The loss of a loved one is arguably one of the most challenging life circumstances someone may face. While death is certainly a part of life, an unnatural death that was preventable can hit especially hard. Families who are missing loved ones due to avoidable deaths have legal rights and options. It’s in their best interests to meet with a wrongful death attorney to learn more about what steps they can take. Connecticut law governs who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, what damages might be available to them, and how long they have to file such a suit.
Wrongful death claims are limited by Connecticut law, and they must be filed in a representative capacity on behalf of the deceased individual’s estate. Furthermore, the Connecticut wrongful death law isn’t survivor-based. As such, the deceased’s estate can take action to hold wrongdoers accountable for causing the death. To learn more, reach out to a Bridgeport personal injury attorney at Bert McDowell Injury Law. A capable Bridgeport wrongful death attorney is prepared to seek justice for your loss.
What Warrants a Wrongful Death Claim?
Any negligent, intentional, or wrongful act of another person or party that results in the death of an individual is classified as wrongful death. As in most states, wrongful death happens in our state when someone loses their life due to the legal fault of another person or party, including by:
- A negligence-based incident—for example, a car accident
- Medical malpractice
- An intentional act—including crimes
A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Bridgeport could investigate the circumstances of a case to determine if another party is responsible for the untimely death of your loved one.
Circumstances Resulting in Wrongful Death Claims
The wrongful death statute provides financial recovery to the relatives of an individual whose death is considered wrongful. Examples of specific circumstances resulting in a wrongful or accidental death lawsuit in Connecticut include:
- Consumer product liability: Defective and potentially hazardous products sold to consumers can cause deaths and lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Criminal act: An individual who commits an intentional or unintentional crime, resulting in the death of another, can face a civil liability. As previously stated, these cases are tried separately from homicide or manslaughter criminal cases.
- Hazardous work conditions: Employees should feel safe in their work environments. Even still, wrongful death claims in Connecticut can directly arise from workplace exposure to asbestos or hazardous chemicals or working with dangerous machinery and unsafe equipment, as well as other circumstances.
- Medical malpractice: When medical professionals or medical facilities don’t give patients with the correct standard of care that they should, they can be held liable for the resulting death and damages. For instance, a medical malpractice case arising from a wrong dose of medication or a failure to diagnose could turn give rise civil liability under the wrongful death statute.
- Motor vehicle and airplane accidents: Automobile, train, bus, airplane, or other common carrier accidents can lead to wrongful death cases if the negligent party was operating the vehicle recklessly, with or without the impairment of alcohol or drugs. Even if another individual didn’t specifically cause the accident, a skillful wrongful death lawyer can investigate to determine whether a wrongful death case could succeed if the vehicle or common carrier was defective.
- Nursing home abuse or negligence: Nursing homes can be held liable for neglect or abuse resulting in the death of a patient.
- Supervised extracurricular activities: Some claims involve victims who died while participating in activities supervised by other individuals expected to provide proper medical and common-sense precautions to keep those entrusted in their care safe. This includes high school and college athletes who die during organized training sessions or games or a child who dies on a field trip.
Whatever the circumstances might be, it’s best to discuss it with a seasoned Bridgeport wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have a valid claim based on the loss of a loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Bridgeport?
Unlike other types of personal injury cases, the injured individual in a wrongful death case (the deceased) isn’t around to seek compensation from the person or party that caused their injury. Another party is needed to bring the matter to court on behalf of the survivors and estate.
Some states allow the deceased’s family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, only the executor or administrator of the dead person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim in Connecticut.
If the victim passed away without an estate plan, such as a will naming an executor or administrator of the estate, or if that person can’t serve, the court will appoint an executor or administrator. They are responsible for taking care of the business of the estate, as well as pursuing any wrongful death claims.
It can be beneficial to meet with a wrongful death lawyer after the death of a loved one to determine who might be able to file a wrongful death case.
Criminal Charges vs. Wrongful Death Civil Claims
It should be noted that a civil claim is different from a criminal homicide case or another type of criminal legal case involving someone’s death. In criminal cases, a conviction can lead to jail or prison time, fines owed to the state, probation, community service, and other penalties.
A wrongful death claim and a criminal case can run concurrently, but they are separate. The outcome of one doesn’t impact the outcome of another. Although, sometimes, a criminal conviction can indicate that a civil claim will be successful. This is because the standard of proof in a civil claim is much lower than that in a criminal case. In a criminal case, guilt must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, in a civil case, liability must be shown only “by a preponderance of the evidence,” or that it’s more likely than not that the accused party is liable for the death.
The existence or lack of a criminal charge or conviction has no bearing on whether or not you can file a civil case. Always speak to a Bridgeport wrongful death attorney at a reputable law firm about your rights and any questions you might have.
Wrongful Death Claim Damages
The purpose of a Connecticut wrongful death lawsuit is to get the court to order the liable party to pay “damages”—or the claimed losses in the case—to the deceased person’s estate. The court determines the number of damages based on multiple types of losses, including:
- The victim’s lost earning capacity
- The loss of his or her ability to carry on and enjoy life’s activities
- The conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person before they died
- Any reasonably necessary medical, hospital, and nursing expenses related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium—including the loss of society, affection, moral support, and companionship that the decedent would have provided to their surviving spouse had they not died
Claims brought under the wrongful death statute provide for the recovery of damages arising from the:
- Loss of life itself
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- If applicable, any pre-death physical pain and suffering
- Reasonably necessary medical, hospital, and other healthcare costs
- Funeral expenses
When Should You Talk to a Bridgeport Wrongful Death Attorney?
Waiting to contact an experienced Bridgeport wrongful death attorney can be of detriment to your claim. The more time passes, the more likely it is that the valuable evidence supporting your claim can be lost or damaged. The law also only gives potential claimants a specified amount of time to file a wrongful death case. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. For wrongful death claims in Connecticut, the case has to be filed within two years of the date of the individual’s death. However, no wrongful death claim can be filed after more than five years from the date of the action that caused the individual’s death.
It’s worth noting, however, that a wrongful death claim can be brought at any time if the individual who caused the death was, as a result of the death, convicted of or found not guilty because of mental disease or defect for any of the following crimes:
- Murder with special circumstances
- Felony murder
- Arson murder
- Manslaughter in the first degree
- Manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm
Don’t jeopardize your wrongful death claim or loss your right to compensation. Instead, make it a point to talk to a well-versed wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible about your loved one’s death.
Contact a Compassionate Bridgeport Wrongful Death Law Firm for Help
We know this is a difficult time for you and your family. Please accept our sincerest condolences on the loss of your loved one. We want you to know that we will be here for you every step of the way. When you contact us, we do everything we can to make the entire process easier for you.
Call Bert McDowell Injury Law today to schedule your no-obligation case consultation with a caring Bridgeport wrongful death attorney. We are available to speak with you anytime, or you may reach us online.