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How Is Wrongful Death Determined in Connecticut?

May 30 2023 | Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is the worst thing that a family can go through in Connecticut. While it by no means makes up for a preventable death in the family, filing a wrongful death claim can provide some measure of justice to grieving survivors. A lawsuit can hold a wrongdoer accountable and provide financial compensation to help the family move forward. Learn what constitutes wrongful death under Connecticut law to help determine whether you have grounds for a claim.

Connecticut’s Definition of Wrongful Death

Connecticut Code Section 52-555 states that a civil action can be brought by an executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate for injuries resulting in death. This is a broad definition that does not give details about the circumstances that permit an executor to file this type of claim. However, for the most part, a wrongful death lawsuit works by requiring proof of someone else’s fault for the fatal injury or illness through negligence, default or intent to harm.

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable or ordinary care, resulting in harm to someone else. An example of negligence is a motor vehicle driver driving while distracted and causing a car accident. Default refers to an omission, or the failure to do something that a reasonable and prudent person would have done under similar circumstances. Intent to harm refers to a malicious act knowingly committed with the intention of injuring or killing someone.

You may have grounds for a wrongful death claim in Connecticut if the deceased individual, or decedent, would have had the legal right to file a personal injury claim for the same incident had death not ensued. If this is the case, the same defendant could face liability for the victim’s death. Note that there does not need to be proof of intent to harm an individual, such as a murder or homicide, to find someone liable for wrongful death. It is enough to show that the defendant was negligent or failed to exercise enough care.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

Every wrongful death case is unique. Multiple legal theories can be used to pursue financial compensation for the death of an individual. The most common, however, is negligence. With a claim based on negligence, your family may be entitled to wrongful death damages with proof of the following elements:

  1. A duty of care was owed by the defendant to the victim.
  2. The defendant breached or violated the duty of care.
  3. The defendant’s negligent act or omission caused the victim’s death.
  4. The family suffered damages as a result.

You may also be able to base a wrongful death claim on a theory such as a breach of warranty or strict liability, depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death. Tell your story to an attorney at Jacobs & Jacobs during a free case consultation to find out if your wrongful death claim has merit.

What Is the Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Claim?

When a wrongful death claim is filed, the filing party (plaintiff) has the burden of proof. This means the plaintiff is responsible for proving the elements of the claim. The burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the defendant must be found more likely than not responsible for the death. This is less than the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case in Connecticut. However, meeting this burden of proof still takes clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s negligence or fault.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Connecticut

Wrongful death claims can arise out of many different types of fatal accidents and incidents in Connecticut. Some of the most common are motor vehicle collisions, commercial truck accidents, catastrophic falls, construction accidents, fires and explosions, workplace accidents, dog attacks, and medical malpractice. If you recently lost a loved one under any unusual or preventable circumstances in Connecticut, contact Jacobs & Jacobs to discuss a potential wrongful death claim. Your family may be eligible for financial compensation.

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