Before we say anything else, we are sorry that you are here, investigating whether a wrongful death lawsuit would be appropriate for your situation. This means that something tragic has happened in your life. Nothing we can do will fix it completely.
Who Can Sue on Behalf of the Decedent?
In Connecticut, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate.
If the deceased person died without making an estate plan (such as a will) that named an executor or administrator, or if the named executor or administrator cannot serve, the court may appoint an executor or administrator. This person is responsible for “wrapping up” the business of the estate as well as pursuing any wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit, which means that it must be filed by the executor or administrator directly. Liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed solely in terms of money damages owed by the defendant. In these ways, a wrongful death claim differs from a criminal case, which is brought by the state or federal prosecutor and in which culpability results in punishment like jail or prison time, probation, or other penalties. A wrongful death claim may be filed even if a criminal case is also filed based on the same facts.
What is My Case Worth?
The amount of damages to be paid in a wrongful death case are determined by the jury, or by the judge if there is no jury. Damages may be paid for the following categories of losses:
- reasonably necessary medical, hospital, and nursing expenses related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury
- funeral and burial expenses
- damages for lost earning capacity
- damages for conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death, and
- damages for “the loss of the capacity to enjoy life’s activities.”
Does the Other Person Go To Jail?
Not necessarily, and in the civil side – which is what we handle – we get money. If there was criminal activity that caused the death, the State of Connecticut may prosecute the person who caused the death. In that case, you will likely be consulted by the attorney for the state, but you do not get to control that case.
Even if there is a criminal case, you still may bring a separate civil case, and even if the criminal case is lost, you may still recover in the civil case.