When a close family member dies, grief and sadness consume you – and the last thing on your mind is filing a lawsuit. Yet, when the actions of another result in a loved one’s passing, immediate family members have the right to pursue legal action within a specific timeframe.
Wrongful death lawsuits present multiple complications, however, from proving negligence to determining compensation. To give your family member justice, have Trantolo & Trantolo’s attorneys guide you through the process.
Whether intentional or unintentional, wrongful death potentially results from multiple incidents, with the following being the most common:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents – With cars, motorcycles, or commercial vehicles involved, speeding, drunk or reckless driving, or equipment malfunctions result in thousands of fatal accidents per year.
- Medical Malpractice – Doctors and other medical professionals must uphold a basic standard of care, but from dangerous drugs and prescription mistakes to failure to diagnose to negligent care, multiple medical malpractice-related deaths occur daily.
- Workplace Accidents – Workplaces failing to follow proper safety standards put their employees in jeopardy. Incidents from falls to falling objects to motor vehicle and equipment accidents to fires have killed many workers simply doing their jobs.
- Product Liability – From buildings to manufacturing practices, companies have an obligation to employees’ and consumers’ safety. Yet, negligence and turning a blind eye have, over decades, resulted in workers exposed to asbestos and now experiencing the consequences; food poisoning, tampering, and accidental contamination; unsafe manufacturing practices, packaging, and design; and a lack of safety warnings.
Filing a Claim
Because wrongful death lawsuits pursue compensation rather than criminal action from the negligent party, only immediate family members can file a claim on behalf of the decedent in most states. In certain instances, these rights extend to cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents, and if the surviving family member is under 18 years of age, the court will appoint a guardian to act in the minor’s best interest.
In Connecticut, wrongful death law specifies that probate court approves a fiduciary, who is named in the deceased’s will, to represent the decedent’s estate. If no one is listed in a will, the surviving spouse has the right to file; if there is no spouse, any surviving children have the right. If the deceased does not have surviving children, the decedent’s parents can pursue the lawsuit. If the deceased has no spouse, children, or surviving parents, the court selects a fiduciary for the case.
In Connecticut, any claim must be filed within two years from the date of death, per the statute of limitations described in Section 52-555 of the General Statutes. In certain cases, filing sooner is required: if the claim is against the State of Connecticut or municipalities, or if it falls within certain statutory causes of action.
Depending upon who in your family files a wrongful death claim, the following may be awarded in a case:
- Medical, hospital, and nursing expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Economic loss, such as loss of anticipated earnings, loss of benefits, and loss of inheritance
- For spouses, loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Bystander emotional distress, for close family members who witnessed the incident
- General damages
The death of a child, parent, or spouse is a distressing, difficult time for all family members, and navigating a claim turns into a convoluted, trying process. For the help, direction, and knowledge your case requires, bring it to the attention of Trantolo & Trantolo’s experienced attorneys.