The loss of a loved one is never easy. And it can be particularly painful when it is caused by the negligent or purposeful acts of another party. The loss caused by the death of a loved one can be devastating especially if the deceased supported a family. While there is nothing that can bring back a deceased loved one, pursuing a wrongful death claim will help you get the financial support and justice that you and the other surviving family members need. The person responsible for causing the death of your loved one, regardless of if the act was intentional or not, should be held accountable.
However, the state of Connecticut has strict laws in regards to what constitutes a wrongful death claim. Such claims require the assistance of an attorney and a deep understanding of the relevant statutes. Our team of highly skilled New Haven wrongful death lawyers at Aeton Law is fully prepared to provide you with the help you need during these trying times. We are committed to protecting the rights of surviving members dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one and ensuring that they receive maximum compensation.
If you are considering bringing a wrongful death claim in the state of Connecticut, get in touch with our experienced team at 860-785-2099 to schedule your free no-obligation consultation. A personal injury lawyer will discuss your claim and guide you on the best course of action.
- 1 How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Connecticut?
- 2 Who is Qualified to File A Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?
- 3 What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
- 4 Can Surviving Family Members File for Punitive Damages in Connecticut?
- 5 How is Negligence Proved in a Connecticut Wrongful Death Case?
- 6 How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?
- 7 Is there a time limit to file your wrongful death lawsuit in Connecticut?
- 8 What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
- 9 Get in Touch with a New Haven Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Connecticut?
The state law in Connecticut defines wrongful death as any negligent, willful, or wrongful act that leads to the death of another person. According to Connecticut Code section 52-555, a wrongful death claim is a claim for injuries that result in death. It is filed against an individual or entity whose negligent, willful, or wrongful acts caused injuries that led to the death of the deceased.
Given that the affected victim is no longer available to bring the claim for themselves, a qualified person representing the deceased person’s survivors and estate will bring the case to court.
Wrongful death can result from a wide range of incidents including medical malpractice, auto accidents, nursing home neglect, defective drugs and products, commercial transportation accidents, criminal acts, etc.
An effective way of determining whether you have a valid wrongful death claim is determining whether the deceased loved one would have had the grounds to pursue a personal injury claim if they had survived their injuries.
Who is Qualified to File A Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?
Each state has its own unique laws regarding wrongful death claims and while some states allow the surviving family members to file a wrongful death suit, this isn’t the case in Connecticut. Rather, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate is the only party empowered by law to file a wrongful death claim. This is the individual responsible for closing out the estate of the deceased now that the person is no longer around.
The administrator or executor is the person named in the deceased’s will as the one in charge of the estate. However, in cases where the deceased didn’t have a will or the named individual isn’t available to serve as a plaintiff, then the court will appoint an administrator or executor who will file a claim for wrongful death.
This means that the estate’s administrator or executor has to file a lawsuit on behalf of all interested parties, including:
- Immediate family members: These include the spouses, children, and adopted children of the deceased.
- Distant family members: These include siblings and grandparents. However, it is important to note they are not always entitled to receiving compensation. This only applies in cases where they were financially dependent on or had particular ties to the deceased person.
- Life partners or financial dependents: Any domestic partner that was financially dependent on the deceased person may be entitled to receiving compensation.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against an individual, multiple individuals, or companies at-fault or partially at-fault for the injuries that led to the death of the deceased.
What about government agencies and their employees?
It is important to note that government agencies are typically immune from lawsuits, including wrongful death suits. The law in the state of Connecticut grants state employees and officials immunity from liability when performing their duties and acting within the scope of their employment. However, this immunity doesn’t apply in incidents where they are found to have acted in a reckless or malicious manner.
On the other hand, municipal officials and employees do not enjoy the same level of immunity as their state counterparts. A lawsuit can be filed against a municipal employee or official for negligent acts when carrying out a government duty where there was a foreseeable imminent injury to an individual.
It is, therefore, important to consult an attorney to determine whether a government agency responsible for the wrongful death of your loved one is immune from all liability.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
A Connecticut wrongful death claim is meant to compensate the surviving members for financial losses and other damages resulting from the loss of a loved one. The law in the state doesn’t apply any specific damage caps to the amounts awarded. But, of course, the damages are limited to the direct costs resulting from the death.
With this in mind, the surviving family members can basically pursue three types of damages:
These are compensatory damages meant to cover financial losses incurred by the surviving family members as a result of the death of the deceased. These include medical expenses, funeral costs, the value of goods and services no longer provided by the deceased, etc.
