The emotional and agonizing experience of losing a loved one is intensified when the death is the result of someone else's carelessness or recklessness. You may feel anger and want to hold those responsible for the death accountable in order to prevent others from experiencing the same fate. You may be struggling to determine how you and other survivors will support yourselves or make up for financial losses and expenses caused by your loved one's passing. 

You may be a family member who has searched online about wrongful death lawsuits and wishes to learn more about how they work. Although no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit seeks monetary compensation from the negligent individual or entity responsible for the victim's death. An experienced Connecticut wrongful death attorney can represent you and your family in a claim for wrongful death.

At the law office of Brandon J. Broderick, every case is approached with compassion and empathy. Our Connecticut wrongful death law firm understands what it takes to build a strong case and will litigate your claim aggressively to secure the compensation to which you and your family are entitled. We are one of the most highly regarded personal injury law firms in Connecticut due to our compassionate client care and straightforward approach. You can concentrate on your family and recovery while we fight for the best possible outcome.

In the remaining portion of this article, we will provide a digestible summary of the following information regarding wrongful death lawsuits in Connecticut:

Brandon J. Broderick, CT Wrongful Death Attorneys are Here for You 24/7

By your side.

Survivors of a loved one who passes away in an accident or in an incident that should have never happened in the first place frequently feel angry, frustrated, and anxious. When assisting clients in wrongful death cases, the lawyers at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law place a high value on communication, client care, and empathy. You can count on us to be by your side throughout the entire process.

Expert negotiators and trial attorneys

In order to establish the other party's negligence, Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law will construct your case by assembling evidence, speaking with witnesses, and consulting with experts. Our law firm relieves you of this tedious burden by taking care of the details and negotiations with the at-fault party, insurance company, and others, allowing you to focus on what really matters. Additionally, we will not think twice about going to court to win the case if an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation.

You are entitled to financial compensation for your loss.

If a family member was killed in an accident caused by negligence, you are entitled to compensation. In addition to your grief, you may be experiencing severe financial strain due to your mounting losses and expenses. Avoid proceeding alone. Our empathetic wrongful death attorneys will pursue the highest possible compensation for your losses.

We provide free, confidential legal consultations to get a better understanding of your situation and to discuss all available legal options that you will have moving forward. If you decide to proceed, we will work on a contingency basis, meaning we will only be paid if you receive a settlement. Once they make that initial phone call to us, many of our clients experience a sense of relief.

Wrongful Death: What Is It?

When an individual is killed as a result of another person's or entity's negligence, recklessness, or violent behavior, a wrongful death claim may be filed. It is crucial to keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action rather than a state-level criminal investigation. A single person or entity may be the target of both a criminal investigation and a civil wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death case, the victim's family is given financial compensation, whereas in a criminal case, the defendant may face jail time or probation.

There are a number of circumstances in which negligence can result in the death of an individual due to an accident or illness.

Typical situations in wrongful death lawsuits include the following:

Every situation is different, and the appropriate party depends on the facts. For instance, the negligent driver may be held accountable for a car accident. Another possibility is that an employee might die as a result of a company's disregard for safety procedures. These scenarios are merely illustrations. You may be able to file a wrongful death claim if the death of a family member or loved one was the result of another party's negligence.

In Connecticut, Who May Bring a Claim For Wrongful Death?

Every state has different laws involving who can bring a wrongful death claim and what compensation is available. In accordance with Section 52-555 of the Connecticut General Statutes, only the decedent’s executor (also referred to as an “administrator” or “personal representative”) is permitted to file a claim for wrongful death.

Under Section 52-555, the damages an executor can recover are those suffered by the victim, not the victim’s family members. Connecticut law also allows a spouse or civil partner to bring a claim for the wrongful death of the other spouse or partner. This action is known as a loss of consortium claim.

“Loss of consortium” is a legal term for the various losses associated with the death of a spouse. Connecticut General Statutes § 52-555(b) define the loss of consortium damages recoverable by a spouse as follows:

  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of affection
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of sexual relations

How Do You Determine the Executor of a Wrongful Death Victim?

The first place to look for the executor of a victim of wrongful death is in the victim's will. If the victim had prepared an estate plan, this individual should be designated in his or her will. If the victim did not prepare an estate plan or if the victim's will is silent or out of date regarding the designation of an executor, then an executor must be appointed through the probate process. When this is required, the probate court will typically appoint the victim's spouse, adult child, or another close relative, unless there is a compelling reason to designate someone else.

Settlements and Compensation in Connecticut Wrongful Death Cases

Since Connecticut law only allows the victim's executor to file a wrongful death claim (with the exception of a surviving spouse's claim for loss of consortium), how do family members pursue compensation when they lose a loved one due to someone else's negligence or neglect? If the executor's claim for wrongful death is successful, the awarded compensation is added to the victim's estate. A person's estate consists of the entirety of the assets he or she leaves behind after death. Once the unlawful death award has been deposited with the estate, it is then distributed to the victim's family members in accordance with the victim's will.

