March 22, 2022 by Frank Bartlett
What Damages Can Be Sought In A Wrongful Death Claim?
Losing a loved one is always hard, but timing can make some losses harder than others. Sometimes we lose a loved one after a protracted illness or due to old age. In these cases, we may have had time to prepare ourselves, both emotionally and financially. When death comes more suddenly, such as in a car crash or other accident, the shock can be much worse, and the loss can leave family members in severe emotional and financial distress.
When a sudden loss is the result of an accident caused by another party’s negligence, family members may be able to recover compensation for their financial losses through filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Under Connecticut law, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim filed when you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another. Negligence occurs when a person:
- Has a duty. In most cases, that is the duty to use reasonable care, such as a driver’s duty to pay attention and follow traffic laws, or a property owner’s duty to keep their property reasonably safe
- Breaches that duty. The breach of a duty is an act or omission (failure to act that) that is contrary to the duty to use reasonable care.
- The breach causes a foreseeable injury. To show that a breach causes foreseeable injury, you must show that the injury would not have occurred but for the actions and omissions of the defendant, and that the actions or omissions were a substantial contributing factor in bringing about the injury.
- Damages are suffered. These damages include monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as intangible harms such as pain and suffering or the loss of the ability to enjoy hobbies and other activities.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if your loved one passed away due to the negligence of another and but for the death, they would have been able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit on their own. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the executor of the estate if an executor is named in a will or an administrator who is appointed by the court if the person does not have a will.
What damages are available?
There are a number of damages that may be pursued in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some damages are economic, meaning they have a definitive dollar value. These include loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, expenses for necessary medical care and reasonable burial and funeral costs. Other damages are non-economic in nature but still can have a dollar value placed on them by a jury. These include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of hobbies and activities, loss of the love and affections of a spouse, and the loss of the guidance and companionship of a loved one. Under Connecticut law, the damages awarded are measured by the loss suffered by the person who passed away and are considered an asset of that person’s estate.
Ultimately there is no exact formula for calculating damages recoverable through a wrongful death claim. It is up to the plaintiffs and their attorney to clearly articulate what these damages should be so that a jury can fully and fairly compensate the family for all the harms and losses they have sustained as a result of the wrongful death.
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