These are damages that can’t be assigned any monetary value and are subjective in nature. Compensatory amounts awarded for non-economic damages are usually typically higher than the amount awarded for economic damages. These damages can include mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of care, protection or guidance, loss of consortium, pain and suffering underwent by the victim before their eventual death, etc.
Punitive damages are not always awarded in wrongful death cases. They are awarded in cases where the at-fault party acted in a reckless or deliberate manner causing the injuries which led to the death of the victim. Punitive damages are usually in place to punish wrongdoers and discourage the public from committing such acts in the future.
Even though no kind of compensation can replace your loved one, fair monetary compensation significantly helps to make the lives of the surviving family members much easier and allows them to cope better in the absence of their loved one.
Can Surviving Family Members File for Punitive Damages in Connecticut?
The state law in Connecticut allows the surviving family members to file for punitive damages through the deceased’s estate administrator or executor. This applies in cases where the loved one died as a result of the reckless or deliberate actions of the at-fault party. However, proving this can be particularly difficult, which explains why punitive damages are usually more challenging to get compared to the other two types of damages.
This is why it is crucial to have an experienced wrongful death attorney in your corner to help you determine whether your situation qualifies for punitive damages. Keep in mind that, in Connecticut, punitive damages are typically limited to your lawyer’s fees.
How is Negligence Proved in a Connecticut Wrongful Death Case?
As earlier mentioned, for one to have a valid wrongful death claim, the deceased person should have had the grounds to file a personal injury claim should they have survived their injuries. And in most states, including Connecticut, to have the grounds to file a personal injury, the victims must prove the following four elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
The plaintiff must show the court that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care in the given situation. For instance, a driver is expected to drive in a responsible manner.
Breach of Duty of Care
Next, the plaintiff must demonstrate how the defendant breached or violated this duty of care. This could be through a specific action or inaction when another reasonable person in the same situation would have acted appropriately. A breach of duty in our example can occur when a driver operates a vehicle while drunk.
The plaintiff must be able to prove that the death resulted from the defendant’s actions and not some other cause. For example, while a driver breaches his or her duty to others by drinking and driving, he/she cannot be held liable for the death of a pedestrian who accidentally slips and falls on the sidewalk.
The plaintiff has to prove that as a result of the injuries and subsequent death of the victim caused by the defendant, the victim and surviving family members suffered particular damages and losses compensable by law.
This basically means that for a death to qualify as wrongful death, first, it must have been caused by the negligent, deliberate, malicious, or reckless acts of another party, and secondly, it must have caused the surviving family members financial, mental, and emotional suffering as well as measurable damages.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in the state of Connecticut, there are a number of steps that you will need to take:
- Speak with a New Haven wrongful death attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim.
- Furnish your attorney with proof of death of your loved one including a death certificate and other evidence of the death.
- Provide proof that the deceased person would have pursued a personal injury claim if they were still alive.
An attorney will be crucial to the outcome of your case. They will:
- Investigate the wrongful death and its unique circumstances. This investigation will help form the basis of all future negotiations and lawsuits.
- Negotiate with the insurance company. In most cases, the at-fault parties and their insurance companies will want to settle. Your attorney will negotiate fair compensation for you and your family. They will fight aggressively to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Take your case to trial. If a favorable agreement isn’t reached during the negotiations, your attorney will bring a suit in court. They will handle the filings and preparation of legal documents. They will also provide professional legal representation in court.
Is there a time limit to file your wrongful death lawsuit in Connecticut?
Yes, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in the state of Connecticut is two years from the date of the death. While there are exceptions to this rule, especially in cases where the discovery of fault is made later on in the process, it is always advisable to take action as early as possible.
What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a claim filed by the deceased’s estate meant to recover damages based on the value of the full life of the deceased. It can include tangible losses such as loss of earnings and intangible losses such as loss of love.
On the other hand, an estate claim isn’t based on the value of the life of the departed. It primarily seeks to pursue monetary damages related to the death such as funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, etc. It can also pursue compensation for pain and suffering endured by the deceased for the period between the date of injuries and eventual death.
Get in Touch with a New Haven Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Losing a loved one due to the acts of another party is one of the most tragic and painful life experiences. During this time of grief, the last thing you want is to worry about dealing with the long and stressful legal process of filing a wrongful death claim. However, obtaining the financial support owed to you is very important when it comes to helping your family recover, move on, and cope in the absence of your loved one.
Here at Aeton Law, we care about you and your family, and we are prepared to provide you with all the assistance you need during these trying times. The loss created by the unexpected death of a loved one is immeasurable. This is why we won’t settle until you and your family get the maximum compensation owed to you. Get in touch with our team today at 860-785-2099 to schedule your free consultation.