about asking this question. Read it. It’s that important. 

2. Do You Do CT Car Accident Focus Groups?

We don’t guess. I ask.  Doing low cost focus groups on my injury cases has a high impact. Not every case needs a focus group. Focus groups are where we ask potential jurors about issues. They help inform us about the strengths and weaknesses in a case. We have invested a lot of time and resource into our focus group practice.

The focus groups we do don’t result in thousands of dollars being added to the expense ledger in your case. We do them for several hundred dollars.

Ask your injury lawyer about focus groups. Do they do them? What is the cost?

3. Do You Focus Your Practice on Personal Injury?

Practicing law is hard. It is hard to be good at more than a few areas of law. Law changes quickly.  Lawyers who concentrate on an area of law understand the rapidly changing playing fields in those areas.

These are just some of the questions that I would ask an attorney if I were hiring. I would of course do other diligence on the lawyer but I’d ask at least these questions. The answers would help me make a more informed decision.

You can read more about Connecticut Car Accident law by clicking here.

If you have been in a CT Car accident, I am happy to answer your questions. Contact Attorney Ryan McKeen at 860 471 8333 or fill out the form below.

Car Accident Insurance Company Has Offered Me Money

The Insurance Company Has Offered Me Money From My Car Accident. Do I Take It?

I was in a car accident. The other person’s insurance company claims they have “accepted responsibility”. And they want me to sign releases. They want me to sign a release giving them access to my medical records. And they want me to sign a release saying I won’t sue them. I’m not a lawsuit happy person. I just want what is fair. And the insurance company tells me that if I hire a lawyer I will get less money because the lawyer will take a fee.

I’d like to talk with a lawyer. I have no idea if what they are offering me is fair. And I certainly don’t want to give a third of what the insurance company is offering to the lawyer. Then I would have less money.

CT Car Accident Attorney
Contact CT Car Accident Attorney Ryan McKeen. 860 471 8333

What Do I Do About My Car Accident Case

The insurance company is deploying advanced psychological tactics to get you to accept their offer. One of the tactics is loss aversion: it’s better to not lose $5 than to find $5. Read more about insurance company tactics here. 

The reason the insurance company is deploying these tactics is in hopes of saving a buck. If the car accident claim is objectively worth 20k and they can get a release for 2k – they look at it as making 18k on your car accident claim.

The Car Accident Solution

Have your case evaluated by a personal injury lawyer.

Tell your personal injury lawyer about the offer. An honest lawyer will give you a straight evaluation if possible. And usually it is easy. Usually the reason the insurance company has offered money at all is because they know the claim is worth many times what they are offering.

I can’t speak for other lawyers, but if you see me I will not accept a case where I can’t help my client. If the insurance company has offered a potential client 3k and I take a third of that and the client now receives 1k – I have made the client worse off. That’s not fair.

Insist on a free case evaluation. Insist that your lawyer not take the case if he can’t help you. Get it put in writing in your fee agreement.

Contact me if you have been in a Connecticut car accident. There is never a fee for my evaluation. And I put my money where my mouth is. 860 471 8333

You may also like my post “Do I Have A Personal Injury Case? 

 

Putting Yourself First

If you are injured, put yourself first.

You are driving along. You are doing the right thing. Another driver chooses not to pay attention. Suddenly your life has changed. The change can range from anything to a nuisance if you are fortunate to life altering if you are not.

I know when I was in a car wreck, the first thing I did was tell the EMTs I was fine. I didn’t need an ambulance. Hours later I was in the ER in severe pain. Pain that would last for days. car accident

We’re often asked “what do I do?”  Our answer is that you do everything you can to get better.

Many folks aren’t comfortable putting themselves first. Right now you may feel powerless. You have been wronged.  And the wheels of justice spin slowly.

The best thing you can do is take care of yourself.

Follow doctors orders. Keep your doctors appointments. Be honest with your doctors. Do the home exercises.

Rest if you need rest.

If you are in pain – tell them. If something new hurts – tell them.

Tell your treating doctors what you were like before. For example, “I never felt this before the car accident”. This will help inform your doctors as to the impact the accident has had on you.

Take care of yourself. Let others help you.

Taking care of yourself is the first step in taking back your life.

You May Also Like:

Do I Have A Case?

I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Will An Attorney Take A Fee On The Property Damage Settlement?

