In Connecticut, a court can award double or triple damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in certain circumstances. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant deliberately or with reckless disregard drove a vehicle in violation of a law and that this violation was a substantial factor in causing the injury or death.
The Connecticut Supreme Court, in 1984, first ruled that the law allowing double or treble damages in personal injury lawsuits can apply in a wrongful death case. In other words, the family or the administrator of the deceased victim’s estate have the same rights to relief in a lawsuit as if the victim of the crash survived and was the plaintiff in that action.
Actions that are deliberate or involve reckless disregard are types of conduct that exceed negligence. This behavior must involve reckless disregard of another person’s rights or safety or a disregard of the consequences of the defendant’s actions. It must take on the aspect of highly unreasonable conduct.
Double or triple damages involve violations of Connecticut laws against traveling unreasonably fast, speeding, reckless driving, failure to drive in the right-hand lane, no passing zones, driving on divided highways and one-way streets. Not surprisingly, driving under the influence may constute grounds for these damages.
The award of just and reasonable damages may be multiplied by two or three where reckless disregard is proven. Moreover, the owner of the vehicle driven by the defendant driver, such as a rent-a-car company, can be held liable for these damages.
A family that suffers the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident may be entitled to damages. Prompt legal advice should be sought to help determine liability and whether the plaintiff engaged in any reckless disregard that was a factor in the accident.
Source: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, “3.4-2 Damages-Double or Treble,” Assessed Feb. 22, 2015