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Does Connecticut remarriage end wrongful death survivor damages?

In Connecticut, surviving family members of a decedent killed by another person's negligent or reckless conduct can seek just damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation is awarded to the decedent's estate for distribution to family members. These damages include reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses, compensation for ending the decedent's capacity to enjoy life, payment for conscious pain and suffering, compensation for the death itself and payment of the value of the decedent's lost earning capacity minus deductions for living expenses and consideration that a present cash payment will be made.

A wrongful death action is treated, under the law, as an action filed for the decedent for the wrong inflicted. In other words, the wrongful death is a continuance of the cause of action that decedents could file for the acts that led to their death and the losses that the decedent suffered through those acts.

Therefore, Connecticut does not foreclose the award of damages to a decedent's spouse, if the spouse had remarried by the time of the wrongful death trial. The spouse's remarriage has no relationship to any just damages that may be recovered by the spouse.

The Connecticut Supreme Court, in fact, ruled that a defendant in a wrongful death case could not present evidence of the surviving spouse's remarriage. This evidence could prejudice the jury's emotional outlook and has no relevance to the issues that it has to decide, according to the Court.

Families who suffered the loss of a loved one through someone else's negligence or reckless behavior may be entitled to compensation under a wrongful death action. Prompt legal advice should be sought to assure that the right to these damages is not lost.

Source: Leagle.com, "Sanderson v. Steve Snyder Enterprises, Inc., (1985)," accessed on April 15, 2015

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