 

Other Driver Says A Dog Caused The Car Wreck

That brown dog. The jerk.

The brown dog is all over the pages of deposition transcripts. He’s always brown. Usually about 40 pounds. His breed is unclear. He’s possibly part lab, maybe some terrier, we’re not really sure. Whatever he looks like he’s the bigfoot of the car accident defense world.

My dog - Brady.
My dog – Brady.

If a car wreck is caused by some sudden emergency, a driver may not be held accountable for causing an accident. Lawyers call this the “sudden emergency doctrine”.

In a case where a driver has a sudden heart attack while driving the doctrine makes sense. The driver had no way to control his vehicle.

But the dog. The dog is much woo.

The basic psychology is our brain is wired to protect itself. Many folks have difficulty accepting responsibility when they cause harm to others. The brain wants a way out. Any way out.

So when an insurance company interviews a client, it can plant the suggestion in his client’s mind by asking the question”did a dog jump out in front of you?”

Many times people in car accidents don’t accurately remember the accident. There’s a fog. In that fog may be a dog.

The good news is we know how to deal with that damn dog. Yes, we do.

How?

We don’t chase the dog. Not for a second. A driver has an obligation to keep his eyes on the road and vehicle under control. We focus on the conduct of the driver. We do this in deposition and if necessary at trial. By the time we’re done there’s no doubt there was no dog. None.

Don’t for a second accept the insurance company’s brown dog story. That’s something they created to protect their money.

Other car wreck posts you may like:

Injured? 3 Insurance Company Dirty Tricks

I Was Injured. Will The Insurance Company Use Private Investigators To Follow Me?

Was The Driver Who Hit Me Reckless?

Was The Driver Who Hit Me Reckless?

Was the driver who hit me reckless?

You are driving along. You are following the safety rules. Then all of the sudden your car is struck. You didn’t see it coming. The other driver was going so fast. Are you a victim of reckless driving?

Whenever we review a personal injury case, we investigate to see if a driver was operating recklessly.

What is reckless driving?

Connecticut law provides that no person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public highway of the state recklessly, having regard to the width, traffic and use of such highway, the intersection of streets and the weather conditions.

How do we determine if a driver is reckless? We look for the following factors:

1.  Was the person operating a motor vehicle recklessly when that person does so knowing or having reason to know of facts that create a high degree of risk of physical harm to another and deliberately proceeds to act in conscious disregard of, or with indifference to, that risk?

2.  Was a person operating a motor vehicle recklessly when that person knows or has reason to know of facts that create a high degree of risk?

3.   Was the operation of a motor vehicle upon any public highway at such a rate of speed as to endanger the life of any person other than the operator of the motor vehicle?

 4. Did the operation of a motor vehicle upon any public highway at a rate of speed greater than eighty-five miles per hour?

If any of those 4 factors are present, the person who caused your injuries may be responsible for reckless driving.

Reckless driving may entitle you to double or treble damages. That means 2 or 3 times the amount you would have been awarded in a wreck without reckless driving?

Reckless driving needs to be specially pleaded in a complaint.

Posts you may like:

Injured? 3 Insurance Company Dirty Tricks

Do I Have A Loss Of Consortium Claim?

I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Will An Attorney Take A Fee On The Property Damage Settlement?

Driver Who Caused Accident Has No Insurance

Yesterday, I wrote about what happens when a driver has a low insurance policy.

The only worse than a low insurance policy is when the person who hits you has no insurance. You are driving along. Following the rules of the road. And then BAM. Through no fault of your own your life has changed on a dime. It’s not right.

Joe Biden’s car?

What are you going to do?

Your only option is likely to make a claim against your own policy. This is known as an underinsured motorist claim. Your insurance acts as if it was the person’s who hit you. Your liability limits are the amount of coverage available to you.

Do I need a lawyer?

Most likely. Insurance companies have thousands of lawyers. They act to protect their money at all costs. And at the time you were in the accident you went from their customer to an adversary. They are going to try to pay you as little as possible.

What will your lawyer do? Your lawyer will make a claim against your insurance policy the exact same way a claim would have been made against the person who hit you.  Your lawyer will also evaluate a claim to see if the person who hits you has any assets that you can recover. Mostly people without insurance have nothing to attach. But your lawyer needs to explore this.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact me. I’m happy to answer your questions.