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East Hartford, CT personal injury attorney wrongful death

The term “wrongful death” is exactly what you would expect it to mean -- it refers to the untimely death of a person due to the negligence of another person. Dealing with death is difficult, but it can prove to be especially challenging if you know that your loved one’s death was due to the negligence and carelessness of another person. Fortunately, Connecticut has wrongful death statutes that allow you to collect compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering if he or she had not died in the accident. Wrongful death cases can be complicated, which is why it is recommended that you get help from a personal injury lawyer if you are seeking compensation for your loved one’s untimely death.

Available Damages to Claim in Wrongful Death Cases

The entire premise of a wrongful death lawsuit is to allow a person’s family members to file what is essentially a personal injury lawsuit in the place of the deceased. Before any damages are awarded, the court must determine whether or not there is actually a case for negligence. If the defendant is determined to be held liable for a person’s wrongful death, they may be ordered to pay certain damages. These types of claims can be brought against someone after a fatal car crash or slip-and-fall accident. In some cases, a driver may have been intoxicated or a property owner failed to maintain a safe and secure environment for guests.   


Hartford drunk driving accident lawyerIn all states, it is illegal to drive or operate a vehicle when you are intoxicated or your blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08. Unfortunately, that does not mean that everyone refrains from doing so. According to the Connecticut Judicial Branch, there were around 8,390 DUI cases that were recorded in the state in 2018. It is well known that driving while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and puts both you and everyone else on the road at risk. Alcohol-related car accidents can result in serious injuries to others and damage to their property. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you have options for obtaining compensation. These include:

Suing the Driver

The first thing you could do is to attempt to obtain compensation from the driver or the person who caused the accident. In Connecticut, you can demonstrate fault for an accident by showing that the driver was acting negligently when the collisions occurred. If a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, this is usually sufficient to prove negligence.

Suing the Establishment

Another option for receiving compensation is to pursue a claim under the Connecticut Dram Shop Act. This is a law that allows a victim of a drunk driver to hold the establishment from which the alcohol was sold responsible for the accident. To pursue a claim under the Dram Shop Act, you must be able to prove that the establishment sold alcohol to the driver when he or she was already intoxicated and that the intoxication of the driver was the proximate cause of the accident in which you were injured.


wrongful death, Hartford personal injury attorneyLosing a loved one in any type of an accident is certainly heartbreaking. When a family member is killed as the result of negligence by another person or entity, the situation is often even more tragic. While nothing can truly make up for the grief and pain experienced by the victim’s spouse, children, and other relatives, depending on the circumstances, they may be able to seek compensation for their loved one’s death from the responsible party or parties. As a recent ruling by a New Haven Superior Court shows, in some cases, a wrongful death award can be quite substantial.

A Preventable Accident?

The wrongful death action was filed in New Haven in 2014 following a fatal accident in East Haven two years earlier. In July of 2012, a 51-year-old man was riding his bicycle on Coe Avenue when he was struck from behind by a van driven by a 52-year-old Milford woman. The van was owned by a Guilford-based outreach organization for children and adults with special needs, and the driver was transporting two clients of the non-profit group.


police, Hartford personal injury attorneyWhen police officers are responding to a call, it is not uncommon for them to go speeding through city streets—sometimes pausing at red lights, sometimes not. For a responding officer, time is of the essence, of course, as the situation to which he or she has been called can quickly go out of control. When a private citizen is speeding along the highway or on city roads, he or she is typically responsible for any accidents, damages, or injuries that may arise as a result. But what about police officers? Can they be held accountable when an accident occurs in the line of duty?

Tragic Circumstances

In July of 2012, a 50-year-old Hartford man was driving along Albany Avenue, and was heading—with a green light—through the Woodland Street intersection. Seemingly out of nowhere, the man’s car was broadsided by a speeding police cruiser heading south on Woodland Street and running the red light. The man’s car was crushed on the passenger side and was pushed into a building on the side of the road. He was taken immediately to the hospital with severe injuries, where he died a week later. The officer driving the police cruiser was not hurt.


underinsured motorist claims, Connecticut car accident lawyerAlthough Connecticut law requires drivers to carry some minimum amount of car insurance, oftentimes those policies do not pay for the full cost of an individual's damages. Connecticut law only requires a motorist to carry $20,000 of coverage per injured person and $40,000 of per accident. In cases where the responsible driver’s insurance is not enough, drivers injured in a traffic accident have another option: they can file a claim against their own insurance carrier provider based on their underinsured motorist coverage, however, there are special doctrines surrounding those claims in Connecticut. The Connecticut Supreme Court recently clarified one of those doctrines in a case relating to a fatal traffic accident, Guarino v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance.

How Underinsured Motorist Claims Work In general, damages in traffic accident lawsuits are paid for by the insurance carrier of the person at fault. When those payments are not enough to cover the damages, injured victims can make an insurance claim with their own carrier, up to the limits of their own policy, but only after they have received the full amount payable under the at fault party's insurance. However under Connecticut law, in some cases, the injured party may not receive the full amount of their policy. Instead, they can only receive the difference between what the defendant paid and the amount necessary to cover their damages. For example, suppose a person with a $100,000 underinsured motorist policy gets into an accident with someone who only has $60,000 of insurance coverage. And suppose the accident results in the victim suffering medical costs and other damages of $160,000. If the defendant's insurance carrier pays the full $60,000 allowed by the coverage, then the victim can make a claim against their own insurance for the remaining medical expenses and damages incurred. However, the plaintiff will not be able to obtain the full $100,000 allowed by the policy because they already received $60,000 from the defendant's Insurance carrier . Consequently, the most that they can receive from their own insurance is $40,000 (which is their $100,000 limit minus the $60,000 already paid by the defendant).

The Guarino Case

The Guarino case deals with defining what actually counts as receiving payment from the defendant. Guarino had an underinsured motorist policy with a $100,000 limit, and had received two settlement payments from two defendants totaling $245,000. Guarino's estate argued that the $245,000 in payments should not offset the $100,000 under his policy because the payments were made as settlements, rather than after a court found the other drivers at fault. The Connecticut Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held that a payment made by a defendant in order to have a plaintiff release a legal claim should offset the plaintiff's underinsured motorist policy limits. The Court also upheld a previous doctrine that stated that the amount of reduction in the plaintiff's policy limit was the sum of all payments made by all defendants.

Underinsured motorist claims are just one of many options that people involved in traffic accidents have for pursuing full, fair compensation for their injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car accident, contact a skilled Hartford, CT traffic accident lawyer at Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Call 860-290-8690 to schedule a consultation.

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