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What You Need to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut

November 16, 2023Articles

Every death feels wrong to loved ones left behind, but legally, a death is a wrongful death in Connecticut if it was a preventable death that occurred due to someone else’s fault. When negligence, reckless actions, or purposeful wrongdoing causes a fatality, the party at fault is responsible for the harm done to the victim and their surviving family members.

Knowing that a loved one’s death could have been prevented if only someone else had taken reasonable care causes overwhelming anguish. A Connecticut wrongful death claim holds the at-fault party accountable and provides compensation for close family members by awarding damages directly to the victim’s estate.

Liability in Connecticut Wrongful Death Claims

A successful claim for wrongful death in Connecticut depends on the circumstances of the victim’s death. If the death resulted directly from another party’s actions or negligence, the death is wrongful as long as it meets the legal tenets of liability. Proving liability for a wrongful death requires demonstrating the following:

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury and death
  • They breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
  • The breach of duty directly caused the death
  • The decedent’s estate sustained damages due to the death

If the death was caused by an intentional act such as battery, the plaintiff (representative of the decedent) must prove that the defendant intentionally acted in a manner to cause harm and that the victim died due to the harm.

Essentially, if the deceased individual could have filed a personal injury lawsuit if they’d survived their injury, then the death qualifies as a wrongful death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?

Like most states, Connecticut places a limit on who may file a wrongful death claim. This ensures that distant family members don’t exploit the death by attempting to profit from a passing that didn’t impact them financially. While many states allow a close family member like a spouse, parent, or adult child to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Connecticut limits this to the executor of the decedent’s estate. If a person dies without a will or estate plan that names an executor, the probate court in Connecticut appoints a representative—typically a close family member like a spouse, parent, or child. The representative files a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

Only an Executor of the Decendent's Estate Can File a Wrongful Death Claim.

Damages in Connecticut Wrongful Death Claims

When a wrongful death case awards the victim’s estate “damages,” the at-fault party is accountable for the victim’s financial losses. Typically, compensation for the damages comes from the liable party’s insurance—like auto insurance in a car accident or property liability insurance in a slip-and-fall accident. Common damages awarded in Connecticut wrongful death claims include the following:

  • The decedent’s lost earnings and lost future earning capacity for the working years they had remaining
  • Lost retirement and pension plan benefits
  • Medical expenses incurred before the death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of the ability to enjoy a full lifespan of activities
  • Pain and suffering experienced before death

If the representative in the wrongful death claim is a spouse, they may also recover compensation for loss of consortium, or the loss of companionship, emotional support, and the full physical and emotional relationship with a loved one. Damages are paid directly to the decedent’s estate and then passed on to beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. If no will exists, Connecticut’s intestacy laws apply.

In cases of egregious conduct resulting in wrongful death, Connecticut courts may triple the value of the damages in the wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim proceeds independently of any criminal charges for the death.