Can a child sue for loss of affection and anguish?


Children of a person who is killed or injured by the negligence or recklessness of another person may file a personal injury or wrongful death action in Connecticut. Children can seek economic damages in these types of cases, such as loss of support for living expenses and education.

Until very recently, however, courts in Connecticut did not allow children of an injured victim to pursue a cause of action for loss of parental consortium. This arises when a person causes injuries to the parent of a minor child which result in the loss of the parent's love, care, companionship and guidance.

Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court partially reversed this doctrine and one of its earlier opinions in a wrongful death and negligence case filed on behalf of children of a parent who was killed by a vehicle while the parent was riding his bicycle. It ruled that the minor children of this victim could file for loss of consortium for this fatal pedestrian accident. Until this decision, Connecticut was only one of five states which did not allow this cause of action arising from injury or death of a parent.

However, the Court imposed some restrictions. First, it limited liability to damages arising from injury to the parent during the parent's life and did not allow the award of damages arising from the parent's death. The loss of consortium award is also available only to the children while they are minors.

The Court limited its holding to this case and to other pending lawsuits. It did not grant this award where judgment for injuries was concluded through a court judgment or settlement, or if the statute of limitations limiting the time a lawsuit may be filed has run out.

While a monetary award may be a relatively insignificant substitute for the loss of a parent's guidance and affection, it constitutes the only workable solution in the Connecticut legal system to ease the child's tragic loss. This award may also be used to pay for domestic services and counseling for the child.

The Supreme Court ruling could ultimately lead to changes to other longstanding court doctrine in this area. Fair and just compensation may be pursued in pedestrian accidents or other personal injury lawsuits.

Source: Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Campos v. Coleman, SC 19195 (Ct. Sup. Ct. Oct. 6, 2015)," Accessed Nov. 2, 2015

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