Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Connecticut

Wrongful Death On Friday, April 29, 2022

A wrongful death claim can bring a sense of justice and closure to surviving family members who are left behind, as well as financial compensation to pay for related expenses, such as a funeral or burial. If you believe you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim in Connecticut, it is important to do so by the deadline. A law known as the statute of limitations places a strict time limit on the right to file this type of lawsuit. In Connecticut, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim is two years.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that places a deadline on a claim or cause of action. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to encourage timely claims filing. Without a deadline, an individual could feasibly wait as long as he or she wanted to file a lawsuit against a defendant. The justice system sees this as unfair to the defendant, who should not have the threat of a lawsuit hanging over his or her head indefinitely. Timely claims filing is also important for the integrity of the evidence. Waiting too long can lead to the loss of important evidence that the defendant may be able to use to defend himself or herself. 

Why Is it Important to Know Your Statute of Limitations?

Statutes of limitations differ from state to state, as well as according to case type. It is important to learn the statute of limitations in your state, as missing your deadline generally means losing the right to obtain compensation. The courts will typically refuse to hear a case that is brought after the statute of limitations has expired. Even if your case proceeds, the defense attorney will most likely use the missed statute of limitations as an argument to dismiss your case – which the courts will have to honor.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Claim in Connecticut?

Connecticut General Assembly Section 52-555 contains Connecticut’s wrongful death statute of limitations. This law says that any action brought for injuries resulting in death must be commenced within two years of the date of death. It also states that no action may be brought more than five years from the date of the act or omission complained of, regardless of the date of death. This is known as the statute of repose. This means that even if an exception to the two-year statute of limitations exists, no claim may be brought later than five years from the date of the wrongful act.

Exceptions to the Rule

Exceptions to the statute of limitations in Connecticut are rare, but they do exist. One exception is if there is a criminal case brought against the same defendant for the decedent’s death, such as a homicide or manslaughter case. In this scenario, if the defendant is found guilty (or not guilty by reason of insanity), a wrongful death cause of action can be brought at any time after the act or omission complained of, even if it is later than two years from the date of your loved one’s death.

There is also an exception known as the discovery rule that may apply to your wrongful death claim. This rule states that if the act of negligence or wrongdoing is not discovered immediately, the claimant can have two years from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit. Again, however, no wrongful death claim in Connecticut may be brought later than five years from the date that the cause of action accrues.

Why You Should Act Sooner Rather Than Later

Two years may seem like a long time, but this deadline can approach quickly. Do not wait to talk to a wrongful death lawyer or file a lawsuit, as this could put you at risk of being barred from financial recovery. Acting quickly is also in your best interest in terms of finding evidence to support your case. 

The longer you wait, the more likely it is that important evidence will be damaged or destroyed. For example, eyewitnesses who saw the fatal accident might not remember the details a year later. As soon as you suspect that someone else took your loved one’s life – either negligently or intentionally – contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit. Don’t wait – the clock is ticking.

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