The distribution of unlawful death compensation to eligible family members can present a number of challenges, despite the apparent simplicity of the concept. In many instances, estate plans do not account for the distribution of unanticipated damage awards. If an estate plan is silent regarding the distribution of a particular asset, that asset may be distributed in accordance with the general provisions of the victim's will or according to Connecticut's intestate succession laws. In addition, many victims of wrongful death are unable to establish an estate plan prior to their passing. Many individuals put off establishing an estate plan until later in their lives. When a person dies without a will (or with a will that leaves certain assets unaddressed), Connecticut's intestate succession laws apply.

In the absence of a will, trust, or other estate planning documents, these statutes determine which family members are eligible to receive an individual's estate assets. A complicated legal analysis is required to determine which family members are eligible to receive a portion of an intestate estate. In spite of this, victims frequently have estate plans that provide adequate guidance. In such instances, once the estate receives a wrongful death award, it is distributed to the victim's designated family members during the administration of the estate.

A Wrongful Death Claim: What Is It?

A wrongful death lawsuit provides compensation for ‘economic’ damages like any medical bills associated with the accident or funeral costs, as well as ‘non-economic’ damages for intangible damages like the loss of parental guidance in the event of a parent’s death. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a spouse or loved one, the untimely death of a loved one can result in a substantial financial burden.

Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit in Connecticut may include:

  • Hospital and medical expenses related to accident
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income and loss of deceased person’s expected lifetime income
  • Lost health and insurance benefits
  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of parental guidance

A wrongful death claim will seek compensation for the loss of essential household services like cleaning, child care, and other chores if your loved one was the primary caregiver and did not have a job outside the home.

As a matter of course, work-related deaths are handled under the Connecticut Workers Compensation Commission. In Connecticut, the surviving spouse and children of a deceased worker are eligible for death benefits. If there are no dependents, up to 312 weeks of benefits will be paid to those who were dependent on the deceased worker.

In addition, as of January 1, 2019, Connecticut families can receive up to 75 percent of the deceased worker's average weekly wage, with a weekly benefit cap of $1,256. The minimal benefit limit is equal to the weekly TTD minimum.

Special Session Public Act No. 21-2 amended Section 31-306 of the Workers’ Compensation Act to increase the burial expense compensation from four thousand to twelve thousand dollars and adjust the compensation rate annually based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) in the northeast, with no seasonal adjustment, as calculated by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Connecticut, death benefits can be paid indefinitely. However, benefits can be terminated if the surviving spouse dies or remarries, and benefits for surviving children end at age 18 (or 22 if the child is still in school; benefits continue if the child is disabled).

What if your loved one’s work-related death was caused by the negligence of a third party or the employer? In some cases, it may be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a third-party, like a general contractor, subcontractor, or negligent equipment manufacturer. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against an employer is very challenging, but in cases of egregious or systemic negligence, you may have a case. 

If your loved one died in a work-related accident, contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss your options. At Brandon J. Broderick, we specialize in both personal injury and workers compensation and have the experience to help you navigate the process. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

Punitive Damages in a Case of Wrongful Death

Punitive damages are usually only awarded in situations where the most careless and intentionally negligent behavior occurred. They are intended to stop similar harm or injuries from happening to others in the future. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to establish that the defendant is accountable for punitive damages in the lawsuit. In order to receive punitive damages, you must provide "clear and convincing evidence" of either extreme recklessness or malice.

A claim for punitive damages may be made in the following situations:

  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Intentional malice
  • Oppression
  • Fraud
  • Criminal acts or specific intent to cause harm

In Connecticut, punitive damages can only include the amount of money that you have spent on the litigation process.

How Can Wrongful Death Be Proven?

In a criminal case, the prosecutor must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but this is not the case when proving wrongful death. Claims for wrongful death are civil cases, and they are typically established through the legal concept of negligence. The following must be proven in your case to establish liability for wrongful death:

Duty of Care. According to legal definitions, duty of care denotes an obligation on the part of the negligent party to take reasonable precautions to protect your loved one from harm. Property owners, for instance, have a responsibility to keep their properties reasonably safe and risk-free by providing adequate building security and keeping the premises clear of dangers like sharp concrete or slick, wet floors. Drivers have a responsibility to exercise reasonable caution and obey the law when operating a vehicle. Doctors, healthcare systems, and other medical personnel owe a duty of care to their patients.

Breach of Duty. In this element of proving negligence, you must prove that the at-fault party breached the duty of care owed to the victim. Given the circumstances and knowledge that the defendant had at the time, you need to show that they would have known that someone might be injured or die as a result of his or her actions. For instance, drivers are aware that it is dangerous to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. To protect their customers and employees, business owners are aware of (or should be aware of) the need to adhere to certain safety guidelines.

Causation. Simply put, you must demonstrate that the breach of the duty of care caused the death of the victim. Using the same examples, a driver who had been drinking got behind the wheel and struck and killed a pedestrian.

