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Five Things You Should Know About Wrongful Death in Connecticut


1.         Connecticut law provides for a cause of action for wrongful death, see  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-555.  Recovery in a wrongful death case is based on the loss to deceased (the Estate).  There are five elements of recovery:

a.         Conscious pain and suffering prior to death; 
b.         The death itself;
c.         Destruction of capacity to carry on and enjoy life's activities;
d.         Destruction of earning capacity (the net loss to the estate); and
e.         Ante-mortem expenses and funeral/final expenses.

2.         In Connecticut, a claim must be brought within two years of the death (the statute of limitations).  In addition, sometimes there are even shorter state or municipal notice periods that must be met, depending on the facts of the incident.

3.         An Estate may recover compensation only for conscious pain and suffering. See Waldron v. Raccio, 166 Conn. 608, 618; Chase v. Fitzgerald, 132 Conn. 461, 470.  This means there is no award of damages for pain and suffering if the deceased died immediately, or was rendered unconscious and then died, no matter how severe the injuries.

4.         Earning capacity refers to the ability to carry on the activity of earning money.  To determine compensation for the destruction of earning capacity, one looks at probable net earnings during the probable lifetime of the deceased, i.e., actual loss of earnings reduced by the liability for income taxes and reasonable personal living expenses (i.e., for housing, food, medical attention and care) during the probable duration of their lifetime.  Floyd v. Fruit Industries, Inc. 144 Conn. 659, 671, 676 (1957). 

5.         Only a surviving spouse can recover for loss of consortium, a claim that includes the intangible elements of the marital relationship, including love, affection, companionship, sexual relations, etc.  Damages may not be awarded for the loss, sentimental or financial, to the deceased’s family or children.   Lengel v. New Haven Gas Light Co., 142 Conn. 70, 78;  Floyd v. Fruit Industries, 144  Conn. 659, 676 (1957); Mendillo v. Board of Education, 246 Conn. 456, 482, 484-486 (1999).  





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