Seeking compensation for the death of a family member is only a partial remedy that can lessen any financial loss. The wrongful death legal process is often lengthy and complex and requires expertise to navigate.
Families who suffer the loss of a loved one because of another person's negligence or reckless behavior may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Connecticut. Serving in a dangerous occupation, such as a first-responder, does not foreclose these lawsuits.
In a wrongful death case involving complex constitutional and medical issues, a Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled that a Stamford physician may be sued for allegedly causing the death of a 2-hour-old baby while removing an intrauterine device from the mother. The legal issue was whether the 22-week-old baby -- who was born alive -- may be considered a plaintiff in this lawsuit.
Family members can suffer the loss of a loved one in any number of circumstances including a fatal workplace accident. A particularly catastrophic example occurred on Feb. 7, 2010 with the Middletown natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant. The blast occurring during construction and led to earthquake-like tremors that were felt 10 miles away. Six men were killed.
Incalculable acts of negligence can lead to a fatality and a wrongful death action in Connecticut. One example recently occurred where a jury in Hartford awarded $3 million to a Torrington man's estate and his widow for medical malpractice because insufficient attention was paid to his test results.
The circumstances that give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit can vary widely. Negligence may take lives in surgery, in a drunk driving accident, at an unsafe workplace, in a boating accident, during roadside construction or even on a playground. Unsafe equipment, defective drugs or a driver texting instead of watching the road are among the many causes of death that might lead to legal action.
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.
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.
Connecticut traffic fatalities in may also involve other causes besides driver negligence or recklessness. Manufacturers may also be liable for wrongful death in car accidents. The federal government holds an important role in helping to determine whether a vehicle has flaws that played a role in these accidents
Surviving relatives of a victim of medical malpractice may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable health care practitioner and facility. Connecticut law sets forth the burden of proving the elements of this cause of action.