What Takes Place During a Wrongful Death Case?

Similar to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim commences well in advance of the filing of a lawsuit. A wrongful death attorney will initially review the available evidence, which may include medical records, police reports, witness statements, electronic evidence, and interviews with family members. In addition, your attorney may require time to build a case and collect or create additional evidence to support your claim.

After establishing the key elements of a wrongful death case, a Connecticut wrongful death attorney will send a demand letter in an effort to obtain compensation. At this stage, the demand letter will request monetary compensation in exchange for not filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The majority of wrongful death cases are settled rather than litigated in court. The demand letter may be sufficient to settle the case.

In the event that the party at fault refuses to comply with the demands, a lawsuit is filed. The defendant must then respond to the complaint or risk being found liable for failure to respond. Otherwise, the process of discovery begins when the case enters into negotiations, which occur continuously as evidence is uncovered and the case's specifics become apparent. If a settlement is still not reached, the case would proceed to a civil trial before a judge or jury, who would determine if the defendant is at fault and the amount of compensation to be awarded.

What is the Connecticut Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?

The Connecticut statute of limitations for wrongful death is located in Section 52-555 of the Connecticut General Assembly. According to this rule, any lawsuit for injuries resulting in death must be initiated within two years of the decedent's passing. No action may be brought more than five years after the act or omission that is the subject of the complaint, regardless of the date of death.

This means that no claim may be filed beyond five years after the date of the wrongful act, even if an exception to the two-year statute of limitations exists.

It is very important to get in touch with a Connecticut wrongful death law firm as soon as possible. Witness recollections fade or physical evidence may disappear, and the process for seeking compensation starts well before the lawsuit is actually filed. You want to avoid losing your right to file a claim permanently.

Deadline exceptions

Although exceptions to the statute of limitations are uncommon in Connecticut, they do exist. One exception is if a criminal case, such as a homicide or manslaughter case, has been launched against the same individual for the death of the individual. If the defendant is found guilty (or not guilty by reason of insanity) in this case, a wrongful death claim may be filed at any time, even if it is more than two years after the decedent's death.

The discovery rule exemption may also apply to your lawsuit for unlawful death. The claimant has two years from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit if the negligent act or wrongdoing was not immediately discovered. In Connecticut, a claim for wrongful death cannot be filed more than five years after the cause of action arose.

FAQs Regarding Connecticut Wrongful Death Cases

Who receives the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?

In Connecticut, the spouse, civil partner, and surviving children may receive a portion of a settlement for wrongful death. The precise distribution depends on the number of survivors. The spouse always receives a portion of the settlement, while children and parents may also receive a portion, depending on which members of the victim's family survive. It’s important to note that a settlement from a wrongful death claim does not have to follow the directives of the deceased’s will; however, settlement amounts related to a survivor claim do go to the deceased’s estate and follow the will’s distribution.

What type of crime is wrongful death in CT?

In a civil action for wrongful death, the family or estate of a deceased person sues the party they believe to be at fault for monetary compensation related to their loss. As opposed to a criminal prosecution for murder or manslaughter, wrongful death is not a criminal offense. A defendant can be sued for wrongful death AND face criminal prosecution.

How much does it cost to hire a CT wrongful death attorney?

Generally, wrongful death law firms operate on a contingency basis, which means they only collect a fee if the case or claim is successful and a settlement is awarded. The attorney fees are then deducted from the total amount of the settlement. In many instances, wrongful death attorneys are able to secure settlement amounts that are significantly higher than what the insurance company will offer you if you do not have representation.

What if my loved one was killed while at work?

The Connecticut workers compensation system allows for death benefits in the event of a fatal work-related accident. Workers compensation is a no-fault system, which means that death benefits can be collected by surviving family members regardless of who’s fault it was that the accident occurred. That being said, some workplace accidents are due to a faulty part, machine, or other scenario in which a third-party (someone other than the employer) could hold liability. Each case is unique, and your best option is to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can advise you of your legal options.

How long does it take in Connecticut to settle a wrongful death case?

In cases where liability is unmistakable, wrongful death claims may be settled in as little as a few months. In situations where negligence is more difficult to establish or the potential for a large claim value exists, a wrongful death case may require a year or more to be resolved. Do not let the timeframe deter you from seeking justice and compensation for your loss.

Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law: Peace of Mind for You, Justice for Your Loved One

At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we have decades of experience championing for our clients and succeeding, even when other attorneys say there is no case. Our compassionate client care and honest, straight-forward approach help to make us one of the top-rated law firms in Connecticut. We fight for your best interests, so you can focus on what really matters. 

We’ve helped people just like you move forward after devastating events caused by someone else’s negligence. Our wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront and we only get paid if you win. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you in any way that we can.

We have offices in numerous Connecticut locations, including Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Stamford, and Waterbury. Wherever you are in Connecticut, our compassionate, experienced wrongful death attorneys will travel to you. Call (877) 640-5611

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