When your family has lost a loved one, time can feel irrelevant. Grief can make weeks, or even months, go by in an instant, even while moments of pain feel like they drag on forever. But if that death was caused by someone else’s negligence, time very much matters. The Connecticut wrongful death statute of limitations means you only have so much time to sue the person responsible for your family member’s death and get the compensation you and your family deserve.
Wrongful death is a kind of personal injury lawsuit where the person died because of their injuries. It allows that person’s family to file a lawsuit against the individual, company, or government agency that caused their death. Most wrongful death lawsuits are based on negligence and that the at-fault driver, property owner, or manufacturer failed to take reasonable care to keep your loved one safe and alive. However, depending on the nature of the accident, there may also be specific statutes that apply to your case.
The loss of any family member is tragic, but if the person who died was the family’s provider, you may suddenly be faced with needing other ways to pay your bills and keep your family safe. A wrongful death lawsuit can give you some financial compensation for your loss. It includes all damages suffered by your loved one while they were alive, as well as specific damages connected to their death itself. Wrongful death lawsuits include claims for:
Under Connecticut law, some car accident cases allow families to double or triple the damages caused by a reckless driver. There may also be other statutes that apply if your wrongful death case is based on a manufacturing or product defect.
There is a time limit on filing claims related to a person’s death. The Connecticut wrongful death statute of limitations says all cases must be filed within 2 years of the person’s death and within 5 years of the act causing that death. For example, if a person was severely injured in a car accident in October 2019 and died in January 2020, the family would need to file its complaint in a wrongful death lawsuit no later than January 2022. However, if that car accident happened in October 2016, resulting in the person’s catastrophic injuries and eventual death in January 2020, the family would only have until October 2021 to file the case.
There are also exceptions to this two-year rule. Lawsuits against hospitals, medical providers, and government agencies may have shorter statutes of limitations. Some also require you to provide advance notice to the potential defendants in a wrongful death action, which can further shorten your window of opportunity.
Two years may seem like enough time to mourn your loved one and then file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there is an important step that families must take first. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by the estate’s executor or administrator. This person is given authority to act on behalf of the estate by the Connecticut Probate Court. However, it can take some time to get the estate’s affairs in order and have an executor appointed. If your family waits until close to the two-year deadline, this delay could cause you to miss the wrongful death statute of limitations and lose the ability to collect damages from the one responsible for your loss.
Once your wrongful death claim is filed, it may still take months, or even years, for your case to resolve. Most personal injury cases involve insurance companies and most insurance companies do everything they can to limit how much they have to pay in benefits. Still, negotiating a wrongful death settlement with the at-fault defendant based on their insurance policy limits can sometimes get the case resolved faster than going to trial. However, if your family’s damages go beyond the other party’s liability insurance coverage, or if the insurance company refuses any offer of settlement, it may take more than a year to take the case to trial.
If your family has lost a loved one, it may be difficult to face your grief and talk to an attorney. But you must not procrastinate too long, or you will lose your right to compensation. At The Lebedevitch Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys want to be there for you and your family. We can work with you and your probate lawyer to project your family’s interests after a fatal accident. We will make sure all the technical requirements and statutes of limitations are met to get your family the compensation you need to move forward from your loss. Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.