Connecticut Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws

If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Connecticut, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Connecticut statutes in each section.

Here are the Connecticut car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 14-300

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian is allowed to suddenly leave a curb, sidewalk, crosswalk or any other place of safety next to or on a roadway and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close to constitute an immediate hazard to themselves.
Section 14-300c

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk signal is showing.
Section 14-299

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 14-300b

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 14-300c

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
Section 14-427a

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary.
Section 14-300d

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

No pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders them a hazard must not walk or stand on any part of a roadway.
Section 14-300c

Driving Laws

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • When the right side of the road is closed to traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
Section 14-230

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 14-232

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without interfering with oncoming traffic oncoming traffic.
Section 14-232

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When vehicles in adjoining lanes of traffic (going in the same direction) have come to a stop or have reduced their speed.
  • When the roadway has three or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 14-233

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway. A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 14-240

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers must not drive while using a handheld mobile electronic device, including typing, sending, or reading a text message, except for the sole purpose of contacting emergency services.

Drivers under 18 years of age must not use a handheld or a handsfree mobile electronic device while driving, except for the sole purpose of contacting emergency services.
Section 14-296aa

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver in the right.
Section 14-245

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection, or into an alley, private road or driveway must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 14-242

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all other vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 14-247

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.Unlike drivers, pedalcyclists are permitted to ride on the shoulder of the road.

Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and give an audible signal within a reasonable distance before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Bicyclists on a roadway must give an audible signal, within a reasonable distance, before overtaking and passing a pedestrian or another bicyclist.
Sections 14-286 and 14-286a

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway. A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane.

Motorcyclists must not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane.
Section 14-289b

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 14-289b

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists under 18 years of age must wear helmets while riding on roadways.
Section 14-289g

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle manufactured after January 1, 1980 must have at least one lighted headlight on at all times while driving. Every motorcycle must have at least one and not more than two headlights.
Section 14-289b
Section 14-96b

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives without regard for width, traffic and use of roads, or the weather conditions is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 14-222

Alcohol and Minors

A driver under 21 years of age must not drive if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.02% or higher.
Section 14-227g

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage must give their name and address to any person involved in the accident or police officers investigating the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 14-225

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 14-225.

Section 14-225 reads in part that the driver must give their name and address to any person involved in the accident or police officers investigating the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 14-225

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must give their name and address to any person involved in the accident or police officers investigating the accident.
Section 14-225

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver must not be drinking while driving, but the driver or passengers are permitted to be in possession of an opened and resealed container of an alcoholic beverage while the car is traveling on Connecticut roadways. This allows restaurant patrons to transport a partially consumed bottle of wine from the dining facility to their destination.
Section 30-21

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant.

In Connecticut, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.04% or higher.
Section 14-227a

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 14-227a

Liability Laws

Connecticut Dram Shop Law

Connecticut has a Dram Shop Law that specifies intoxicated persons under 21 years of age. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

Under Connecticut law, a person who sells alcohol to a minor is liable for personal injuries and property damaged caused by the intoxicated minor.

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is 120 days in the event of injury or property damage, and 180 days in the event of death. The maximum amount of recoverable compensation is $250,000.
Section 30-102

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Connecticut, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $20,000 per person
  • At least $40,000 for two or more people
  • $10,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 14-112

Connecticut Insurance Information

For information about insurance requirements, see the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Modified Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

In Connecticut, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.

If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident.

If the victim contributed 51% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Section 52-572h

Example of Modified Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence:Section 52-572h
Right of Way: Section 14-242
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 14-296aa

Connecticut's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Connecticut, the law requires car owners to purchase liability insurance. A victim of a car accident can file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For information about liability insurance, see the Connecticut Insurance Department website.

Statute of Limitations

Connecticut has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must file a lawsuit within two years following the accident or first discovery of the injury or property damage.

If the victim fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 52-584

Small Claims Courts

In Connecticut, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $5,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

To submit a claim in small claims court, visit the Connecticut State Judiciary website.

Connecticut Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Connecticut, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Sections 4-148 and 4-160


If Melissa, an engineer with the Stamford Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Stamford would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Stamford can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.

A government tort claim must be filed against the governmental agency responsible for the car accident within one year after the accident or first discovery of the injury or property damage.

Sections 4-148 and 4-160


State Government of Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Transportation

Connecticut General Assembly

Connecticut Code of Laws Website

Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

Governors Highway Safety Association

Connecticut Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

Print Friendly and PDF

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

> > Connecticut

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review: