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No one should lose their loved ones before their time. When another individual’s reckless or negligent actions are to blame, they must be held accountable. If you or one of your loved ones has been wrongfully killed, learn your legal options today by calling Loughlin FitzGerald, P.C. at (203) 265-2035. While we know that nothing can ever replace your family member, we hope to bring your family justice and solace during this difficult time with quality legal services.
Connecticut’s definition of wrongful death is a fatal injury caused by another party’s neglect, default or wrongful act. A wrongful death claim can be brought in Connecticut after a fatal negligence-based accident, intentional crime or wrongdoing, or medical malpractice.
A simple way to think about a wrongful death lawsuit is that you most likely have grounds to file this type of civil claim if the defendant would have been found liable during a personal injury claim – had your loved one survived the accident and been able to file one.
The burden of proof refers to an obligation that a party has to prove its allegations, such as the guilt of the accused for the crime or wrongdoing in question. The burden of proof changes depending on the type of case. In criminal law, for example, the burden of proof is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In civil law, however, it is the lesser burden of proof “based on a preponderance of the evidence.”
A preponderance of the evidence is clear and convincing evidence that establishes that there is at least a 51 percent chance that what the plaintiff is alleging is true. In a civil trial, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, meaning it is the filing party’s responsibility to prove that the defendant is at fault. It is up to you or your attorney to prove your case if you file a wrongful death claim in Connecticut.
Proving a wrongful death case generally requires evidence that the defendant owed the deceased individual a duty of care (a legal obligation to act in a reasonable and prudent manner), breached or violated this duty, and that this caused the decedent’s fatal injury. Unlike a criminal case, it is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to harm or kill your loved one to be eligible for financial compensation.
One of the most important laws to know if you believe you can file a wrongful death claim in Connecticut is the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a law that places a strict time limit on the ability to file a lawsuit. Every state has a different statute of limitations on wrongful death cases. If you plan on filing a lawsuit in Connecticut, the law requires you to do so within two years of the date of your loved one’s death.
With only a few exceptions, the courts will bar you and your family from financial recovery if you try to file outside of the two-year window. However, a wrongful death claim can be filed at any time in Connecticut if the cause of the death was a crime for which the defendant was convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity), such as murder, arson or manslaughter. Always contact an attorney as soon as possible after the unexpected loss of a loved one to make sure you file by your deadline.
In Connecticut, only the deceased’s executor or administrator can pursue damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. This differs from most states, which allow surviving family members the right to do so. Since victims of wrongful death are killed unexpectedly, they often have not gone through the estate planning process, which means there is no named executor or administrator. When that is the case, a court will appoint a person to represent the estate, who will then have the option of bringing a wrongful death claim. State law only allows two years of the date of death to file suit. Therefore, there must be swift action to seek justice and compensation.
Wrongful death claims in Connecticut are often based on negligence. Negligence is the failure to act in a reasonable manner, resulting in injuries to others. Some of the more common ways in which negligence results in a wrongful death, include:
These are only a few of the wide range of cases that wrongful death covers. It is important to remember though, that wrongful death lawsuits are civil, and separate from criminal cases.
No amount of money can make up for a preventable loss of life. However, a fair and full financial award can repay a family or decedent’s estate for its losses, providing greater financial stability for beneficiaries while also holding a wrongdoer accountable. A wrongful death victim’s estate may recover financial compensation for several types of losses:
Damages cannot be recovered for the pain and suffering of the surviving family members, but are instead, based on the deceased person’s losses. Any financial recovery will then be distributed according to the loved one’s will. When a will does not exist, the estate will resort to Connecticut’s intestacy laws to dictate the distribution of the funds.
A wrongful death is a devastating event, and families may feel that pursuing legal action will only increase their state of distress. A reputable wrongful death lawyer will understand and has the ability to handle the case on your behalf. A lawyer can handle many tasks on your behalf, including:
Since all wrongful death claims differ, an attorney will properly assist you in determining the value of the case by calculating the losses experienced by the wrongful death victim’s estate and by each survivor. Wrongful death lawsuits can be a lengthy process, but a qualified wrongful death attorney has the resources and knowledge necessary to expedite this type of claim and in a successful manner.
If someone you love has lost his or her life in an accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person, speak to one of our wrongful death attorneys. We can go over your legal options in a free case consultation, call (203) 265-2035 today.