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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

May 10 2024 | Wrongful Death

The death of a loved one in a preventable accident can leave you and your family with a lot of questions. You may wonder who is responsible for the fatal incident and whether you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim with a New Haven wrongful death attorney. In Connecticut, the law specifically bestows the right to file a wrongful death claim only on specific parties – namely, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate.

Who Is Permitted to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Connecticut?

A wrongful death claim is an opportunity for the loved ones, beneficiaries, or estate of a deceased individual (decedent) to seek justice for a preventable loss of life. The deceased accident victim is no longer able to pursue justice or financial compensation on his or her own. Instead, the task falls to someone else to bring the case to court.

In many states, the deceased individual’s family members are permitted to bring a wrongful death cause of action. In Connecticut, however, this can only be done by an executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-555 only allows for these individuals to bring legal action for injuries resulting in death.

Who Is the Executor of the Estate?

The executor, administrator, or personal representative of an estate is an individual who has been appointed to oversee the distribution of a deceased person’s assets according to their wishes or state law. If an individual who dies in an accident leaves behind a will or estate plan, this document will name an executor of the estate.

If there is no will or the named executor cannot fulfill the duty, a legal process known as probate will be performed for the courts to appoint someone the legal authority to administer the estate. The chosen executor is often a close relative of the decedent, such as a surviving spouse or adult child. However, it could also be other beneficiaries, public administrators, or creditors.

How Long Does the Executor Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate must file the paperwork necessary to initiate a wrongful death claim in Connecticut. This must be done within the state’s statute of limitations, or legal deadline for filing a claim. This deadline is generally two years from the date that the death occurs, under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-555.

Who Receives Compensation From a Successful Wrongful Death Claim?

While a personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the person who must file a wrongful death claim, this is not necessarily the individual who receives financial compensation if any is awarded. Any settlement or judgment award won will be distributed to the deceased person’s estate.

First, the money will be used to pay for any debts or liabilities against the estate, such as unpaid medical bills or funeral and burial costs. From there, the appointed person will administer the remaining amount to eligible beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s will, if there is one, or Connecticut’s rules of intestate succession.

A surviving spouse and surviving children are often recipients of wrongful death damages. They may be entitled to compensation for losses such as grief, loss of consortium, loss of the decedent’s love and affection, and lost parental guidance. If there is no surviving spouse or child, parents and other beneficiaries may be eligible for a financial recovery.

If you recently suffered the devastating loss of a loved one in any type of accident in Connecticut, find out if your family has grounds to file a wrongful death claim during a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney at Jacobs & Jacobs. Contact us today.

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