WRONGFUL DEATH CASES IN CONNECTICUT
In Connecticut, claims against those that have caused a death are unlike any other type of personal injury case. These types of cases are unique and require a Connecticut personal injury attorney to have experience dealing with the complexity of a “death case.”
Unlike other personal injury actions, Connecticut has a specific law that permits the family of someone who has died in an accident to recover from the responsible party. This is called Connecticut’s “Wrongful Death” statute. The statute is necessary because prior to Connecticut adopting this law a family could not “recover” damages for the death of a loved one. This is because Connecticut, like most states, considered the right of action to expire when the victim died.
However, in 1969 Connecticut adopted the current version of the Wrongful Death statute. It states:
Sec. 52-555. Actions for injuries resulting in death. (a) In any action surviving to or brought by an executor or administrator for injuries resulting in death, whether instantaneous or otherwise, such executor or administrator may recover from the party legally at fault for such injuries just damages together with the cost of reasonably necessary medical, hospital and nursing services, and including funeral expenses, provided no action shall be brought to recover such damages and disbursements but within two years from the date of death, and except that no such action may be brought more than five years from the date of the act or omission complained of.
ATTORNEYS WITH EXPERIENCE HANDLING COMPLEX WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
The law sets forth special procedures that must be followed in both Probate Court and Superior Court in order to bring a claim for wrongful death in Connecticut. A Connecticut attorney with experience in wrongful death lawsuits will help you navigate both Probate Court and Superior Court.
First, for anyone to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a victim, the Connecticut Probate Court where your loved one lived upon death must appoint an executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased. If the deceased person has a Will, then the Will may state who should be appointed. If the victim of a wrongful death does not have a Will, then the Probate Court will appoint a person to “administer” the estate. This person can be a family member, lawyer, or another trusted person. The wrongful death attorneys at Aeton Law will help you file the proper paper work to start the process in Probate Court and sometimes may handle the probate work for a no additional charge.
Second, because a Connecticut wrongful death case is permitted by statute, then your attorney must file the matter properly in Connecticut Superior Court.
The Probate Court filings are done first. Then, if it is necessary to file a lawsuit, the matter is handled in Superior Court. When the matter settles or there is an award by a jury, the matter then returns to the Connecticut Probate Court to finalize the estate.
WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS
If your loved one was a resident of Cromwell, Connecticut and was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident on Interstate 84 in Vernon, Connecticut, then your attorney will file an application with the Middletown Probate Court. The Middletown Probate Court will then appoint an administrator or executor to handle the affairs of the estate.
If a lawsuit must be commenced, then your attorney will have to determine which superior court the case needs to be filed in. This is based on where the victim lived at the time of the death. In the above case, your wrongful death attorney will have to decide whether to bring the case in Hartford Superior Court or Superior Court in Middletown. If your loved one lived in Newington at the time of death, then your attorney would have to determine whether the lawsuit should be brought in Hartford or New Britain.
TIME LIMITATIONS IN CONNECTICUT WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
The Connecticut Wrongful Death statute has two different time limits. The first is a “statute of limitations” which starts to run as soon as the death occurs. For example, if your loved one is killed in an accident in New Haven on January 1, 2018, then the estate has to commence a lawsuit in superior court for wrongful death by January 1, 2020.
The second time limitation is referred to as a five year “statute of repose.” Essentially the Connecticut Wrongful Death Statute states that regardless of when the person dies after the accident, a lawsuit may not be brought more than five years after the accident. For example, if your loved one is involved in an accident in Southington, Connecticut, and dies more than five years after the accident from injuries received because of it, then the estate may not bring a claim for wrongful death. If your loved one dies four years after the accident that lead to the death, then the estate would have only one year to bring the claim, not two.
CONNECTICUT WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS
The devastation that comes with losing a loved on in an accident can make it very difficult to navigate all that comes with making a wrongful death claim. If you have a loved one that has been killed in an accident, call the personal injury attorneys at Aeton Law to discuss how we might be able to help.