When a person dies because of the negligent acts, purposeful acts, or fault of another, the surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. In wrongful death claims, the family or estate is seeking compensation for the loss of their loved one, and any benefits they would have received if their loved one survived.
It is important to note that wrongful death claims in the state of Connecticut are involved. They do require the assistance of an attorney, and knowledge about the statutes. Connecticut, like most states, has strict laws regarding what constitutes a wrongful death and what does not.
A wrongful death claim occurs when a person dies due to the fault of another. While personal injury laws have been around for some time, the wrongful death lawsuit is relatively new. Over the last century, federal and state courts have both allowed for family members to bring wrongful death actions against those responsible for the untimely demise of a loved one.
Today, all states have some form of wrongful death statute in place – however, these statutes can vary greatly.
A wrongful death claim may involve an accident, complicated malpractice incident, or even a faulty product. Regardless, a person, company, or agency could be legally at fault if they were negligent and their negligence caused the death of another.
Under Connecticut Code Section 52-555, a wrongful death is a claim that arises from injuries resulting in death. Therefore, it is a personal injury case, but instead of filing a personal injury claim, the estate files a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.
The wrongful death claim is the most basic offered by the state, and it seeks damages based on the value of the life of the deceased.
The estate claim is filed by the estate and not based on the life of the deceased. Instead, the estate seeks monetary damages and can also request pain and suffering.
Some states allow surviving family members to file a wrongful death suit, but Connecticut does not. Instead, the executor or administrator of the estate must file the claim on behalf of loved ones.
If the deceased does not have an estate plan, then the executor or administrator is named by the court. After being named, this executor will be able to file the lawsuit.
If the estate’s representative files a lawsuit, they are filing the it on behalf all real parties of interest. These parties may include:
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against a vast array of individuals and companies. However, the parties listed in the suit must be responsible in some way for the death. For example, a motor vehicle accident involving a negligent semi-truck driver may involve parties like:
Typically, government agencies are immune from lawsuits. In a wrongful death case, the immunity does still apply, but an attorney can better assess if that agency is immune from all civil and criminal liability.
A wrongful death lawsuit serves two purposes. It compensates for the costs incurred by the deceased, and also compensates family members for their loss. While some states have damage caps, Connecticut does not. However, damages are limited to the direct costs associated with the death.
Economic damages include:
Remember that economic damages are there to make the family members financially whole. Of course, no amount of money could replace the loss of a loved one. While the courts realize this, they allow surviving family members to collect as much as possible to cover the costs that could cripple the family if they had to bear the burden alone.
Non-economic damages have no specified value. This means that you cannot hand over a receipt or statement proving these amounts. While intangible, they can be much higher than economic damages. Some examples of non-economic damages sought in a wrongful death case include:
Non-economic damages are difficult to prove. Typically, the damages here are based on the economic amounts and multiplied to make the value of the case fair. While money will never replace the love and companionship of the person who died, monetary compensation is the only means by which the courts can strive to assist the survivors.
Punitive damages are there to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to the rest of the public. Punitive damages are not typically awarded in a wrongful death case unless gross negligence or malicious intent played a role in the death.
The average price of a wrongful death settlement is complicated to calculate. There is no standard average, and no two cases will ever be the same. Therefore, the only way to find out how much your case is potentially worth is to speak with a wrongful death attorney.
Not all deaths qualify as wrongful deaths. As a civil lawsuit, the estate must prove two key elements:
Most importantly, you cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit unless the deceased would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, the four elements must equally be present:
Your attorney will help you gather evidence that your loved one would have used as grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. This evidence will then establish that the wrongful death claim is justified.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Connecticut requires a few steps.
You have limited time to file your lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations time has passed, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit or collecting compensation. Connecticut requires that you file your wrongful death claim within two years of the date of the death.
In some cases, the two-year mark can be stretched, especially if the discovery of fault is not made until later. However, it is always best to file your lawsuit within the two-year limitation, because the courts do not always recognize the extension.
After the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want to think about is money or filing a lawsuit. However, sometimes the monetary assistance can help you and family members move on, pay off the expenses associated with your loved one’s death, and get back on your feet.
While we understand no dollar amount will ever replace a loved one, our team at Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC wants to help you as much as we can. Our team cares about you and your family members, and we are here to advocate for your loved one that was taken from you prematurely because of someone’s negligence.
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.