The shock and overwhelming grief that engulfs those whose loved one has suffered catastrophic injuries or death in a traffic accident is traumatizing as it is. When they have to also deal with the costs of extensive medical procedures, rehabilitation or prolonged illness before death, it can be very challenging for the family to recover compensation from insurance companies for the mounting medical bills.
Insurance is supposed to cover most if not all of these costs, but it is often hard to get companies to pay, adding to the already tremendous pain the family is experiencing. Fortunately, there are laws in each state that guide the procedures for seeking compensation after the death of a loved one, which will determine what the family can receive.
In Connecticut, if the accident was preventable, and if there was negligence due to distracted, reckless or impaired driving on the part of another driver, the family may pursue a wrongful death claim. State laws allow residents of Hartford and surrounding areas to bring an action against the responsible party to recover compensation for medical, hospital or funeral services, loss of lifetime earning capacity, companionship as well as pain and suffering and other damages.
Proving a wrongful death claim
A wrongful death claim is a civil action that allows the plaintiff to pursue a financial settlement for a wrong committed. The bar for establishing guilt in a criminal case, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is much higher than in a civil case in which a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient to prove another’s responsibility for the death of another. The court determines the monetary award to the injured party based on a judgement of the degree of culpability of the negligent party.
A successful wrongful death suit must have the following elements:
- The death of a person
- Negligence or intent to harm as the cause
- The financial injury to the family that has resulted
- A personal representative for the estate of the decedent
In Connecticut, the family must file a claim within two years of their loved one’s death. Pursuing a claim will not bring them back, but it will hold the negligent party accountable. It can also provide a measure of comfort, and hopefully, closure to the family.