Fairfield Wrongful Death Lawyer

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If you’re on this page, odds are something very tragic happened.  If a loved one died and it was someone else’s fault, you are rightly upset, angry, confused, distraught, and unsure what to do.  You may be hesitant about contacting a Fairfield wrongful death lawyer.  These thoughts and feelings are very normal.

At the Brill Law Group, we are very sorry that you have suffered this terrible tragedy.  By seeking the guidance of a qualified personal injury lawyer in Fairfield, you will be taking the first proactive step to getting closure.

 

How Can a Fairfield Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?

Many people have heard the phrase “wrongful death” on the news. Perhaps you heard a story about a lawyer filing a wrongful death lawsuit after a celebrity has died suddenly. You might be wondering what exactly does wrongful death mean?

The law of wrongful death is complex. It’s something you should not try to handle yourself.  A Fairfield wrongful death attorney can help.  Let’s dive into it.

 

What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?

In the simplest terms, wrongful death is a type of lawsuit a person can file after a relative was killed due to the negligence of someone else. Wrongful death claims are basically personal injury claims except the negligent act leads to a person’s death, not just an injury.

For example, if a person is killed in a motor vehicle accident, a surviving relative can sue the negligent driver for damages resulting from the death. In contrast, if, the person is only injured in the accident, the claim is simply a personal injury claim. 

The Elements For Proving A Wrongful Death Claim

The elements you must prove in wrongful death claims are not very different from those in personal injury claims.

To establish a wrongful death claim, a person must prove:

  1. That a defendant acted negligently.
  2. That their negligence caused the decedent’s death
  3. The extent of the decedent and surviving family members’ damages

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

 

When someone dies, they obviously cannot bring a lawsuit. So who brings a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person? 

The Personal Representative Of The Estate Files The Wrongful Death Suit

When a person dies, they leave an “estate,” which is the term for their assets and legal rights. After a person dies, the surviving family members will need to have an estate opened up in probate court. That estate must be managed by either an executor or an administrator (also called “personal representative”). The only difference is that an executor is appointed in the decedent’s will while an administrator is appointed by the court.

A lawsuit for money damages is considered both an asset and a legal right. As a result, the deceased person’s personal representative has the right and power to bring the wrongful death lawsuit. Only the personal representative of the estate can file a suit under Connecticut law. 

What Is A Personal Representative’s Role In A Wrongful Death Case?

Being the personal representative of the estate does not entitle that person to all of the money received in a lawsuit. They are simply the correct legal entity that can be a plaintiff in a lawsuit. 

Family members can feel slighted by this arrangement if they feel “closer” to the decedent than the estate’s representative was. But remember, a person simply having the power to bring the wrongful death claim does not mean that person is the only person who can recover damages.

Who Can Recover Money In A Wrongful Death Claim?

 

When a wrongful death claim results in financial compensation, several people may be entitled to recover money.

The Beneficiaries Named In The Decedent’s Will

If a person is named in the decedent’s will, they are a “beneficiary.” Beneficiaries have an interest in the assets of the estate. Therefore, if there is a will, the money in wrongful death cases gets distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes in their will.

Relatives, According To The Laws Of Intestate Succession

If the deceased person dies without a will, that is called dying “intestate.” The money from an intestate person’s wrongful death claim goes to the relatives in line according to the Connecticut law of intestacy.

The Surviving Spouse

The surviving spouse or civil partner can recover for loss of consortium, which means the loss of society, companionship, services, moral support, and sexual relations suffered due to the death of the spouse.

Surviving Minor Children

Surviving minor children can recover for the loss of a parent’s love, affection, care, and guidance. This is also considered a loss of consortium claim.

Compensation In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The thing that makes wrongful death claims unique is the damages available. Because the harm caused by the negligent act is death, the damages are obviously tremendous.

In Connecticut, the damages in wrongful death lawsuits are governed by Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 52-555. 

Economic Damages

Reasonable and Necessary Medical and Funeral Expenses

 

The first thing that a Fairfield wrongful death lawyer will seek compensation for is the cost of the decedent’s medical expenses resulting from the negligent party’s negligent acts and the cost of the funeral and burial expenses.

If a truck driver negligently struck a driver, and the driver spent 10 days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries and dying, the driver’s insurance company would need to pay for those 10 days of medical expenses and the funeral expenses.

Destruction of Earning Capacity

If the deceased person was of working age and had a future earning capacity, a wrongful death attorney will claim those damages as well. The law firm would hire an expert economist to forecast what the decedent’s probable future earnings would have been had they not been killed.

Noneconomic (Human) Damages

Destruction of Capacity to Enjoy Life’s Activities

The decedent’s estate may also seek compensation for the decedent’s loss of enjoyment of life. For example, missing out on things like weddings, anniversaries, and the ordinary pleasures of life. 

Because of the subjective nature of these damages, wrongful death attorneys need to select the right witnesses to tell a compelling story about the decedent’s life.

Compensation for the Death Itself

 

The rule is that insofar as money can do it, the estate may be awarded fair, just, and reasonable compensation for the loss of life. As in the above category, there is no precise mathematical formula for a jury to apply.

Pain and Suffering

 

If the decedent experienced conscious pain and suffering before their death, the estate can recover damages for that pain and suffering. For instance, if an injured motorcyclist was lying on the side of the road conscious but dying in severe agony, that severe pain is compensable.

The “instantaneous death” doctrine

In contrast, if a person dies while asleep under anesthesia due to medical malpractice, they do not suffer conscious pain and suffering. When a person dies instantly without any pain or agony, a Fairfield wrongful death lawyer cannot recover for the decedent’s pain and suffering. Connecticut law calls this the “instantaneous death” doctrine.

Loss of Consortium

The categories of damages listed above all relate to the decedent’s life (their pain and suffering, lost earnings, and death). Loss of consortium damages are separate claims brought by a surviving spouse or surviving children for their own suffering.

 

In a wrongful death case, the surviving spouse or children of a deceased loved one might have claims for loss of companionship, affection, and services.  

For example, there might be testimony from a daughter that every time she thinks of texting her deceased mother or thinks about her special apple pie recipe, she grieves terribly.  The jury would hear this evidence and put a value on it.

Common Wrongful Death Cases

Any death caused by someone’s negligence can form the basis for a wrongful death action. However, there are some negligent acts that are more likely to lead to death than others. These include 

  • Fires
  • Poisoning
  • Truck Accidents
  • Serious Car Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Drownings
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Nursing Home Neglect

Serious Motor Vehicle Accidents

 

Due to the dangerous nature of motor vehicles, unsafe drivers, and people not wearing seatbelts, many claims result from serious motor vehicle accidents.

Dangerous Premises / Falls / Workplace Accidents

 

Unsafe balconies, patios, and elevators can cause a person to fall to their death. The same is true with unsecured cargo that falls from a height.

Drownings

 

A common tragic loss occurs when a swimming area is negligently left unsupervised and a swimmer drowns.

Medical Malpractice

 

Personal injury attorneys frequently bring claims due to medical errors. Misdiagnosed cancer and heart attacks, surgical errors, and medication errors are just some examples of negligence that lead to wrongful deaths.

How Long Does A Wrongful Death Case Take?

 

Even the most experienced wrongful death attorney cannot move the wheels of justice faster than the court system allows. Some claims, such as motor vehicle accidents with very obvious negligence, can be settled before filing a lawsuit.

Other claims, especially medical malpractice claims, usually require a wrongful death attorney to file a lawsuit. Once a case enters the court system, it can take 1-4 years to resolve.

Do You Need To Hire A Fairfield Wrongful Death Lawyer?

 

Yes. A wrongful death claim is far too complicated for a layperson to handle by themselves. wrongful death lawyers will help you 1) navigate probate court to appoint an executor/administrator, 2) hire the right experts to prove negligence and damages; and 3) file and litigate a claim on your behalf.

How Much Does A Fairfield Wrongful Death Law Firm Charge?

Typically, 33.33% of your gross settlement. There is a statute imposing a sliding scale structure to reduce the fee of a Fairfield wrongful death attorney after the first $300,000. For example, the settlement dollars between $300,000 – $600,000 would only be subject to a 25% attorney’s fee cap.

However, due to the complexity of wrongful death cases, a prospective law firm may ask you to waive that sliding scale fee cap and agree to a 33.33% fee across the board. You have the right to negotiate a fee waiver or look for other wrongful death attorneys.

How Much Is A Fairfield Wrongful Death Case Worth?

 

This is a difficult question to answer because of the various damages involved in these cases. The death of an 80-year-old retiree has a lower value than that of a 40-year-old breadwinner at the peak of his or her career. Also, the extent of the medical bills changes the value of the claim.

Another factor involved in valuing these claims is whether there is a loss of consortium claim. When a spouse or children have additional claims, the value of the case increases. Ultimately, what constitutes fair compensation is up to a jury to decide at trial.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Wrongful Death Claims?

In Connecticut, you have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, according to Connecticut General Statutes § 52-555. This period starts on the day your loved one passes away, not necessarily the date of the accident. If the person died weeks or months after the incident, you still have two years from their death to file the lawsuit.

There are exceptions to this rule. If the act of negligence wasn’t immediately known or didn’t cause immediate death, Connecticut law allows up to five years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a claim. Additionally, some cases may require notice within as little as 90 days to preserve your right to sue due to specific technical notice requirements.

Failing to meet these deadlines can result in your case being dismissed, leaving you without the compensation you need. To ensure your claim is filed on time and to navigate these complexities, it’s crucial to consult with a skilled Fairfield wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.

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Hear From Our Clients

Having Dan Brill as an attorney has been a great experience. He was extremely accommodating and readily available. He got the best results for my personal injury case in a speedy manner. Highly recommended!

Zammy Lee

I was rear ended by a drunk driver in Stamford and my car was badly damaged. Dan took over my car accident case and did a great job. He answered ny questions and made me feel very comfortable during the process. Highly recommend!

Ronald Chamale

Attorney Brill is an exceptional lawyer! He is professional, detailed and swift! I cannot praise him enough for handling an incident for me that came out very favorable!
A great lawyer! Its hard to find lawyers like Mr. Brill!

Martha Wallace

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